NEW YORK — Music mogul Clive Davis may be a New Yorker through-and-through, but the proud Brooklyn native certainly harbors a number of great memories involving Chicago over the course of his amazing six-decade career.
“Of course, I think blues and jazz, but right off the top of my head, naturally, I think of the many times I came to Chicago to see my artists perform there. Barry Manilow was a huge hit, from the very start — from the ‘Mandy’ days — and he still considers Chicago one of his favorite places to perform. He’s still headlining — not only in Chicago, but everywhere!
“The same is true of Earth Wind & Fire and Carlos Santana,” added Davis, referring to only a couple of the singers or groups he helped launch, relaunch or re-invent for a new generation of fans.
That includes the group Chicago, Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel and Jennifer Hudson.
“Speaking of Jennifer, we are in the studio right now, working on her new album,” said Davis, beaming like a proud parent. “It will be out next year, and I predict it will be her best one yet. She’s a true Chicago person and loves living there. I think the city gives her a great deal of grounding. Plus she has one fabulous voice — one of the greatest ones I’ve known,” said the man who has known all of the great voices of the past 60 years.
We had sat downin Davis’ Manhattan office at Sony Music Entertainment, where he serves as chief creative officer, to discuss “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives,” a fascinating new documentary about Davis’ life based on his 2013 memoir. It’s being released Tuesday on Apple Music, following screenings at several film festivals and one last week at Chicago’s ArcLight Cinema.)
Davis was pleased the filmmakers “showed the high points and the low points. They had to do that, just as I did in my original book.” Those low points, which Davis stressed “were far fewer than those experienced by many other people,” included his being fired by Columbia Records and the death of Whitney Houston, whom he thought of as a daughter as well as an artist.
“I’ve now seen the film a few times. I’m very emotional about it, because I find it very touching — especially since they got so many of the great artists, the record executives and even my competitors to spend time filming pieces for the documentary. I still can’t believe the great memories so many of them have about our working together — or, for the competitors, the nice and often humorous things they had to say about me,” said Davis with a big grin.