Betty Davis, Miles Davis’ ex-wife, is a funk-rock cult legend. Her musical performance career began in the early 1970’s. At a time when depictions of open, frank sexuality by black women were unheard of, Betty Davis professed the proclivities of her lover in this to-the-point song from her album They Say I’m Different. More than just a recitation of bedroom secrets, this piece of musical history celebrates a sexual relationship wherein the male partner is not dominant but, instead, gets his jollies being beat with her “turquoise chain.” Davis up-ends the male-dominant scheme with a story that doesn’t cave to the political calls to blend quietly into the middle-class, but asserts her presence as a black woman in control of herself and her partner.
Notably, there is no video of Betty’s performances. When her albums were re-released in the 2000’s, In the Attic Records searched for video of her 1970’s concert performances – none could be found. This is not surprising, considering how little industry support Betty received during her short career. She was considered “too black” for the white music industry and “too rock” for the black music industry.
Also check out her song, “Don’t Call Her No Tramp,” an interesting proto-critique of “slut bashing.”