Transcript:

Speaker So you had very interesting to get to the music. Can you tell us about.

Speaker My route to get to the music business was from law and I had no idea that I would be just living a life in the music industry. I came from really no money. And mainly through old school, had to achieve a certain average in order to keep my scholarships. And I went to a great law firm, to Harvard Law School. And by coincidence, this law firm represented CBS, a division of which was Columbia Records. And I was there just maybe two or three years when I was approached to become assistant general counsel of Columbia Records with the guarantee that in one year I would become general counsel for Columbia Records. So to me, I had no major clients. I knew nobody who really had money. And so the opportunity was very attractive to me.

Speaker Hold on one second, because I'm going to play it down again. So sorry, but it's back. I'm not going perfect, sir.

Speaker We'll wait for them for their size. So how did you go from being the assistant general counsel to the president?

Speaker I was the chief lawyer for about a five year period of time. I plunged into it doing nothing about music. So I really from the contractual stage to the we were defending a lawsuit where the Columbia Record Club was being accused by the FTC of being a monopoly. So I was interviewing Tearless and Brek job as an artist and managers. And I just fought really with the tremendous work ethic really be gotten from the public school system of New York, because the idea and the work ethic was established and I'm so grateful to the elementary and high school system would really form me like nothing else. And one day there was a meeting, that cowardly person who was the president of Columbia Records, and he asked me to come into his office and he said, you know, you've been working on acquisitions, you've been working on the grounds of that word synergy to buy effective musical instruments, defended Cantor. The Lesli speak of the Steinway piano. And he said, you know, I'm being elevated to a group chairman and I have to make division heads. And so he asked me, would you like to be head of the musical instrument group? And I was making twenty five thousand dollars at the time and he was offering a tripling of my salary to seventy five thousand dollars. And I said, well, I mean, that was quite attractive. Is there a catch anywhere? And he said, well, the only catch is that you'd have to move to California whether you lived in Santa Anna or whether you lived in Los Angeles. That's in effect, where the main headquarters for Fender was on the West Coast. And that would be a problem for me. But I said, look, I've got to wait. This can I have overnight to weigh all of the factors?

Speaker I went home, I wrestled with it, and I was prepared to turn it down because my children, my two children at the time were in effect, really strike that.

Speaker I was prepared to turn it down because I had two children and it was very difficult, although I had custody of them. It would become very difficult to share them with my ex-wife. And so I came into the office the next morning and there was a buzzer. As soon as I arrived, Mr. Lieberson would like to see you. And so I walked into his office and he said, CLO, I've got to tell you that Norman Adler, the executive vice president at the time of Columbia. He said he really wants to move to the West Coast and he really would like the musical instrument division grew along with creative play things as part of that group. So I'm going to make you head of Columbia Records instead. And, you know, I was not pleased. I was thrilled. It's not that I knew of this band.

Speaker I didn't know how I would survive in the musical wars, that jungle warfare, that competitive jungle warfare that exists at among record companies. But I was thrilled because that's what I had been working for as an attorney. And I felt I knew more of the business. Never knew I had ears. Never knew that I could hear a hit record. Never knew that I could discover an orders. But this is one of the lucky breaks that occur in life. You've got to be ready for the breaks that occur in life. It turns out to be lucky if you're ready for it.

Speaker So I said yes. Well, that was in 1965.

Speaker How would you describe the record company? How would you describe Columbia Records?

Speaker Columbia Records at that time in 1965 was preeminent in the worlds of classical music. They had the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra. That meant Eugene Ormandy, Leonard Bernstein and George Howell. They had Vladimir Horovitz and Isaac Stern and Glenn Gould of major classical orders. They were pre-eminent in the world of Broadway because Goddard Lieberson was pre-eminent in both the worlds of classical music and on Broadway. So they had My Fair Lady in South Pacific and West Side Story sound to music strike that they had. I don't think that South Pacific, they they had My Fair Lady and on West Side Story, Sound of Music. So they were preeminent to Broadway. And from that pre-eminence, they signed a young female artist a few years before they Barbra Streisand, who came out of the show, I can get it for you wholesale. And they had a very strong middle of the road roster of orders, which consisted of Tony Bennett and Mitch Miller, the single Long, who was a pre-eminent and all person working for Columbia. But he became a household name and figure will sing along with Mitch. And they had Andy Williams in the rock area. They there was a duo who was about to break but had not broken at that time named Simon and Garfunkel. They had Bob Dylan, who was far more important as a writer at that time rather than as an artist. So his songs were being covered by The Byrds and of Peter, Paul and Mary, so that he was a very influential songwriter, but not yet the poet laureate. He and Bruce Springsteen, I considered the poet laureate of music over the years. But they were not that strong at rock rock'n'roll. They had a few what we call at that time, rock and roll artists, and they were about in third place. There was RCA and Capitol who were number one. And number two, they were about in third place, a major and important company with a major history. But as contemporary music was changing, they were a little slow in getting into what was going to happen in rock.

