Miles Dewey Davis III was born in Alton, IL in 1926. Shortly after his birth his family moved to East St. Louis. It was here that Miles was given his first trumpet and joined the marching band at Lincoln High School.
Desperate to move to New York City Davis enrolled at Juilliard, but spent more time hanging out in 52nd Street nightclubs, where a new sound called “be-bop” was incubating. After sitting in with several bands Davis eventually replaced Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s band.
Unlike most performers, Davis never played to an audience, sometimes even turning his back on the crowd. He shifted direction musically more than any other jazz musician of his time and appealed to several different generations of music lovers. He often avoided using the word jazz to describe his music, but from his involvement in the birth of bop to the synthesized Latin rhythms and Afro soul, Davis was undeniably a jazzman.
Although his off stage moods and habits often overshadowed his musical genius, Miles Davis broadened the appeal of modern jazz more than any other performer until his passing in 1991 at the age of 65.