Miles Davis’ Longtime Friend Buddy Gist Dies

GREENSBORO – Greensboro native Arthur “Buddy” Gist, the longtime friend of jazz great Miles Davis, died Sunday at the Golden Living Center.

Gist, 84, had been living there since July, when he suffered a stroke.

The jazz enthusiast grew up in the Magnolia House, the spot off Gorrell Street that his mother ran. It was the only place between Atlanta and Richmond, Va., where blacks could stay during the Jim Crow era. Musicians such as Louis Armstrong ate country ham slathered with maple syrup cooked by Buddy’s mom.

Gist went to New York in 1949 after graduating from N.C. A&T in 1947 and spending two years in the Navy.

He started out waiting tables, then turned into a business entrepreneur, a sharp-minded Southerner who sold coffee and cars. He befriended some of the biggest names in jazz – Count Basie, John Coltrane and, of course, Miles Davis.

Davis and Gist met in 1949 at Birdland, the famous jazz spot in New York City, and over time, they shared a fondness for boxing, business, women, sharp clothes, jazz and the horn.

In the 1960s, Davis gave Gist the trumpet he played during a two-day recording session in the spring of 1959. That recording is now a cornerstone of modern music: “Kind of Blue.”

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