Gregory Davis: Son of Miles
“ I remember times we were on the road when I knew he was spitting up blood, coughing up phlegm and this and that. He never missed a note. It was amazing. ”
Just when we thought it might have been done sufficiently. John Szwed's excellent So What: The Life of Miles Davis (Simon & Schuster, 2002) stands alongside Ian Carr's Miles: The Definitive Biography (Harper & Collins, 1998) and, of course, Miles' own book with Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography (Simon & Schuster, 1989) as the best books on the music legend. Paul Tingen superbly captured the trumpeter's significance during his electric years with Miles Beyond, The Electric Explorations of Miles Davis 1967-91 (Billboard Books, 2001). Even more recently, a pair of books came along, not nearly as sharp as Tingen's, but each adding interesting perspective on the later years and controversial recordingsPhilip Freeman's Running the Voodoo Down: The Electric Music of Miles Davis (Backbeat, 2005) and George Cole's The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis 1980-1991 (University of Michigan Press, 2005).
We thought it was done... for a while. And now this. A book about The Man, written by none other than his eldest son, Gregory Davis someone heretofore almost entirely unheard from on the subject. In fact, a man who some felt was unworthy himself, due to a checkered past of his own. Gregory Davis said he ruminated on Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis (Backbeat Books, 2006) for sixteen years before bringing it to fruition. It's his right. It's his father. The merits of the book won't be debated here, nor will the family squabbles that left he and his brother Miles Dewey Davis IV out of their archetypal father's will. They are also on bad terms with the Davis Estate that includes his sister Cheryl that claimed, in a short statement, that it find no validity in the book
Gregory Davis traveled with his father off and on. Lived with him. Saw good and bad. Saw tenderness and tantrums, cruelty and compassion. He saw the drugs come and go, as well as the women. And he recounts some of those tales in a style that is straightforward, just as Miles did. Some sound meaner in the book that they may really be, since in talking with Gregory, there appears no sense of animosity.
Miles got him into boxing, which led to an award-winning amateur career. Miles taught him, in stern and uncompromising fashion, the trumpet, which Gregory plays to this day, including being a bandleader in search of a new CD. In turn, Greg was his protector at times, occasionally using his pugilistic skills to keep menacing drug dealers in their place when his father (only 5 foot 6 and often in pain and bad health) could not. Protector in drug situations. It was a hot and cold relationship, as one would expect when it involves the mercurial Miles. But water does travel under the bridge and move on.
It should, anyway.
"Sketches of Pain one headliner apparently couldn't resist above a recent review of Gregory's book. But in speaking with him, he really doesn't project that pain. Surely he went through it, but young Davis had his own problems, including drugs and brushes with the law. Sometimes it was a two-way street as to who hurt whom between father and son. Gregory reveals some of the outrageousness of Miles behavior at times. But speak with him, and it appears to be a "what's the big deal? attitude. He is proud of "father he didn't call him Dad, as he aptly explains in his book and feels he wasn't a failure as a father despite uncomfortable situations.
Is there an axe being ground? Are efforts to tour with a band and come out with a CD a deliberate capitalization on the book? One can't imagine Davis having an impact on the trumpet, especially at age 61, even remotely close to that which, say, Ravi Coltranea bitch of a playerhas on the saxophone. And yet capitalization and manipulation is such a part of any rock star's career, especially when it comes to CDs and tours, that it's a surprise when it doesn't happen. Was Rod Stewart's follow-up of a shit-filled standards album with yet another an attempt at capitalizing? That's really not important when it comes to the book, which offers another perspective on a musical legend. And this music that comes out will hopefully be judged of its own accord. And Davis is a decent guy. Approachable and open.
Gregory Davis spoke at length about Miles, music, drug use, the Miles legacy. The talk deliberately didn't try to hash through the problems among Miles' family. That's for them to figure out.
All About Jazz: What are you up to nowadays besides being an author?
