The man behind signing decades of greats like Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Aerosmith and Whitney Houston, legendary music mogul Clive Davis is officially coming out as bisexual in his new memoir “The Soundtrack of My Life” in stores today, February 19th.
As part of the promotion of his book, Sony’s chief creative officer (formerly CEO of various labels such as Arista and RCA) will appear on Katie Couric’s daytime talk show today. In both the book and on Couric’s program, Clive Davis discusses his failed marriages, one that fell apart in the 80’s. After the failed marriage, Davis says “I opened myself up to the possibility that I could have a relationship with a man as well as the two that I had with a woman.” “For me, it’s the person,” he says.
Clive Davis’ big career break happened when he was appointed the President of Columbia Records Group in 1967. While the label had previously not been highly involved with rock acts, Davis saw special talent in those of Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, Santana, Chicago and Billy Joel. He would also sign Aerosmith. It would be the beginning of a new era for music as Columbia Records doubled its market shares in just three years.
It didn’t stop there. After being fired from Columbia, Clive Davis founded Arista Records where he would go on to sign Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Air Supply and brought over Carly Simon and The Grateful Dead. LaFace Records was also cofounded with L.A. Reid (currently seen as a judge on The X-Factor and is responsible for P!nk) and BabyFace. Toni Braxton, Usher, TLC and many others would find a home on LaFace Records.
Davis’ largest accomplishment was when he discovered the late Whitney Houston in a nightclub. He would go on to sign her to Arista and become her mentor. Houston became one of those most successful female singers of all time.
In 2000, Clive left Arista to form J Records under the music giant BMG and later became President and CEO of one of today’s largest labels, the RCA Music Group. BMG and Sony Music Entertainment merged to become Sony BMG. Davis would remain the head of RCA until 2008 following poor financial decisions.
While Davis’ career is filled with great artists, there have been several acts that have clashed with the music mogul. Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates is quoted saying “I signed with the ultimate dictator Clive Davis and it wasn’t my idea to sign with him -- and I had fights with him and I walked away from him.” Speaking of Davis’ battle with 3 time Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson, Hall said “I’ve been there. And that is the same spat you always have with Clive Davis. He wants you to do something, and if you don’t want to do it, it’s either his way or the highway, really. And I took the highway.” The clash would be the downfall of Hall and Oates, who were released.
In recent pop history, inaugural American Idol and 3 time Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson battled Davis over the direction of her infamous 3rd record “My December” released June 26th, 2007. The album, written by Clarkson and her backing band, was shelved for 4 months while Davis tried every trick in the book to get Clarkson to change or replace 5 songs, including offering her $10 million dollars. After working herself thin for 2 years promoting her Grammy winning album “Breakaway” (which Davis won a Grammy for as well as he’s listed as Executive Producer), Clarkson was wearing thin and vented her deepest feelings in a set of songs that Clive spoke of as being unsellable. The two eventually agreed to make a more pop record the next time around (her contract in total consists of 6 studio albums).
Due to the controversy, Clarkson’s “My December” would became a platinum selling album with little promotion and the single “Never Again,” which also went platinum, was pulled from Clear Channel radio stations more or less to prove the power he had. Soon after, in 2008, Davis was removed as CEO of the RCA Music Group for poor financial decisions and became Sony’s world chief creative director, a position that was created for Davis to remain a voice in the industry.