Loved by artists from Prince to Butthole Surfers, Davis created a fearlessly sexual, futurist sound that sowed the seed of rebellion

Betty Davis, raw funk pioneer, dies at 77

In 1974, a year before the release of Nasty Gal, the third studio album by funk and fashion trailblazer Betty Davis, the New York Times predicted that her radical, raunchy music would eventually be appreciated, if only people would let themselves catch up with her: “Miss Davis is trying to tell us something real and basic about our irrational needs, and western civilisation puts its highest premiums on conformity and rationality and rarely recognises the Bessies or the Bettys until they’re gone.”

Rather than conform, Davis, who has died aged 77, let the landmark discography she recorded in the 1970s speak for her, along with the sultry, futurist stage persona she created in a powerfully tall afro, cosmic leotards, sequinned hot pants and silver thigh-high boots. “I made three albums of hard funk,” Davis said in the 2017 documentary They Say I’m Different. “I put everything there.” And then, for decades, she vanished from the public eye.

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