Gregory Davis: Going to the gym regularly. Practicing the horn. We want to bring out a CD as fast as we can. We want the book and the CD to synergize each other. We're gonna hit 'em with a one-two punch if we can pull it off that way. Then probably a book tour. We're trying to set that up now. I've been talking to people on the phone all day about this and that. There are a lot of possibilities. All this promotional stuff. The promotional stuff has got to be set up right before anything else happens.
[In the past] I've recorded with people like Lester Bowie. I did a movie score years ago when I was traveling with my father, called God Is Not Dead. I did a B-flat blues in the movie score in Jimi Hendrix's studio, Electric Lady down in the West Village [NYC] years and years ago. This was when I first came to New York to help him out because he was going through so many changes and stuff. What I wanted to do was learn music at the same time that we were helping each other, father and son. I figured I'm interested in this horn, maybe my father, who is a great player, can show me something.
I wrote a suite and I've written a few songs also that I have copyrights on. They'll probably go on this new CD along with other new material.
I'm calling the band MDX. The X factor is "after Miles Davis.
AAJ: How do you feel now that the book is out? Has there been good feedback?
GD: There was a small book party at Mo Pitkins [Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction, NYC], a small venue. Greg Masters, the guy that puts on Miles Mondays [a weekly Miles Davis listening event at Pitkin's], he's a class act. Every Monday he plays Miles Davis music from every paradigm and from every era. He had called me and said, "Greg,would you like to do a little book party at Mo Pitkin's? In appreciation for what he does every Monday, I said okay. [Early December, 2006].
We need bigger venues, that's what we need . This book has got to fly. It's a sixteen-year-old baby. It might be a contradiction in terms, but it's been in the process for sixteen years. Some publishers thought this was gonna be a tirade or some kind of bitter book because he's a guy that was left out of the will. But it shows a different side of the man. It shows a personal side heretofore no one has seen from someone who lived with him, who was his son, grew up with him, cried with him, laughed with him, fought with him, who was in the trenches with him. Whatever he needed, I was there with him. Never been heard or seen before, from someone who really knows the man, who traveled with him from the age of ten years old.
As he got older and started ailing, he would call for me whenever he needed someone he could trust and rely on, out of love and respect. I never looked at him like a piece of meat, like, "We better get his name on this will. I did what I did out of love and respect.
AAJ: What was it like going through the process, going through all these memories? Was it fun, was it difficult at times?
GD: It was really fun at times and painful at times also. But I remember the good times. I have no hang-ups on the bad times. I'm not fused to any bad times. He was a man who went through the gamut of emotions and scenarios, as many different scenarios as you can think of. It was a full life, an extraordinary life. Amazing, amazing, gifted person. I was very honored to be with him and to be beside this man.
He was a social mover. People like Bogart, people like Elvis. These are social movers. He's the man that changed the sound of the trumpet. Louis Armstrong changed it, then he came along after Armstrong and nobody could touch him. You know it was Miles Davis if you heard him. He was in the forefront of every music paradigm. Not for the sake of change, but the music dictated to him that he must do it this way, or that way.
Even when he was in his house for a period of absence from the stage or from touring, the great musicians to the rookies would say, "What should we play, Miles? He only gave that to himself and his band. But they would come to him and ask him that. They knew that he knew.
AAJ: Some of the stories you got from your mom. Is she still around?
GD: She has Alzheimer's. She's in California for a warmer climate than the Midwest and St. Louis. St. Louis is very cold. I have to go see my mother.
AAJ: You mentioned in the book that you didn't like a lot of the other books on your father. I've read just about everything on him. I thought some of them were fairly thorough. Especially Ian Carr's and John Szwed's.
GD: I didn't say I didn't like any of them. Who's the guy that wrote Space Is the Place about Sun Ra?
AAJ: John Szwed.
GD: Yeah, John Szwed. He's a nice guy. I did an interview with him. I was appearing at a place called the Baby Jupiter with a band. He came in and said he was doing a book and wanted to do an interview. We had lunch. He's a nice guy and he wrote nice things about me. I appreciate his book.
