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Miles: The Autobiography

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,177 Ratings  ·  425 Reviews
'LISTEN. The greatest feeling I ever had in my life -- with my clothes on -- was when I first heard Diz and Bird back in 1944. I've come close to matching the feeling of that night, but I've never quite got there. I'm always looking for it, trying to always feel it in and through the music I play ...'
Paperback, 421 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Picador USA (first published 1989)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Books Ring Mah Bell
Mar 03, 2008 Books Ring Mah Bell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-arts
****Bad words ahead!!! stop reading now if you get your panties in a bunch around "naughty words". ****
If foul language offends you, DO NOT pick up this book.
If you could give a shit, pick it up and enjoy!

one motherfucking good read!

-read it with a glass of wine and some miles playing in the background-
it will blow your mind, motherfucker!
Ben Loory
Jun 09, 2009 Ben Loory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i won't say this is the absolute best book i've ever read, but it sure is a motherfucker, as miles would probably say if he were here. though actually he'd probably just punch me in the face for saying that and tell me to come up with my own shit to say, instead of copying him and trying to look hip when i'm not. and he'd be right about that as he is about pretty much everything else, except maybe on the question of whether or not one should beat women, but hey, everybody's got their blind side. ...more
Stephen P
Apr 04, 2016 Stephen P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sitting across from me he continues telling me about his life. I don’t particularly like him or find him interesting, at least not as interesting as he finds himself. Laying a line of cocaine on the tabletop, he snorts it then orders another drink. There is one exception which has and still runs through our conversation. His life is lived not only for creativity but for reaching, for further and new means of reaching. This is the experience which provides the meaning in his life. I’m coming to s ...more
Ethan Miller
Feb 21, 2009 Ethan Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute must for musicians and fans. I would think this autobiography would be interesting for anyone just based on the insight into such a magnificent cultural era(s) in our country but I am biased because I love Miles and his work. The narrative really reads like you are being spoken to in Davis' tone, cadence and patois. And he seems to hold little back including a lot of recollections and ideas that you wish were not part of someone's heart and mind that you so greatly admire. But that i ...more
Sep 12, 2015 Nate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned, music
A long, rambling epic that careens between stuff like Miles breaking down in surprising depth the multiple jazz zeitgeists he was involved in and Miles uncomfortably sitting in the back of a car with Charlie "Bird" Parker and a prostitute while Bird simultaneously gets his dick sucked and eats chicken. So much fucking dirt on the musical idols of every jazz nerd... according to Miles Mingus was an intensely racist rageaholic, Armstrong was an Uncle Tom, Coltrane was a nose-picker and Billie Holl ...more
Ian Not His Real Name
Mar 31, 2015 Ian Not His Real Name rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: muse-ik
"Some kind of happiness is measured out in Miles."
Ben Winch
Feb 13, 2012 Ben Winch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
This is one of the most inspiring musician biographies I've ever read, and I'm not a rabid Miles fan. It's good in the same way the recent Keith Richards autobiography is good - because it's a book about music by a guy who loves music, has played a lot of music and knows a lot about music. Also, unlike the comparable Ray Charles autobiography it doesn't wind down halfway through when it becomes clear its protagonist is an incurable man of habit and a control freak. Nah, that ain't Miles. Miles i ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Andre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a treat. I waited far too long to read this book, but I finally did and have been richly rewarded. I now have this book as the 2nd best biography I have ever read. For those who are interested in the first, it is Arthur Ashe. But Miles came damn close to challenging for that number one spot. He was extremely genuine and forthright about his life, even admitting to slapping and abusing women, which is brave, only because it isn't mandatory to reveal such scurrilous behavior.

The honesty abou
Allan MacDonell
Mar 27, 2011 Allan MacDonell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Miles Davis's autobiography takes no pains whatsoever to varnish the author's reputation as a kind and loving human being. By far, the word that appears more often than any other in Miles: The Autobiography, written in partnership with Quincy Troupe, is that 12-letter, four-syllable all-purpose standby for a person who engages in sexual relations with his own mother. In whip-quick conversational prose that moves with the deft, percussive rhythms of truth when it riffs out hesitation free, Davis ...more
Oct 28, 2010 tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One bad*ss motherf*cker.
Dec 25, 2014 Columbus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite simply, this is one of the best autobiographies you will ever read. It's just a real honest look at a musical genius who gives it all to you Straight, No Chaser (referencing Thelonious Monk) with all of the warts and flaws included.

