Miles Davis

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Miles Davis (1926-05-261991-09-28) was an American jazz musician.

  • "For me, music and life are all about style."
  • "I've changed music four or five times. What have you done of any importance other than be white?"
    • Davis attended a reception in honor of Ray Charles at Ronald Reagan's White House in 1987. This was his reply to a Washington society lady seated next to him who had asked him what he had done to be invited.
  • The music has gotten thick. Guys give me tunes and they're full of chords. I can't play them...I think a movement in jazz is beginning away from the conventional string of chords, and a return to emphasis on melodic rather than harmonic variation. There will be fewer chords but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them.
    • About the new modal style. Interviewed by The Jazz Review, 1958.
  • "If somebody told me I only had an hour to live, I'd spend it choking a white man. I'd do it nice and slow."
    • During an interview, after growing aggravated about questions on the subject of race.
  • "A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do. I'm still doing it."
    • On being called a legend.
  • "Jazz is like blues with a shot of heroin"
  • "Who's that motherfucker? He can't play shit!"
  • "You a motherfucker."
    • a compliment to Chick Corea, who thought he was about to be fired.
  • "He plays like somebody is standing on his foot."
  • "He could very well be the Duke Ellington of Rock 'n' Roll."
  • "You can't play anything on a horn that Louis hasn't played."
  • "I’ll play it and tell you what it is later."
    • During a recording session for Prestige, on the album "Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet" (1956).
  • "Listen baby, when I say later, I mean it! Later!"
    • After being approached by a relentless interviewer.
  • "There are no wrong notes."
  • "My ego only needs a good rhythm section." On being asked what he looked for in musicians.
  • "When you are creating your own shit, man, even the sky ain't the limit."
  • "Try taking the fucking horn out of your mouth."
    • Davis was questioning the increasing length of John Coltrane solos, and Trane answered "I don't know how to stop."
  • "It's that goddamned motherfucking 'Machine Gun.'"
    • Davis' response when questioned on what he heard in the music of Jimi Hendrix.[1]
  • "Don't play what's there, play what's not there."


  1. Charles R. Cross, Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix, 2005: ISBN 1-4013-0028-6

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