AAJ: That's the first book that I read about Miles where somebody actually talked to you. I remember being surprised because writers always gave the impression that Miles didn't have anything to do with his kids, or very little. Then all of a sudden in John's book it talked about how you did this together and that together. I remember thinking, "This is the first time I've read that.
GD: He approached me in a gentlemanly fashion. I complied. It's no problem with me. Even though I was constructing my own book. I'm not funny like that. This [Miles] is a great man. This is a man that's given to the world. He's like public domain.
AAJ: Paul Tingen did the Electric Miles book. He never met your father, but through talking to Chick [Corea], and [Jack] DeJohnette and Dave Holland, I thought he did a very nice job.
GD: The reason I don't appreciate some of those books is because they never extended themselves to try to reach out to me. I'm still living. If you want to speak to somebody that knows the man, speak to his son. Speak to the one who traveled with him, that he called on to be with him, to be by his side. To be his protector, his assistant road man, whatever he needed. Just don't write a book about the man and put something in there that he don't know me. I don't appreciate that. I'm available. Find me.
I've been living in New York for years. There's someone that knows me that can get in contact with me if you're writing a book. That's what I don't appreciate about these people writing these books. They never do interviews with people that know the man, but they claim that the book has some factual material in it. How can it be factual if you don't interview his son?
AAJ: Some of them covered the musicians and life very well, the guys that he played with and traveled with. But a little light on the family stuff.
GD: Even in my extended family, I'm the only one that he called on. Out of all my brothers, I'm the one that he called on. This is what he did. I'm not setting myself up as someone better than anybody else. When he wanted something done, he called on me. He prepped me for this position during his lifetime, I guess, because he loved boxing. I'm the one that won all the trophies. He was friends with Sugar Ray Robinson. He talked to Muhammad Ali on the telephone. He was friends with all these great fighters and athletes. He supported me in boxing. It helped me along the way. When I was in the service [the Army] it helped keep me out of military duty because I went on the boxing team.
I'm the only one, if you ever saw the team picture, that has two trophies in his hand because I won in two weight classes.
AAJ: What weight classes were those?
GD: Light welterweight 139 and then 132 lightweight. I had to go down seven pounds. They said, "Davis, you have a chance. We don't have anybody to fight for the 132 championship. Within three days I had to do it. I was exhausted. They had me in a steam cabinet. I was training hard, hard hard, losing that seven pounds. You have to make weight, get on a scale or else you are disqualified.
It helped me help him, with all the hangers on and the bad drug deals and stuff that went on when I was with him. I had to protect him. I was kind of prepped for the situations that I had to endure while I was with him.
AAJ: A lot of the books, or if you talk to musiciansI've talked to Dave Holland, Herbie [Hancock] and Chick [Corea] and Elvin Jones, Sonny Rollins, Shirley Horn, other onesthey all describe him as highly intelligent, warm a lot of the time, and very funny. But mercurial, of course. Back and forth. Is that a fair assessment? I've never heard a musician speak ill of him.
GD: He was that kind of way. You have to remembera lot of people don't know thisMiles Davis comes from royalty. Our ancestry goes back. I've done research and I need to be doing even more research; that will be my second book, I think ... All the way back the Pharaohs. The black Pharaohs and the black Indians that came out of Mecca and Medina from the West Nile to the East Nile. He always said that he came from royalty. My ancestors did no harm to the earth. They did no harm to the animals. They were caretakers of God's domain. I think this was a gift back to my ancestors from him in some kind of way; one of the gifts. Giving this musical gift to humanity, through the ancestorship, inherited kingship all the way back to the black Pharaohs of Egypt, back further than that. Because they came over in ships. They weren't slaves when they came over here, my ancestors who were kings. They always used to tell him. He'd always say he came from royalty because they used to tell him that. He never checked it out. Now I'm the one that's checking that out.
He was highly gifted. I've seen him sleep with his eyes open, and I said to myself, "He must be asleep because he's snoring. This is something that highly intelligent and aware people do.
AAJ: Of course he had his moods...
GD: Mood swings. That's why he wasn't good for relationships with women, because he had so many mood swings.
