Five times Clive Davis has changed the course of music


If it wasn’t for Clive Davis, you might never have heard of Bruce Springsteen.

The singer was still a rookie while he was in Davis’s office in 1972 and played his heart out.

“This was the greatest days of my life,” Springsteen recalled later.

Davis signed him on the spot, take a boat, that this raw, untested talent could become a household name.

Seven years, and a lot of hard work later, Springsteen sold out Madison Square Garden.

For most of us, the discovery of a superstar would be enough, but over the past four decades, Davis has directed the likes of Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Barry Manilow and Alicia Keys to the top 40.

But his biggest artist has always been Whitney Houston. Davis has discovered in his teenage years, taking care of his talents, and shape the sound in one of the best-selling artists of all time.

He has maintained a strong hand in her career, staging an intervention when the drugs took over his life, and said his death, in 2012, still feels “surprising and unexpected”.


Now, at age 85 years, Davis is the chief creative officer of Sony Music, and revered as one of the gifts of the music industry.

And its history is explored in a new documentary, the soundtrack of Our Lives, which premiered this week on Apple’s Music.

“I think the film captures the fact that I got into the business by accident,” he told the BBC. “I never expected. And when I arrived, I discovered a natural gift that I never knew I had.

“I don’t read music, but [I still get] that visceral feeling when I am in search of the next big star, or the next hit song.”

Along the way, his gut guided him to surprising, often difficult, decisions. Many of them have changed the course of pop music. Here are five examples.

1) He stopped Prince free the world from the most boring of the album

2) It was sent back to Bruce Springsteen’s first album