Brief Encounters With Clive Davis!

June 8, 2007

clive-whit.jpg

Long before Clive Davis, was known as the genius behind the recording careers of all the “American Idols”, he was already a legend!

I was skeptical when I heard a lawyer was taking over as head of Columbia records, until I met Clive Davis at Woodstock in 1969. Awash in the rain, the mud, and the good vibrations, I remember sharing a bottle of water with him and thinking how cool it was for the head of a record company to be out here “roughing it” with his artists!

The next time I saw him, it was at a Columbia record convention in Los Angeles, soon after Janis Joplin passed away. I knew that he and Janis had been close and mentioned that Allan Rinde, Michael Ochs and I had been with her at the Whiskey, a few nights before she died. Reverently, Clive asked me to join him in one of the conference rooms, where he played me an acetate, which he was going to introduce at the convention later that afternoon, “Me And Bobby McGee”by Janis…it was a moment I’ll always remember.

His personal taste in pop music of the sixties, and his signings at the label, put Columbia at the head of the pack. Janis Joplin and Big Brother & the Holding Company, Laura Nyro, Electric Flag, Santana, Chicago, Billy Joel, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Pink Floyd were all top moneymakers.

I was a bit worried, however, when he took over as president of Bell records just before he changed it’s name to Arista. I was with Warner Brothers Music, and had a record recently released on Bell, that was starting to make a little noise. It was the first cover of a song I picked up at the Tokyo Music Festival, “Daydreamer” by David Cassidy. Clive, however, set my mind at ease when he didn’t let the record get lost during the companies transition. It ultimately went on to become David’s biggest hit selling over 5 million units world wide!As he went on to create an Empire at Arista, his formula was simple…it all starts with the song. I remember my old friend Scott English telling me that it was Clive Davis who suggested that he change the title of his song, “Brandy” ( which had been the title of a recent US hit), to “Mandy”, which became Barry Manilow’s and Arista’s first multi million seller!

Soon the label’s artist roster included, Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, Monica, Exposé, Sarah McLachlan, Annie Lennox, saxophonist Kenny G, rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Sean “Diddy” Combs, Aretha Franklin, Toni Braxton, Air Supply, Ace of Base, TLC, Bay City Rollers, Nona Hendryx, and Patti Smith among others. It wasn’t long before he became CEO of the BMG music group in the U.S.

Clive Davis’ secret for finding winners is simple, “You look for stars. You look for the makeup of artists who can have long lasting careers and who could be headliners.”

He forgets to mention that it doesn’t hurt to have an incredible song sense and the power to promote the kind of music that you believe in…the kind of music that makes a difference all over the world!

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne


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2 Responses to “Brief Encounters With Clive Davis!”

  1. Steveo Says:

    Very informative stuff, Artie…thanks for the
    great backround on your experiences with these greats!

    Steveo

  2. darrell Says:

    That is very informative overview of Mr. Davis. Speaking of Janis Joplin. I saw an artist by the name of Kissimistry on the internet. That has a song by the name of ” Yo Mama” and she reminds me a little of Janis Joplin. You don’t find many artist these days that can remind you of someone that had such a strong presence in music as Janis. You can check her out at youtube. The song is after the first song, although she didn’t put the full song on there. It’s still cool.


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