AAJ: He had so many physical pains. He had the bad hips, he was in a car accident, and he was shot once. I think that's enough to make any of us irritable.
GD: Of course. Of course.
AAJ: Then the drugs made things worse. But even without drugs...
GD: The irritation when you have to stand and up and play trumpethe wouldn't sit down. He hated that. The only time was when his leg was in a cast and he'd sit down. He stood up, even though he was in pain. He had to take pills for that. It makes you irritable. He had so many pills he had to take for this and for that, and then have to perform and stand up on that leg and was in such pain.
AAJ: I don't think that's widely talked about. That would bother anybody.
GD: Sure. I remember he was in a hospital for special surgery. A profound specialist in that area operated on him and put a bone in his hipit was like an artificial hip that he had. He was in pain and he had to stand up and play the horn.
I remember times we were on the road when I knew he was spitting up blood, coughing up phlegm and this and that. He never missed a note. It was amazing. I used to take his horn in the wings [of the stage], on concerts, make sure they were ready to play. I knew he was sick, but he never missed a beat, never missed a note. If he missed a note, he would always know how to end it or fix it up so you couldn't recognize it, or turn it into something else.
AAJ: A woman who did a magazine piece, Cheryl McCall, traveled with the band for a bit. She said he was even fatherly toward the band. He was playing with younger guys in the '80s. Joey DeFrancesco, who was a teenager with Miles, told me that too. Is that a side of him you saw with his band mates?
GD: Yeah. As I said, when he was off and not playing on stage people used to come and ask them, "What should we play? He kept that to himself, only giving it to the musicians who were in his 'school, in his band. With that kind of information, it had to be fatherly. He was giving them information that should have been his alone. He was giving them information they couldn't learn in school. They were getting it from the horse's mouth.
AAJ: In your book you talk about how good a trumpeter Miles was as a youngster and how Elwood Buchanan [Miles' early instructor] knew that. Some articles written a while ago say he wasn't all that good when he was young. I always doubted that. It doesn't make any sense. How did he make it to New York if he wasn't any good?
GD: Clark Terry saw it. He was a great trumpet player when my father was coming up, one of my father's great idols. Clark recognized it and saw his potential, even at an early age. He probably didn't have the exposure. After he got the exposure, he traveled frequently to Pittsburgh and Detroit, even at an early age when he was in high school. He was playing music. His father and mother didn't really realize what he was doing. He was sneaking off doing these dates and stuff like that. He made himself familiar with the music.
He always put high goals upon himself and he expected the same out of some people. That's what really angered him a lot of times. People wouldn't come up to his expectations.
AAJ: Would you say that's one of the reasons why he had distrust, or would only let certain people close to him?
GD: He had a distrust of some people, but if he got to know you, you were alright with him. He would loan people money and expect the same kindness in return, or just expect it back. But sometimes people take kindness for weakness, or kindness for granted. He couldn't understand that and it really hurt him. "Here's $500, or here's $1,500. Just give it back to me when you say you're going to give it back. Then they would pitty-pat on it, "Here's $10 Miles or "Here's $15. It hurt him when people betrayed his trust. Especially women.
AAJ: You also mentioned, briefly, Peter Bradley. When did you know that he was your brother?
GD: Peter is like my adopted brother. Peter spent a lot of time with Art Blakey, spent a lot of time with Miles Davis. He thinks he may be Miles' son. [Miles] used to go to Detroit a lot when he was in high school. Peter's mother was great friends with my father. He doesn't know for sure that he's Miles Davis' son, but he thinks he is. Peter's a genius. He's a great artist. He was one of the only black artists as well as dealers. He became rich at an early age and had a Ferrari himself. He and Miles used to hang out together. He's been supporting me. He wants to see me carry this legacy on. Nobody can carry this legacy on but a Davis. Forget about any other person.
AAJ: When you speak about his relationships with women, is it bothersome to you, or is it something you get over?
