The singer’s friend, Danielle Maggio, confirmed the news to Rolling Stone on Wednesday (9 February).
Davis, who was the ex-wife of jazz singer Miles Davis, died of natural causes.
The singer was considered an icon of the funk genre, and was best known for hits including “Get Ready for Betty”, “It’s My Life” and “If I’m in Luck I Might Get Picked Up”.
She also wrote songs for other artists, including the Chamber Brothers hit “Uptown (to Harlem)”.
The majority of Davis’ songs were released between 1964 and 1975. Her self-titled debut album arrived in 1973, with two more –They Say I’m Different and Nasty Gal –following in 1974 and 1975, respectively.
She recorded most of her music between 1964 and 1975, and is considered to have been a trailblazer who was under-appreciated at the time.
Davis was known for her provocative lyrics, which were so controversial when she wrote them that she was banned from performing her songs on television in the US.
After quitting the music industry in 1979, Davis moved to Pittsburgh and, in 2018, said of her retirement to the New York Times: “When I was told that it was over, I just accepted it. And nobody else was knocking at my door.”
Davis met Miles when she was a model in 1966. They married two years later, but separated the following year. Miles accused Davis of having an affair with Jimi Hendrix, which Davis always denied.
Her life was explored in the 2017 documentary Betty: They Say I’m Different.
More to follow