If you thought you knew everything about Miles Davis you might want to read this book to find out otherwise. He is brutally honest about everything here including: racism, drugs, women, physical abuse, music, family issues etc...This book is written in a very co
Aug 23, 2009 Julene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creativity
I love this book. It is in Miles own words from interviews and he says it like it is, lays out his life, his music and many personal aspects of relationships with family and women, as well as his health. A brilliant musician he was a master at mentoring musicians. If you want to learn about the creative process this book provides an amazing study.

Some quotes:
"A musician's attitude is the music he plays."
"Things take time, you know, you just don't learn something new and do it overnight. It has
This is a very honest autobiography. Davis thought (for good reason) that he was a wonderful musician and didn't let anyone dissuade him. At the same time, in many respects this book is a name dropping list of great musicians Davis worked with and for and lauched. I was turned off by the language even though I knew that it was absolutely Davis's voice. I also didn't think he explained the politics of Black Power well enough. I understood his point of view but he tried to stay apolitical while ha ...more
Jan 15, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As usual, it took me no time at all to finish this one since it has to do with a subject I'm obsessed with. There couldn't be a more mind-boggling character of the Black Jazz community of the 20th century than this man.(maybe Archie Shepp)[where's his book?:] It reads so well, giving you the sense that he's just sitting there lighting cigarette after cigarette, pouring brandy after brandy. Each time you pick it back up, he's wearing a new pair of sunglasses, or a new fucked up hat. It also made ...more
Jul 30, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jazz lovers
Shelves: jazznbeats
When Miles played his trumpet he's a crowd pleaser, and this book does just that. There's some great anecdotes in this book, like Miles telling us one of the biggest influences on his trumpet playing was Orson Welles' soothing radio voice(!). He tells us John Coltrane used to pick his boogers and eat them (!). Whether he's telling Thelonious Monk to fuck off or fight a drug habit, Miles has served a real page-turner. You won't get bored with this one!
Sentimental Surrealist
Over the course of these four hundred pages, Miles switches between electrifying discussions of his and others' creative processes and insults directed at the musicians he worked with. Take it as you will, I guess, but the music-talk is as wonderful as one would expect. And treat yourself to a shot of the liquor of your choice every time he calls someone or something a motherfucker.
Aug 20, 2008 Seth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
tips for being a great artist:

1) never doubt yourself
2) never repeat yourself
3) never admit that you were wrong
4) do drugs

Maya B
Mar 20, 2016 Maya B rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-book, jazz, biography
this was a very candid, no holds barred autobiography. I felt like I really knew Miles Davis after reading this book. I know there is a movie coming soon and I cant wait to see it. I will update this review after I see the movie

WARNING: don't read if you are going to feel offended by the cuss words.
Alex Pyatetsky
Dec 24, 2015 Alex Pyatetsky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The word "Autobiography" in the title isn't accidental as this book could have easily been called, "Setting the Record Straight, Motherfuckers."

Like Mike Tyson's incredible autobiography, Miles leaves no room for speculation with his brutally forthcoming depiction of addiction, neuroticism, failure as a parent and even domestic violence.

This book documents the process that was Miles Davis. Like Steve Jobs, Miles gives you no room to romanticize the person behind the creation. It forces you to wr
Michael Anderson
When I drove from SC to CA roughly a thousand years ago, it was in an old Ford Pinto station wagon with a radio and an 8-track tape player. It wasn't until I was passing through Texas and radio coverage became limited to cowboy country music and low wattage repent-or-get-fucked-to-hell tele-preachers, that I realized I had no music in the car. I looked around and, under the passenger seat, found a copy of Miles Davis's Live-Evil. I looped that tape nonstop all the way to LA and ended up developi ...more
Jan 24, 2015 Harley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first and only Miles Davis album that I ever bought was Bitches Brew in 1970. I later used the music on the album to jar students in a training class to think creativity, but have not listened to the album in years. So I did not know what to expect when I decided to listen to the autobiography of Miles Davis. The original book came out in 1989. The audio recording that I listened to came out in 2012. I have since listened to the Kind of Blue which many consider his magnum opus. I loved it.

