Monday, April 4, 2011

Artists Discovered by Clive Davis

Record executive Clive Davis was born on April 4, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York.  He graduated magna cum laude from New York University and received a scholarship to Harvard Law School.  Davis graduated from Harvard in 1956 and began his law career.

After a brief experience with a small law firm, things went south and Davis was laid off.  The firm of Rosenman, Colin, Kaye, Petschek and Freund hired him.  One of the major clients happened to be CBS, owner of Columbia Records.  Columbia offered Davis a spot in their legal department.  He was one of the people responsible for the renegotiation of Bob Dylan's contract.  Davis quickly discovered music would be his career path.

In 1967, Davis became President of CBS Records.  He discovered many great artists including Santana, Janis Joplin, Donovan, Bruce Springsteen, Chicago, Billy Joel, Aerosmith and Pink Floyd.  Davis was fired amidst investigations of financial wrongdoing but Columbia didn't want to release him completely.  So they made him head of the Columbia Pictures division, which Davis soon named Arista Records.  There, Davis continued his knack of spotting top talent, signing Barry Manilow, Whitney Houston, Air Supply, Taylor Dayne, Expose and Annie Lennox and encouraging Aretha Franklin to switch to Arista.

These days, Davis is still going as a record exec as the head of J Records.  One of the artists he helped break was Alicia Keys.

In a career now spanning four decades, Davis has proven to be one of the invaluable people behind the scenes in rock music, whose eye for talent and ability to successfully promote those artists has given millions of people the enjoyment of great music.  He regards his attendance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival as a turning point in his life.  See this blog for an article on the Festival.  For his great work, Davis was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

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