Clive Jay Davis (born April 4, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American record producer and a leading music industry executive. From 1967-72 he was the President of Columbia Records, was the founder and president of Arista Records in the late 1970s through 2000 until founding J Records. From 2003 until April 2008, Davis was the Chairman and CEO of the RCA Music Group (which includes RCA Records, J Records and Arista Records), Chairman and CEO of J Records, and Chairman and CEO of BMG North America. Currently Davis is the Chief Creative Officer Sony BMG Worldwide. Davis is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer.
Davis became a protegé of CBS Records President Goddard Lieberson, and discovered a passion for music which led him up the ranks of Columbia/CBS. In 1967, he became president of Columbia Records and, more or less by accident, he became a convert to the newest generation of folk rock and rock and roll. One of his earliest pop signings was the British folk-rock musician Donovan, who enjoyed a string of successful hit singles and albums released in the USA on the Epic label.
In June 1967, at the urging of his friend and business associate Lou Adler, Davis attended the Monterey Pop Festival and was inspired by what he saw as the future of music. He immediately signed Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Columbia went on to sign Laura Nyro, Jimmie Spheeris, Electric Flag, Santana, The Chambers Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, Andy Pratt, Chicago, Billy Joel, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Pink Floyd. The company, which had previously avoided rock music, doubled its market share in three years. One of the biggest recordings released during Davis' tenure at Columbia was Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden", in late 1970. It was Clive Davis who insisted "Rose Garden" be the country singer's next single release. The song reached number one in sixteen countries around the world, won a slew of awards and made Lynn Anderson a household name. In 1972, Davis also signed the group Earth, Wind & Fire to Columbia Records. One of Davis' most recognized accomplishments was signing the Boston group Aerosmith to Columbia Records in the early 70s at New York City's Max's Kansas City, which was immortalized in the 1979 Aerosmith classic "No Surprize", where Steven Tyler sings "Old Clive Davis said he's surely gonna make you a star, just the way you are". In 1979, Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead changed the lyrics of the Dead standard Jack Straw in concert from "we used to play for silver, now we play for life", to "we used to play for silver now we play for Clive".
After being fired from CBS Records, Columbia Pictures hired Clive Davis to be a consultant for the company’s record and music operations. After taking time out to write his memoirs, he was offered the presidency of the division in late 1974. Davis subsequently merged the various labels -- Colpix Records, Colgems Records and Bell Records -- into a new entity named Arista Records, ultimately buying a percentage of the company from Columbia Pictures. The label was named Arista after New York City's secondary school honor society (of which Davis was a member).
This label has one of the most diverse lineups in the record industry. It has been home to Grammy Award winning pop megastar and the best-selling artist on label Whitney Houston, singer-songwriters Barry Manilow and Eric Carmen, Dionne Warwick, Monica, Gary Glitter, Exposé, Angie Aparo, 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, The Alpha Band, The Grateful Dead, The Kinks, TLC, Willie Nile, Bay City Rollers, Nona Hendryx, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, and Babylon A.D. among others. In the 1970s, Arista also had an extensive jazz line, most notably its Freedom imprint, concentrating on contemporary, sometimes avant-garde, musicians and widely praised reissues from the legendary Savoy label.
Clive Davis was featured in the February 21, 2008 (1046) issue of Rolling Stone. The article titled "The Last Record Man" discusses how Davis has helped guide the careers of hit artists and how even four decades later he still looks for the next hit.
In a reshuffling of the executive ranks at Sony BMG, it was announced on April 18, 2008 that Davis was appointed chief creative officer at Sony BMG. Zomba Music Group head Barry Weiss replaced Davis as chairman and CEO of the BMG label group.
He has been at the forefront of American Idol, as it is his company that signs the American Idol winners and runners-up. He has appeared as a guest judge in every season and has chosen songs for the finalists to sing during the last weeks of competition. Davis usually announces the successes of past American Idol contestants on each season finale. Davis was recently featured in the seventh season of American Idol.
In December 2006 it was announced by The X Factor judge Simon Cowell that Davis had agreed to join in on making the latest X Factor winner Leona Lewis a star. In February 2007, Davis signed Lewis up for a $9.7 million five-album record deal. He is executive producer of her debut album, Spirit.
Clive Davis has won three Grammy Awards. At the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in 2000 he won Best Rock Album and Album of the Year for producing Carlos Santana's Supernatural. In addition that year he received the 2000 Trustees Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. At the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in 2006 he won Best Pop Vocal Album for producing Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway.
CLIVE DAVIS, NYU ALUMNUS AND LEGENDARY MUSIC EXECUTIVE, GIVES $5 MILLION MORE TO THE TISCH SCHOOL OF THE ARTS.
May 24, 2011; NEW YORK -- The following information was released by New York University: Funds Provide for Creation of Clive Davis Institute...