Clive Davis is a record producer and music industry executive. He has won five Grammy Awards and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer.
Davis was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 4, 1932. Davis practiced law in a small firm in New York, then moved on to the firm of Rosenman, Colin, Kaye, Petschek, and Freund two years later, where partner Ralph Colin had CBS as a client. Davis was subsequently hired by a former colleague at the firm, Harvey Schein, to became assistant counsel of CBS subsidiary Columbia Records at age 28, and then general counsel the following year As part of a reorganization of Columbia Records Group, group president Goddard Lieberson appointed Davis as administrative vice president and general manager in 1965. In 1966, CBS formed the Columbia-CBS Group which reorganized CBS's recorded music operations into CBS Records with Davis heading the new unit .The next year, Davis was appointed president and became interested in 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 U.S. on the Epic Records label. In June 1967, at the urging of his friend and business associate Lou Adler, Davis attended the Monterey Pop Festival. He immediately signed Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Columbia went on to sign Laura Nyro, Electric Flag, Santana, The Chambers Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, Chicago, Billy Joel, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Loggins & Messina, and Pink Floyd. The company, which had previously avoided rock music (its few rock acts prior to the Davis presidency included Dion DiMucci, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, and Paul Revere and the Raiders), doubled its market share in three years. In 1972, Davis signed Earth, Wind & Fire to Columbia Records. One of his most recognized accomplishments was signing the Boston group Aerosmith to Columbia Records in the early 1970s at New York City's Max's Kansas City, which was mentioned in the 1979 Aerosmith song "No Surprise", where Steven Tyler sings, "Old Clive Davis said he's surely gonna make you a star, just the way you are.” Columbia Pictures (at the time unrelated to Columbia Records) hired him to be a consultant for the company's record and music operations. After taking time out to write his memoirs, he founded the company Arista Records (named after New York City's secondary school honor society of which he was a member, and it replaced Columbia Pictures' Bell Records label). At Arista, Davis signed Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Patti Smith, Al Jourgensen, The Outlaws, Eric Carmen, Exposé, Ace of Base, Air Supply, Ray Parker, Jr. and Raydio, and Alicia Keys, and he brought to the label Carly Simon, The Grateful Dead, The Kinks, and Lou Reed. He founded Arista Nashville which became the home to Alan Jackson,Brooks & Dunn, Pam Tillis, and Brad Paisley. Davis founded LaFace Records with L.A. Reid and Babyface. LaFace subsequently became the home of TLC, Usher, Outkast,P!nk and Toni Braxton. He founded Bad Boy Records with Sean Combs and it became the home of the Notorious B.I.G., Puffy Combs, Mase, 112, and Faith Evans. In 1998 Davis signed LFO from European Success. LFO Charted #1 with Summer Girls in 1999. Going on to multiplatinum success.
Davis was made aware of Cissy Houston's daughter Whitney Houston after he saw the Houston’s perform at a New York City nightclub. Impressed with what he heard, Davis signed her to Arista Records. Houston became one of the biggest selling artists in music history under the guidance of Davis at Arista Records. Davis left Arista in 2000 and started J Records, an independent label with financial backing from Arista parent Bertelsmann Music Group. BMG would buy a majority stake in J Records in 2002, and Davis would become president and CEO of the larger RCA Music Group. In 2004, BMG merged with Sony Music Entertainment to form Sony BMG. With the assets of the former CBS Records (renamed Sony Music Entertainment in 1991) now under Sony's ownership, the joint venture would mean a return of sorts for Davis to his former employer. Davis remained with RCA Label Group until 2008, when he was named chief creative officer for Sony BMG. Currently Davis is the Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment . Davis has been married and divorced twice. He was married to Helen Cohen from 1956 to 1965 and to Janet Adelberg from 1965 to 1985. He has four children: Fred (born 1960), Lauren (born 1962), Mitchell (born 1970), and Doug Davis (born 1974), a prominent music executive and sports agent. He also has six grandchildren.
In 2013, Davis publicly came out as bisexual in his autobiography The Soundtrack of My Life. On the daytime talk show Katie, he told host Katie Couric that he hoped his coming out would lead to "greater understanding" of bisexuality. Since 2004, Davis has been in a relationship with a man, which followed a 14-year relationship with a male doctor.
LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have contributed significantly in several ways to the advancement of our community. Limited by the number of days on the calendar, showcasing every individual who has made a major impact would be difficult. Yet, across decades and eras, revolutions and wars, and discovery and enlightenment, SPART*A honors past and present LGBT figures in our history this month.