GD: They can be your best friend or your worst enemy, you know, if you've ever been involved. He was so judgmental and had so many mood swings. And he was rich. A lot of times people can't relate anyone being rich. He didn't bend for anyone. He was independent. He didn't have to depend on them for money or for anything. He expected them to think and to know him intimately. I don't expect any woman to really know me. I expect them to try to understand me. He expected them to try to understand. If he said something was blue and it was green, he expected them to say, "Yes. That is blue. He would get angry if they didn't say it, or believe the way he believed.
So at times, he was very hard on them. But he gave them gifts. He would give them jewelry and money. They'd get the money to go shopping. He treated them like queens. Then, on the other hand, they would have to be at his beckon call. If he would whistle, and that's what he usually did, they'd have to come downstairs within a minute. It was his bidding, and that's what he expected.
AAJ: Was that bothersome to you, looking back? Or is that just the way it was?
GD: It's just the way he was. I never thought that it was correct. Maybe some of them liked it. I'm not a woman so I can't say.
AAJ: In the years you were around him, what kind of music did you hear? Who were the musicians you saw?
GD: He used to play music all the time. When we were on 312 West 77th Street [NYC] he used to play music all the time, especially stuff that he was working on. He had reel-to-reel tapes. He used to play rehearsal music, stuff he and Gil [Evans] were working on.. He used to play music from that paradigm to learn what he was doing. When he was doing the Sketches of Spain work with Gil, he would play Spanish gypsy music; have it on all night. He would play Porgy and Bess, some parts over and over and over again. He listened to all facets of music if he saw something in it. If he saw a substance that he wanted out of it, he would listen to James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Bartok, you name it. Stravinsky. He would put it on, just to get something in his musical head that he wanted to do.
AAJ: When you went to clubs and stuff, what struck you about the music, or about Miles?
GD: When I first went to hear him play, I was a young guy. We took a propeller plane to Chicago. I was a kid of around eight years old or ten years old. I was airsick, We got to the joint called the Crown Pillar. Philly Joe [Jones], Red Garland, Paul Chambers, that classic band that he had. Coltrane was there. At the time I was playing drums. After they played he asked me to come on stage and sit in Philly Joe Jones drum seat and take a little solo. He said, 'This is my son. He's gonna play a little drums.'
The music impacted meI shook all over when I heard that music. I was a child. This thing unnerved me. When I heard that band strike those chords, it really unnerved me. First of all, when we got off the plane I immediately went into the restroom and threw up. I was airsick. Then we had to rush to the joint because he was almost late. He set me right in front. These were great players. Everybody's a legend. Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers. They blew right in my face. It was like somebody hit me with a musical cannonball. It shook me all over. A chill came down my spine. I said, "What is this? I had never heard any music live.
AAJ: How about later when you were traveling with him as part of his road crew? Did it still have that kind of effect?
GD: He was just amazing. Every time that I heard him. I never heard him play a bad tune or a bad note. Even if he was sick and spitting up blood on stage. I had to carry him to the hospital in San Francisco. I knew he was sick, but he never missed a note. He'd stand on stage and turn it into something different. Everybody loved it. He was cursing on the stage, spitting up and everything, sick as a dog. Never missed a note. Amazing, amazing, amazing music always. Whatever condition. He never ceased to thrill.
AAJ: Any particular band members you got to know real well, or liked their music struck you when you were with them?
GD: Every single band that he had, if he was in front of that band, he made that band cook. Whatever band he was with, he brought the best out of them. So I can't say. I was with them with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Herbie Hancock. We were in Chicago, I think the Jazz Showcase, and Wayne was playing a split horn. And Wayne said, "Greg, I like this horn because it has a different sound. And mind you, it was like a student horn. He was telling me that he wasn't playing his regular horn, but he wanted to play the horn because he heard something in this particular horn. That's how musicians are. He was stretching.
They were really exploring at that time, stretching the limits, and it made Miles explore more too. They were taking it out, and then bringing it back in. Taking it all the way outside the melody and then brining it back in. Using a lot of diminished chords. But if he was in front of that band, he would bring it back in. They would take it out, but he would sure enough bring 'em back in like you bring a horse back in line after he's been raring to go and racing.
