Monday 10 February 2020

Miles, "The Prince of Darkness"

The ‘Prince of Darkness’ standing in the shadows. Miles captured at the Salle Pleyel Concert Hall, 8th Arrondissement, Paris on Monday, November 3rd 1969.

Just as Louis Armstrong was known as ‘Satchmo’ and John Gillespie was ‘Dizzy’, ‘Prince of Darkness’ was the acknowledged nickname of Miles Davis (1926-1990).

How did Miles come to be known as such?

It came from his penchant for wearing dark suits; the sombre, at times surly ambiance on stage which occasionally involved Miles playing with his back to concert audiences, as well as that dark, raspy style of speaking that became his trademark.

The Wayne Shorter-composed “Prince of Darkness” in the Miles Davis Quintet’s 1967 album Sorcerer alludes to it. Miles was a complex man who had a mean-hearted side, and yes, he was a genius and innovator who in his inimitable words changed jazz “five or six times”.

Few to none would argue with argue with him over that claim.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2020)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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