American jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis (1926-1991) performs live on stage in Berlin, West Germany in November 1973. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

How Miles Davis’ Malibu days were full of ‘racist’ police harassment

Miles Davis lived his final years in Malibu. The jazz legend drove a yellow Ferrari and would get repeatedly pulled over by the police. “They ask me who I work for,” he said in a 1985 interview for SPIN.

Miles Davis, on the hood of a Lamborghini, collected exotic cars.
Mark Patiky/Condé Nast via Getty Images

Davis preferred living in New York, “where the shit is really happening,” as he described it in his autobiography.

But he was drawn to the Pacific coast in his twilight years as he sought a quieter and warmer life. His brushes with law enforcement in the overwhelmingly white community left him embittered. He recalled how officers would sometimes accuse him of being drunk behind the wheel. Davis had by that time given up alcohol.

“It’s just racist,” he said. “But we Black folks know about that. It happens every day to a Black person.”

Davis painted and created music at his beachfront home until his death following complications from pneumonia on Sept. 28, 1991. He was 65.

One of the last albums he made was called “You’re Under Arrest.” It was a cry of frustration inspired by his interactions with the Southern California police.

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