The terms legend, icon, pioneer, genius, and entrepreneur can all be used to describe the Grammy Museum's very special guest on Dec. 5, which happened to be the 9th anniversary of the museum's opening. It was none other than Clive Davis, the man himself who the Grammy Museum's Theater's namesake comes from. There really is no one in the entire music industry still living that is more important than this music industry veteran. At 85 Davis is as busy as ever and still hosts his annual Grammy pre-party which brings in all the big names in music and once in a lifetime performances year after year. This historic event was broken up into 3 parts which started with a Q&A with Grammy Museum Executive Director Scott Goldman followed by a screening of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives and lastly a 2nd Q&A with Goldman along with film director Chris Perkel who directed Davis’s documentary.
Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives is THE documentary of the year to see. It takes the viewer through Davis’s career spanning over 6 decades starting as an attorney and breaking into the record industry as president of Columbia Records under CBS which lasted from 1967 to 1973. The first artist Davis signed was none other than Janis Joplin whom his friend Lou Adler took him to see at the Monterey Pop festival. Davis continued signing artists to CBS such as Santana, Chicago, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Earth Wind, and Fire, Blood Sweat & Tears, and Loggins & Messina. Davis’s career at Columbia records ended with being fired from the label after faulty accusations. Just two years later Davis became the founder and president of Arista where he signed Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, Carly Simon, the Grateful Dead, and the Kinks, In addition to Arista, Davis also LaFace Records with Babyface and L.A. Reid which was the label for TLC, Usher, Outkast, P!nk, and Toni Braxton. Along with Sean P. Diddy Combs, Davis formed Bad Boy Records which was the home to Notorious B.I.G., Combs, and Faith Evans. Davis also started Arista Nashville whose artists included Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, and Brad Paisley.
One key part of the movie was no matter how big or small an artist was Davis was there 100% to help them and in Manilow and Houston’s case he guided their careers from the start and made them worldwide superstars and multi-million album sellers. After parting ways from Arista Davis started another label known as J records which was bought out by BMG and from there Davis became the chairman/ CEO of RCA Music Group and moved up to chairman/CEO of BMG. The movie featured dozens of interviews with some of the biggest names in music including Berry Gordy, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, David Foster, Carlos Santana, Rod Stewart, Bob Weir, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, David Geffen and many more.
After the movie, Davis and Perkel were interviewed by Goldman to discuss the making of the film and to talk about Davis’s incredible career in the record industry.