Montréal-NJ-NYC-London-Boston-WORLD

Miles at Birdland ’59

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Not much from me recently, but when I got the tip on this one I thought that all of y’all would enjoy this. What we have here is an unreleased recording of Miles Davis live from Birdland (NYC) on Armed Forces Day. Aside from the fact that it grooves like nothing else, this recording is notable because after the show that night Miles Davis was beaten, arrested, and had his cabaret license for New York City revoked.

Get it now, then read from his autobiography Miles below…

I had just finished doing an Armed Forces Day broadcast, you know, Voice of America and all that bullshit. I had just walked this pretty white girl named Judy out to get a cab. She got in the cab, and I’m standing there in front of Birdland wringing wet because it’s a hot, steaming, muggy night in August.

This white policeman comes up to me and tells me to move on. At the time I was doing a lot of boxing and so I thought to myself, I ought to hit this motherf***er because I knew what he was doing. But instead I said, “Move on, for what? I’m working downstairs. That’s my name up there, Miles Davis,” and I pointed to my name on the marquee all up in lights.

He said, “I don’t care where you work, I said move on! If you don’t move on I’m going to arrest you.”

I just looked at his face real straight and hard, and I didn’t move. Then he said, “You’re under arrest!” He reached for his handcuffs, but he was stepping back. Now, boxers had told me that if a guy’s going to hit you, if you walktoward him you can see what’s happening. I saw by the way he was handling himself that the policeman was an ex-fighter. So I kind of leaned in closer because I wasn’t going to give him no distance so he could hit me on the head.

He stumbled, and all his stuff fell on the sidewalk, and I thought to myself, Oh, shit, they’re going to think that I f***ed with him or something. I’m waiting for him to put the handcuffs on, because all this stuff is on the ground and shit. Then I move closer so he won’t be able to f*** me up.

A crowd had gathered all of a sudden from out of nowhere, and this white detective runs in and BAM! hits me on the head. I never saw him coming. Blood was running down the khaki suit I had on. Then I remember Dorothy Kilgallen coming outside with this horrible look on her face… and saying, “Miles, what happened?” I couldn’t say nothing. Illinois Jacquet was there too.

It was almost a race riot, so the police got scared and hurried up and got my ass out of there and took me to the 54th Precinct where they took pictures of me bleeding and shit. So, I’m sitting there, madder than a motherf***er, right? And they’re saying to me in the station, “So you’re the wiseguy, huh?” Then they’d bump up against me, you know, try to get me mad so they could probably knock me upside my head again. I’m just sitting there, taking it all in, watching every move they make…

Later I sued the police department for US$500,000. Harold (Lovett) wasn’t doing negligence suits, so he got another lawyer, who forgot to file the claim before the statute of limitations ran out. We lost the damage suit, and I was madder than a motherf***er, but there wasn’t nothing I could do about it. The police revoked my cabaret license, and that prevented me from playing New York clubs for a while.

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