You might’ve heard Clive Davis called the man with the golden ears. As one of the most influential record executives of the 20th century, he mentored some of the biggest musical stars the world has ever seen.
This famous entrepreneur guided numerous musicians to stardom over the last 50 years. Without him, we may never have heard certain voices so prominent in the music world.
Join us as we dive into the background of this well-known producer.
Let’s hit it!
The Story of Clive Davis
Clive Davis can be considered a thorough New Yorker. Born in 1932 in New York City, he’s remained there throughout his life. Davis graduated from law school at NYU and began his law career in the city.
When Davis’ firm took CBS on as a client, he became the general counsel for the company’s subsidiary Colombia Records. No one could have guessed how his career would unfold. In 1966, he began serving as president of CBS Records.
Davis quickly began signing artists to CBS Records, including Donovan, who had a string of successful albums, and the legendary singer Janis Joplin. He’s also responsible for getting artists like Billy Joel, Chicago, and Bruce Springsteen to sign with Colombia Records.
After leaving Colombia Records in 1973, he wrote a national best-selling book called Clive: Inside the Record Business. Then Davis founded a new record label, Artista, that saw immediate success. The albums released under Artista experienced quick success. Artists like Barry Manilow and Whitney Houston are great examples of what Davis’ label produced.
Throughout the years, Clive Davis continued to be at the forefront of the record industry. He also boosted the careers of artists like Outkast, Sarah McLachlan, and Alicia Keys. Davis probably had a hand in producing the most popular music you’ve heard in the last forty years. In addition, Davis has earned five Grammy Awards during his career.
Which Great Artists Did Clive Davis Mentor?
The man with the golden ears helped numerous famous musicians on their path to stardom. We put together a few of our favorite stars that Davis took under his wing.
No one commands respect like Aretha Franklin, in no small part due to her partnership with Clive Davis. So when she left her contract with Atlantic Records in the late 1970s, she called Artista Records.
Davis is listed as the executive producer of many of her most successful albums. He’s also responsible for the duet George Michael sang with Aretha Franklin, I Knew You Were Waiting. The single quickly reached the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.
Davis discovered 19-year-old Whitney Houston singing at a nightclub. He signed her to Artista Records immediately, and the pair got to work on her debut album. Houston went on to become one of the best-selling artists of all time, with over 200 million records sold around the world.
The pair saw tremendous professional success together and also grew close as friends. In addition, Davis was instrumental in creating her 2022 biopic film, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. He feels his friend deserves to be recognized as the legend she truly was.
Bruce Springsteen auditioned for the man with the golden ears in 1972. In recent interviews, Davis admitted that he thought Springsteen’s performance fell flat. However, he saw tremendous potential in the young rocker and signed him to Colombia Records.
Springsteen listened carefully to the performance advice passed on by the record executive. Before too long, this musician became well-known for his energetic and exciting stage persona. At Davis’ recent 90th birthday party, Springsteen performed Blinded By The Light.
Clive Davis’s Humanitarian Efforts
Davis has had tremendous success throughout his career, enabling him to give back to society. In 2002, his five million dollar gift helped NYU open the Department of Recorded Music. This program is the first of its kind to offer four-year degrees and guidance to producers.
He’s also been instrumental in the fight against HIV and AIDS since 1985. In fact, he recruited musicians signed to Artista to organize a benefit concert in 1990. It raised over two million dollars for AIDS research.
In addition, Davis has twice been named Humanitarian of the Year by the T.J. Martell Foundation for his contributions to cancer research.
Is Clive Davis in the Hall of Fame?
Davis is no stranger to awards. He’s won eight Grammy Awards, with the first awarded to him in 1976. And in 1997, he earned a star on the Walk of Fame for his efforts in the recording industry.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that Clive Davis is also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Patti Smith inducted this legendary record executive in 2000 alongside musicians like Eric Clapton and Nat “King” Cole.
What Is Clive Davis Doing Now?
This 90-year-old legend still holds a position at Sony Music as their chief creative officer. Davis continues to work long days to keep up with current music trends. He finds it important to remain knowledgeable about today’s hit makers. Currently, his favorite artists are Beyoncé and Harry Styles.
Davis also has four children that he enjoys spending time with. His son Doug followed in his dad’s footsteps by becoming a Grammy-winning record producer. Speaking of the Grammys, the man with the golden ears continues to throw an infamous pre-show party every year attended by top stars.
A Legendary Star Maker
Clive Davis is a giant in the music industry. He’s been present behind the scenes on some of the greatest albums released over the last 60 years. Many people say that everything he touches turns platinum, and we couldn’t agree more. This legend even uses his resources to fund AIDS and cancer research. We could all learn a thing or two by studying this man.
Who’s your favorite musician that has Clive Davis to thank for stardom? Let us know in the comments!