Miles Davis Changed The Face Of Jazz Despite Suffering From "Sickle Cell" Disease
For over 40 years, Miles Davis captivated the world with his exceptional brew of jazz music. This remarkable bandleader and composer bagged nine Grammy Awards in his lifetime and is reputed as one of the most influential contributors to the genre of music.
But his life was not without challenges. Miles was born in May of 1926 with sickle cell disease, a degenerative condition that marked a life of constant health issues and complications for the musical genius.
Over the course of his life and career, Miles battled the disease. His condition devolved to a point in the 1960s when he took an involuntary leave from music. His hiatus lasted for a few years and he finally made his way back on the music scene. However, his return was short lived.
Living through the pain.
Miles made his mark with his debut album in 1951 titled The New Sounds . In 1972, Miles was involved in a ghastly motor accident that caused even more damage to his fragile frame. Already he had a history of brittle bones and this accident only worsened his condition. Unable to heal fast enough, Miles was again forced to take time off performance.
His eventual devolution started around this period as his hip bones had a hard time healing. Still, Miles was determined to work through the pain. He gradually worked his way back to making music and appearances, although at a much slower pace than before.
The eternal optimist
In spite of the medical challenges, this dogged music maestro beat the odds and went on to live with the disease until his demise in 1991. He was an untiring optimist, unwilling to live in the glory of the past. This is evident in his reflection on his music and the need to appreciate life in the moment. He says:
I don’t want you to like me because of Kind of Blue. Like me for what we’re doing now.
1985 saw him release You’re Under Arrest, with covers of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”. Miles Davis also had his last filmed performance six years later in 1991, alongside famed Producer, Quincy Jones.
Barely 2 months after, he passed away. His music continues to outlive him and his legacy on and off records is an inspiration, not just to those suffering from sickle cell disease, but for the families of people managing sufferers.