Each band he had amazed me. I don't know why people say he sold out, or this or that, with fusion. He was always in the forefront of music. He was a social movement. He was like Bogart or Elvis, but even more than that. He changed the sound of the trumpet, the whole instrument. Before him, Satchmo did it. He was always in the forefront of music. Everybody appreciated him. Even the rock stars. As a matter of fact, that trophy is sitting in my house right now, that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trophy.
AAJ: In that book, there's a picture of you at the awards ceremony, you and Cheryl [his sister] at the podium. It doesn't identify the others, but isn't that Erin [Davis, his half-brother] and your cousin Vincent [Wilburn, who spent time as a drummer in Miles' '80s bands]?
AAJ: Is the other guy [far left] Miles IV?
GD: No, that was Paul, Cheryl's son.
AAJ: You talked about the cocaine use too. Do you think anyone could have stopped that? Or was he so strong-headed no one could do anything about it?
GD: He stopped heroin. Even to talk about it made him ill. The coke gave him a little more energy and a little more stamina to play, to work. It brought his body around to where his mind was, so to speak. His mind was always racing. If you got a sixty year-old body and a genius mind of sixteen, you need something that's going to bring that body along with that mind. Because you want to race and your body says, "Hold it. Wait a minute.
When he wasn't working, he was like a fish out of water. You can never get enough of cocaine. You always abuse it. It's a drug where you're always looking for that first rush. Over and over and over again. He had a lot of fun with it, with the women, with this and with that. But you abuse it and abuse it so much, things happen and things happen and you don't know yourself. He didn't know himself after a while. He became like a Mr. Hyde. That's what happens.
He was not raised that way. When you look at that picture of my mother and my father together, that's the Miles that wanted to come to New York City and be with Charlie Parker and wanted to explore horizons in music. You have to go back to that to get the pure Miles.
AAJ: Are you judgmental about him using the cocaine, are you angry, or is it just one of those things that you couldn't control?
GD: Nobody could control it. I talked to him. I was his father at times, trying to get him not to use so much. The thing is, if you have a young girl on your shoulder that's a coke freak, you know, you want to do more for her because you want to party with her. What are you gonna do? Your physical weakness overcomes you. You submit to doing the stuff. Even if you want to change. That's what happened to him. You have to keep yourself away from all the hangers- on.
He was like a fish out of water when he wasn't working. A lot of athletes are like that. They have extra energy they don't know what to do with when they're not working. He was like that. He paid for it. He became Mr. Hyde. He was Dr. Jekyll with the music, but he became Mr. Hyde. He wasn't doing anything positive.
AAJ: You were around him in that period from 1975-80 when he didn't play. Was it as dismal as people used to say it was? They said all he did was do drugs and have sex with women and his house was dark and dirty. Which I'm sure is true in part. But more recently people have written that it wasn't as bad as many writers tried to paint it. He did play some music. I think it was John Szwed who said he played some music with Larry Coryell at one point. And he would tinker at the piano and try and figure out tunes once in a while.
GD: He did tinker at the piano. I remember him. Music never left him. He might have had a revolving door with women and drugs at certain times. But music always consumed him. He would find melodies and write little melodies out.
The bottom on Miles Davis is that he loved beautiful melodies. He was one person that could play "Bye, Bye Blackbird or "You Don't Know What Love Is and make it his own. He owned those tunes. Someone else may have written it, but when he put that mute on that horn, he changed the sound of the horn and made those songs his. He always loved melody. Even though he played fusion, he put melody in fusion. People don't understand how he mixed jazz and rock. He could do it. He had the genius.
AAJ: I don't want to rehash the stuff with the will and everything, but has your family read the book?
GD: They've been on record in newspaper that they're ignoring it, but that's silly. If they say they're ignoring it, you know they're reading it. They have to read it. People tell me you can't be a Miles Davis fan without reading that book. They have to say they're ignoring it because they have other plans in the works. I don't know the details. They're going to have to come around. People are beginning to understand the cover's being pulled off of them. They're having to explain themselves.