Feb 16, 2013 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is a re-read for me, one of those i read in grad school for my cw project and wanted to come back b/c a new audio book version had come out. a previous audio had come out years ago with LeVar Burton dropping Miles f*bombs and motherf*bombs, but since it was abridged, it had the feel of a history book, with "I played on this date with these musicians" and "I played on that date" peppering the latter stages of the material. Plus while Burton stretched himself to read the book, you never truly ...more
Feb 12, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the book has an amazing beginning, but unfortunately really goes down hill as soon as Miles establishes himself as a solo musician. Mirroring the book's decline, Miles also completely changes around this time. Starting with an upperclass and educated background, Miles quickly turns into a hate-filled, drug addict, racist megalomaniac. Maybe his personality became so unattractive that it detracted from my enjoyment of the book. There really isn't that much information about the music once you rea ...more
Nov 10, 2013 Blaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
As Miles might whisper, this is a motherfucker of an autobiography. Chock full of juicy anecdotes from the world of jazz, Miles tells the truth in his own words from the depths of heroin addiction to the heights of the great quintet sessions. All along the way he tells his story from his perspective, both dishing out the dirt on everyone from Charlie Parker to Billie Holiday to singing their praises. Mostly follows his life chronologically revealing more about the man that will make you either l ...more
Andrew G
Nov 29, 2012 Andrew G rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Like hearing one of his albums, his thirst for constant upheaval and innovation dominates the book. It's full of fascinating stories entertainingly told, and a lot of it is fucking hilarious. He doesn't gloss over his past drug addictions, domestic abuses or madness and he can be a frightening figure sometimes, but his raw honesty is one of the books strong points.
His racism becomes distracting at times, but for someone growing up in the mid west during the 30's I guess it's expected. Dark, fun
This was one heck of an autobiography. I've never seen anyone write something about themselves that was so transparent. I have a thing for people that just don't give a damn what other people think. It takes courage to live your life on your own terms. And Miles Davis was clearly one of those types of people.

If interested, I wrote a thorough review over on the blog:
May 25, 2016 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, audiobook
I knew next to nothing about Miles Davis before starting the audio version of his autobiography, beyond reading bits in Jazz books about Davis forming bands and pioneering Jazz Fusion. I suspect that had I met Miles Davis, he wouldn’t like me. Seems he didn’t like a lot of people. Had we the opportunity to talk, I suspect I wouldn’t like him. Davis seems to have had the uncanny ability to say just the thing to make someone angry. But I found myself really enjoying listening to his story, narrate ...more
Mar 04, 2013 Fraser rated it it was amazing
Still one of the best books about music, musicianship and an incredible life I have had the fortune to read.

You can just imagine Miles telling this story to you in his gravel like voice, direct and unflinching.

I loved listening to Miles, and this just completed the picture as to why he was one (if not THE) foremost musician of the 20th century. A true great.
Karen Newberry
I didn't love Miles Davis after reading this but I do think it was an honest and accurate biography. Tons of detail about his life and the evolution of Jazz from the 1940's-1980's.
Brian Childs
Feb 08, 2016 Brian Childs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, the audio book for this was extraordinary, I can't overstate how well Dion Graham did at giving the impression that Miles Davis was actually reading the book. The book, which was written as if it was a long monologue, really lent itself to this format.

The book itself was excellent, the story was vivid, vulgar, and it let itself be imperfect the way recalling memory can be. Miles' talents and shortcomings felt unedited, authentic and on full display. Anyone who loves Miles Davis's mus
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Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer.

Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Davis was at the forefront of almost every major development in jazz from World War II to the 1990s. He played on various early bebop records and recorded one of the first cool jazz records. He was partially responsible for the development of m
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“It’s like, how did Columbus discover America when the Indians were already here? What kind of shit is that, but white people’s shit?” 57 likes
“Knowledge is freedom and ignorance is slavery” 41 likes
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