Former Home of Miles Davis
Miles Davis is regarded as one of the greatest American jazz musicians. For twenty-five years, Davis lived in a townhouse on West 77th Street. It was both his home and a creative space, and some of his most important albums were composed in the home. The home is a New York City Landmark, and in 2014, the block on which the house is located was renamed Miles Davis Way.
Backstory and Context
Davis turned the building's basement into a gym and music room, where he could practice without disturbing the rest of the building. He lived in the home with his wife, Frances, and their four children. They rented out the top two floors.
The home--particularly the basement--was also a creative space for Davis. At least two of his most significant albums were composed in the 77th Street home--Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew. Neighbors grew accustomed to seeing Davis and other music legends, such as Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie, coming and going from the building. But in spite of his wealth and fame, Davis was a common presence among his neighbors, and often sat on the stoop with friends to pass the time.
In 1972, Davis crashed his Lamborghini, breaking both of his ankles. His recovery took months and he suffered from chronic pain for the rest of his life. The ongoing effects of his injuries were a contributing factor in his decision to retire in 1976. The period after his retirement was a self-destructive period in Davis's life. He lived in virtual seclusion in the home, abused drugs and alcohol, and visiting friends were shocked to find him living in squalor.
Following a comeback in the early 1980s, Davis moved to Los Angeles and the townhouse was divided into apartments. Because of its importance to the history of jazz, the building was designated a New York City Landmark. In 2014, after a campaign by residents of the neighborhood, the block on which the building is located was renamed Miles Davis Way
About. milesdavis.com. . Accessed April 16, 2019. https://www.milesdavis.com/biography.
Albrecht, Leslie. Miles Davis Could Get Upper West Side Street Corner Named for Him. dnainfo.com. October 13, 2010. Accessed April 16, 2019. https://www.dnainfo.com/20101013/upper-west-side/miles-davis-could-get-upper-west-side-street-corner-named-for-him/.