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Legendary Composer Miles Davis Honored with Stamp


Jazz giant Miles Davis, along with immortal French chanteuse Edith Piaf, was honored last week with a commemorative stamp by the U.S. Postal Service. Davis's image is the well-known 1970 black-and-white photograph by David Gahr which was featured on Davis's album in tribute to Jack Johnson.

Davis, who died 20 years ago, had a 50-year career during which he proved to be a restless innovator. He began as a bebop trumpeter after quitting Julliard and evolved through stages that took him into cool jazz, hard bop and modal jazz.

Changing directions radically, Davis produced and released two albums in 1969, In A Silent Way and the monumental Bitch's Brew, marking the birth of jazz fusion, which incorporated elements of rock music and took jazz back toward the mainstream audience. Bitch's Brew sold over one million copies.

Davis's 1959 album Kind of Blue has gone platinum four times, making it the biggest selling jazz disc of all time.

Davis was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 shortly before his death. The winner of dozens of Grammys, Davis was also knighted as a member of the French Legion of Honor by President Jacques Chirac in 1989. He was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Both of the stamps will also be issued in France.

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William Michael Smith