TIR 155: Mills Spills Stories of Original Nasty Gal Betty Davis


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott “DR GX” Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 155 (3 parts): Keyboardist-singer Fred Mills, a member of notorious funk queen Betty Davis’ 1970s band. He contributed to her classic recordings that bridged the rock-funk influences of Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone and Janis Joplin, and also toured with the controversial icon. Davis’ great tunes include “If I’m in Luck I Might Get Picked Up,” “Anti-Love Song,” “He Was a Big Freak,” “Your Mama Wants You Back,” “They Say I’m Different,” “Nasty Gal,” “Talkin Trash” and “Whorey Angel.”

Her first album in 1973 was produced by Sly & the Family Stone drummer Greg Errico (featured in another TRUTH IN RHYTHM episode) and featured members of Graham Central Station. Davis, whose last name came from a short marriage with jazz legend Miles Davis, released three blistering albums in the first half of the 1970s, but her raw sounds and overt sexuality relegated her to cult status. By the end of that decade, she abandoned her music career, seldom to be heard from again. However, through the years her status grew such that today she is considered a trailblazing legend.

That story is told in 2017’s documentary, “Betty: They Say I’m Different,” which also features Mills and other members of her Funkhouse band. Here he shares insights into her enigmatic life, trailblazing and music.