Miles Davis bio on BBC2

Last night, 9.00pm, presumably available on iPlayer if you missed it. A pretty good 2-hour summary of his life with lots of musical extracts and interviews. Not too hagiographic, managing to deal openly with the less pleasant sides of his character, but with a sense that his foul temper, violence and drug-taking might have been at least partly a result of the deeply unpleasant racial situation in the US for much of his life.

It reminded me just what a towering musical genius he was, and I’ve listened to some of my CDs of his for the first time in a while.



It was a good intro but it wholly glossed over the violence, especially that done to women.


Musically he was an absolute giant of the twentieth century.
It always amuses me when people list pop groups as the biggest influence whereas Miles led the way. Always out in front and always dissatisfied with his own efforts.
Carlos Santana explained it well in the film. Harsh but true.
As to the other aspects of his character I’m sure nobody would defend him but many exceptionally gifted people often have major character defects which seem to be part of the territory.


The documentary, whilst not dwelling on his misogyny, did feature an interview with an ex-girlfriend who stated plainly that he beat her up. A hugely complicated individual (who isn’t?) who was an artistic genius but carried major flaws in his personality.

I guess talent and being a total ars*hole aren’t mutually exclusive. Introduce alcohol and cocaine into the mix and there you go.


Jackson Browne

1 Like

I watched it on iPlayer. Rather typical actually. Whenever I watch or read something on a so called icon nAo matter my respect for their musical prowess I end up respecting them less as a person.

1 Like

I think a major contributory factor regarding the behaviour of artists is their degree of exposure to the public gaze.
If any of us have a bad day in the office only a few people know about it.
If your latest album bombs everybody is aware, which must ratchet up the emotional pressure, hence the awful outbursts of behaviour we often see from successful people.

As John Lydon said in his TV advert for butter or something similar, ‘It’s their career choice’.
If they can’t handle it, get another job. Simples.

1 Like

There aren’t many career choices that include a Ferrari!
Not forgetting that many people in the arts are driven souls.

I hope you’re not implying that being ‘driven’ is a licence to do whatever you want.
Whatever career choice you make is no excuse for this type of ‘reported’ behaviour. None whatsoever!

Far from it, just providing a possible reason.

So you’re arguing that they beat their partners because of career choice pressure rather than they were just an abuser! An interesting argument, especially as many demonstrably had history long before any career choice pressure.

It’s generally not accepted that people in receipt of social security benefits have poverty as an explanation of their behaviour. I’ll be fascinated to learn of the evidence supporting the premise that the rich do.

I’m not arguing just offering an opinion as to why people may behave in that way. As I’ve said I don’t condone the behaviour I just like his music.

1 Like

There are many, far more than successful artists, that commit domestic violence. It is not unique to successful people.

1 Like

No. Ryan Adams is not equal to Genius.

1 Like

Actually - apologies. I thought you meant Bryan Adams.
I know almost nothing about Bryan Adams - and literally nothing at all about Ryan Adams.
Cue hazy memory of Robin Hood video.
My knowledge of pop music and pop culture is a big fat void.

And, thinking about it, yes, the concept of a genius is profoundly subjective, especially in the arts.

Except in the case of Miles Davis - now he is objectively a genius.

When you look up the word ‘Genius’ in the dictionary it has a picture of Miles - and obviously one of Einstein too for good measure.

1 Like

Really poor documentary.

They spent much of the time talking about his cars and clothes and his record companies and his love life.

The analysis of his musical development was really superficial and shoddy.

Overblown praise of the earlier classics, and they gave space to some really stupid comments about the amazing burst of creativity he was at the centre of from 69 to 75, including Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, Dark Magus, Agartha, Pangaea, On the Corner, Get Up With it…

You forgot Big Fun. Plus not one word about the real genius behind the scenes Teo Macero.

1 Like

Yes, Big Fun:

Also, “Live Evil” from around that time too…

Here is a documentary on Teo:

1 Like