May 26, 1926: Happy Birthday to Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, Miles Davis

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On this day, May 26, 1926, a prominent African-American musician, songwriter, jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader, Miles Dewey Davis, was born in Alton, Illinois. He was the son of a prosperous music teacher, Cleota Mae, and a prominent dental surgeon, Mr. Miles Davis Dewey Sr.

By being instrumental in the development of Jazz music, Miles Dewey is respected as one of the black American top musicians of his time. He entered the historical records as one of the most acclaimed and influential characters in the history of jazz music in the U.S. during the 20th century. During his five-decade career in practicing and performing jazz, Miles adopted diverse musical directions, which kept him at the top of several major stylistic developments in the American jazz.

Born in Illinois, Miles was brought up in a middle-class black household, where he was introduced to the trumpet by his father, at a mere age of 13 years. Miles could learn from practice so swiftly, and he quickly developed the talent of playing the trumpet under private mentorship by Buchanan Elwood, his father’s friend, who would take him through his practical training perfectly since he was a director at a music school.

Miles Davis played professionally while undergoing his high school studies, and when he was 17 year of age, he received an invitation from Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to join them onstage. These famous musicians realized the potential in Miles Davis when they needed a professional trumpeter to serve in place of their sick bandmate who played that role.

Soon after, Davis traveled to New York at the age of 18 years, in 1944, to pursue music as his career. Consequently, he enrolled at the Julliard School of Music, which was by then known as the “Institute of Musical Arts.” Davis then began to play, both as a trumpeter and as a musician, at the Harlem nightclubs. He met other several professional musicians whom he played with, forming the basis for a fast, bebop, which is an improvisational jazz instrumental style defining the modern era jazz.

A year later, in 1945, Davis dropped out of Julliard School, with permission from his father, thereby becoming a full-time jazz musician. He became a member of the Charlie Quinter Parker and made his first recording in 1946 while serving as the bandleader. Miles continued his recordings, and in 1949, he formed a nine-piece band, which had uncommon additions such as the Trombone, Tuba, and French horn. He further made a series of recordings, which would later be released as a single album “Birth of the Cool.” These were considered as significant contributions to the modern-day jazz.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Davis recorded several albums with his Davis Sextet. His famous albums of the late 1950s were the Kind of Blue and Porgy and Bess, in 1959. The “Kind of Blue” was historically credited as the most-selling jazz album of all the times, selling over 2 million copies.

Miles Davis success in recordings continued all through the 1970s and 1980s before he got drawn into drug abuse by the late 80s towards 1990, thereby becoming addicted to cocaine and alcohol. At the age of 65, he succumbed to respiratory failure and pneumonia on 28th September, 1991, in Santa Monica, California.  His death was blamed on his drug abuse and addiction traits.

Read more of the story via



  • Davis, Miles; Sultanof, Jeff (2002).Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool: Transcribed Score. Hal Leonard.
  • Cole, George (2005).The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis (1980–1991). Equinox Publishing Ltd.
  • Carr, Ian (1998).Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography. Thunder’s Mouth Press.
  • Chambers, Jack (1998).Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis. Da Capo Press.
  • Orr, Tamra (2012) [2001].American Jazz: Miles Davis. Mitchell Lane Publishers, Inc.

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