AAJ: What about your band, are you touring with a group?
GD: We have to go into a studio with the MDX band. We have some beautiful music. The music is made for large venues like arts centers and Madison Square Garden. This is not a club kind of band. I've got a guitarist that stretches out like Jimi Hendrix. He needs stacks of Marshall speakers.
AAJ: Is it fusion, or how would you describe it?
GD: There are no more boundaries. I would say it has beautiful melodies in it. It's mixed with some blues, some rock, some jazz. It's like jazz meets blues, jazz meets fusion, jazz meets techno. There are no more boundaries. This music is not hard to listen to. That has become such a problem.
Pure jazz, which is beautiful, is an area. But it's a small, diminishing area. People are not that esoteric. They can't get with all of that stretching out. People are more pop oriented now. You have to deal with the times and you have to put your creative qualities where they are most expeditious.
AAJ: You don't have a CD yet.
GD: No. We need to get into the studio and do that. We've been rehearsing it. We have the music already laid out. We need some financial backing for that.
AAJ: Who else, besides, obviously your father, influenced your playing?
GD: Clark Terry. Dizzy Gillespie. Louis Armstrong. Those are the primary ones that I listened to and take bits and pieces of what they did. You can never do what they did. You have to take bits and pieces and keep turning them around and see if they can fit your repertoire. I'm not trying to be my father, I'm trying to do my own thing. If it comes out strong like he did it, then so be it.
The name of the band is MDX, the X-factor you can say is the continuation after Miles Davis. The mystic element after Miles. The MDX band. People go for acronyms now. There are all these bands (on the scene) that are acronyms. But this band means something because it's named after a great man and it has the X-factor, meaning the factor that's after him, the continuation after Miles.
AAJ: Would you ever want to do anything like play with Erin (his half-brother and a drummer)?
GD: Of course. Sure. I have no problem with that.
AAJ: That might be cool, I would think.
GD: I have no problem with that. I'm not one that divides family. I'm one right now that's trying to unify the family; get it back together and not let money be an issue, greed be an issue and not let small things like that be an issue. This legacy is bigger than all of us. It's not about greed not money to me. It never has been.
I did what I did out of love and respect for my father. I never thought of him as a piece of meat. "We'd better get his signature on this will so we'll get something after he's dead. I never thought of him like that. Maybe I should have, in a way, because you see what happened.
AAJ: Does little Miles (Miles IV) play an instrument?
GD: No. He's not interested in doing anything like that. He loves cars. He's a good person. He's not involved with music. He listens, but he doesn't play anything. He used to play drums.
AAJ: Is he around New York?
GD: He's in St. Louis. I talked to him recently. I think he's going to move to the west coast where it's warmer. My mother is there also. He enjoys driving his Porsche.
AAJ: Looking back on it all, is there something you miss the most about your father, something you admire the most?
GD: I miss his guidance. I can still tune into him. It may seem strange to you or anybody else. I can still tune into him, get small gifts from him. If I'm at peace, I can tune into him and he can tell me what he wants to tell me and show me things.
When I was a kid we used to play ball together, go to boxing matches, we used to hop in a yellow cab and go to Yankee Stadium. Father and son stuff. He was a real father. He would dress his kids out of Sachs Fifth Avenue. He was a great father. He was successful and he wanted to give it to his kids. That's one reason I know he would not leave his kids out of his will. Of course he would get angry at times. He wouldn't have thought like that or gone forward with anything like that (leaving kids out of the will).
AAJ: You guys had problems at different times in your life, which isn't unusual. But are there any big regrets in that regard?
GD: I regret that I didn't see himhe wanted to see me before he died. He tried to wait on me. I found out that he had been in the hospital for about two months, and they called me two days before he was gone. If that's not some kind of evil, I don't know what is. When a man is on his death bed, you give him his last request.
I'm sorry I didn't see him. He tried to wait. He told his brother (Vernon), who told my friend. That's how I know that Miles said, "Tell Gregory I tried to wait on him.