Miles Davis is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight. Not as an "early influence," as Hank Williams, Louis Jordan, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton were; that category is for artists whose careers were established long before rock 'n' roll began. (The hall has not inducted anyone in that category since 2001.) Davis is being recognized as a rock star.
This seems provocative for a second, and then a little meaningless. It is not some sort of timely argument for underappreciated work; adventurous musicians like those in the Black Rock Coalition have been claiming Davis's electric period as an inspiration for decades. There are some jazz adherents who never liked Davis's long electric phase and will be mildly outraged. But after all the jagged turns of his career, and its thorough box-set gilding, most of us have long since let Davis's body of work just assume its own meaning.