Miles Davis Statue
Born in Alton, Illinois May, 26, 1926, Miles Dewey Davis III would grow to become defensibly the best trumpeter and one of the most influential musicians in history. Son of middle-class parents living in East St. Louis- Davis' father was a local dentist and his mother a music teacher and violinist. Davis received music education from his mother early in life and grew up listening to early blues, big bands, and gospel. At nine years old, Davis received his first trumpet from a friend of his father, John Eubanks and started taking lessons from one of his father's patients, Elwood Buchanan who was, according to Davis, "the biggest influence of my life."
Davis performed in home talent shows as a child, joined East St. Louis Lincoln High School marching band, performed in music competitions, and joined local groups playing small venues in southwest Illinois and the greater St. Louis area in his late teens. In St. Louis in 1944, Davis met early jazz performers: Billy Eckstine, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker. This meeting led Davis to New York where he auditioned and was accepted to the Julliard School of Performing Arts. In the big city, Davis met many more famous jazz musicians including J. J. Johnson, Kenny Clarke, Thelonious Monk, Fats Navarro, and Freddie Webster. Davis continued his education but was arguably more interested in following his idols, the foremost being Charlie Parker.
Over six decades, Davis developed his own unique sound and became a master of the trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, electric organ, and piano- playing jazz, hard bop, cool jazz, modal jazz, and jazz fusion. Davis collaborated with John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Philly Joe Jones, Joe Zawinul, Paul Chambers, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett, Prince, and many, many others. Davis was and is the inspiration for hundreds, if not thousands, of artists across the world and is revered as "the best trumpeter of all time", "one of the most important musicians of the 20th century", and the "16th most important musician in history." Davis was signed under multiple record labels including: Prestige, Blue Note, Columbia Records, Capitol Records, Fontana, and Warner Brothers Records. Davis was a musician, bandleader, composer, and producer until his death in Santa Monica, California at the age of 65 on September, 28, 1991.
The statue of Miles Davis in Alton, the only statue of the musician in the United States and one of only three of Davis in the world, was made possible by a collaboration between the Alton Museum of History and Art, the Miles Davis Memorial Project and Pride Incorporated. The 6'5" statue was sculpted by artist Preston Jackson, a lifelong fan of Davis. Jackson drew inspiration from photographs of Davis and listened to his music during the sculpting process. The statue was created using the "wax by eye" modeling process and cast in bronze and depicts a 30-year old Davis, lost in song, on the trumpet. The statue can be visited at Miles Davis Memorial Plaza on west 3rd Street in Alton's entertainment district.