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Queen of Funk, Betty Davis, Dead at 77

Betty Davis, a North Carolina native who transitioned from modeling to music during her storied career and earned the moniker Queen of Funk, died at 77 Wednesday.

The news of Davis' death was confirmed to Rolling Stone by her friend Danielle Maggio, an ethnomusicologist whose work focused on Betty’s music and life.

Amie Downs, communications director for Allegheny County where Davis lived, told the magazine that Davis’ cause of death was natural.

It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of Betty Davis, a multitalented music influencer and pioneer rock star, singer, songwriter, and fashion icon,” Connie Portis, another longtime friend of Davis, said in a statement. “Most of all, Betty was a friend, aunt, niece, and beloved member of her community of Homestead, Pennsylvania, and of the worldwide community of friends and fans. At a time to be announced, we will pay tribute to her beautiful, bold, and brash persona. Today we cherish her memory as the sweet, thoughtful, and reflective person she was…. There is no other.

Davis, who spent one-year married to fellow music legend Miles Davis in the 1960s, recorded the majority of her music between 1964 and 1975. Her signature raspy purr, combined with often erotic lyrics and outrageous costumes, helped her rack up a slew of hits including “Get Ready for Betty,” “It’s My Life,” and “If I’m in Luck I Might Get Picked Up” amongst others. Davis recorded three solo albums in all and wrote much of her own music. 

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