A life in pictures: Miles Davis

Reader's Digest Editors

Aged 8, before he discovered the trumpet. Image via Pinterest

Miles Dewey Davis III was born in Alton, a city on the Mississippi River in Illinois on May 26, 1926. The Davis were a comfortable family. Miles's father, Miles Davis II was a dental surgeon with three college degrees, while his mother, Cleota Mae was a music teacher.

Miles had a quaint childhood, catching fish and riding horses with his two siblings—older sister Dorothy and younger brother Vernon. He was known as a prankster in school.

He recalls in his biography how “By the age of 12, music had become the most important thing in my life.” His mother, a violinist herself, dearly wanted her son to play the violin. But brass was Miles’s calling, and he remembers arguments between their parents as his dad overruled her to fight his son’s corner.

He received his first trumpet in 1935 and began weekly music lessons with his father’s drinking buddy and his soon to be life-long mentor, Elwood Buchanon.

Talking about his school days, Miles recalled how, “Mr Buchanan was the biggest influence on my life… He was definitely the person who took me all the way into music at that time. I knew I wanted to be a musician. That was all I wanted to be.”

2. The surgeon's son
The surgeon's son