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Pete Cosey

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Biography

Pete Cosey is an African-American guitarist most famous for playing with Miles Davis’ band between 1973 and 1975. His fiercely flanged and distorted guitar bore comparisons to Jimi Hendrix. Cosey has kept a low profile for much of his career (he has released no solo recorded works), though he remains an active player.

Prior to joining the Miles Davis band in 1973, Cosey was a busy session guitarist with Chess Records, playing on records by Etta James, Rotary Connection, Howlin’ Wolf (The Howlin’ Wolf Album) and Muddy Waters (Electric Mud).

Cosey was also an early member of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). He was an early member of The Pharoahs and a group with drummer Maurice White and bassist Louis Satterfield that eventually evolved into Earth, Wind & Fire. Some of his pre-Miles jazz playing is available on albums by Phil Cohran’s Artistic Heritage Ensemble.

After joining Miles, Cosey performed on the albums Get Up with It, Dark Magus, Agharta and Pangaea. By 1975, Cosey had developed a remarkably advanced guitar approach — involving numerous alternate tunings, guitars restrung in unusual patterns and a post-Hendrix palette of distortion, wah-wah and guitar synth effects — that has influenced many adventurous guitarists, including Henry Kaiser and Vernon Reid.

Following the 1975 break-up of the Miles Davis Band, Cosey largely disappeared from public view.

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