Speaker Years later, and Clive Davis made a huge difference. You to just as I understand it, you went to the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Speaker So what did I do when I first took over? I watched I listen. You don't become an instant expert. So often people get a title and they feel they've got to act on it. I did not feel I had to act on it. This was a successful company, certainly first in its field in many areas of music. But I knew music was changing and I learned a very good lesson that if you grew up with Andre, Costel on it and Percy Faith and Tony Bennett and Andy Williams, it doesn't mean that you are going to understand what was going to happen in Rock Kardos in years and years in the future in urban or hip hop music. I was listening to what we call the top 40 stations at the time, WMC, a debut ABC. But if you grew up in popular music and good, easy listening, what they call music, you don't listen to top 40. You're specializing. And so I knew music was changing. I knew the Columbia had to change as well. They had to continue to grow. With due respect to what they were strong in. But they clearly had to make a move in contemporary music. I didn't know where it would come from.

Speaker And slowly after a year, I made my first deal. And that was a label deal. It was called Old Records. And the main person behind old records was a man named Lou Adler, who was a very successful, bright, shrewd. I always met the how would you use the reclusive, mysterious, very influence what he had done. Johnny Rivers, he had done the mamas and poppers, and he was both the song Man and a wonderful producer. And so we made a deal and I had a record. The first record that came out was by his daughters called Scott Mackenzie. And it's not that he's known today, but he sang a song that became a classic of its time.

Speaker And that was, if you're going to San Francisco, be sure to where flowers in your hair. And that record exploded and was on its way to number one. When Lou called me and he said, you know, there's going to be a festival in Monterrey and it's called the Monterey Pop Festival. And I'm on the board and your friend Dave Summers on the board. And I think it would be great if we hung out. You come for a weekend, you'll certainly enjoy it. Are going to be major orders. You've got some added golf uncle. And I think the Byrds were coming and we'll have a great time. I had no idea they'd be new waters showcased. I only knew that there was going to be the first pop festival. So I went and I went with my normal New York clothes.

Speaker I remember I wore this tennis sweater over white slacks and I went first half to new to the concert and they said they'd be showcasing some brand new artists. And I was just shook in every way because it was not just a music revolution that was taking place, but there was a social revolution.

Speaker This was Haight Ashbury in its purest form. This was long hair and long flowing dresses and a community spirit and a belief and just the individual, but also the communal spirit and community in which that individual was to live. So it was idealism in its purest form and it was life altering. I had never realized what was going on in Haight Ashbury being in the New York City vertical urban jungle. I love New York and I use the word jungle. I don't mean I meant melting pot. I didn't mean it in a negative or pejorative light. But I was unprepared for the flowers in your hair. Literally what Scott McKenzie was singing about.

Speaker And I've listened to music, the electrification of the guitar, all those amplifiers. It was so different. And one group. A group called The Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield on guitar and Buddy Miles on drums. I mean, it really raised the hair on your arms and sent those proverbial tingles up your spine. And then this group came on stage called Big Brother and the holding company. And its lead singer was Janis Joplin. And I'd never heard of her. I never heard of the group. They come out on stage.

Speaker And she was Riverdale. She was hypnotic. She was electrifying. She was a white, young soul singer, the likes of which I don't think anybody had ever seen before. And, you know, not wanting to sound cliched like. But there are epiphanies that could happen in life that change you. And this was an epiphany for me because I was aware that life was changing. I was aware that socially, musically, I was perhaps. Unsuspectingly witnessing and a part of a revolution to be. And I knew for myself that my moment had come and that I had to not defer. No longer watch or just listen. That I had to make a move on my own. And so I did. I met with Chernus and the group. They were under contract to a small company called Mainstream Records, but they had not come out with any views. We connected. I met as well with the electric flag. We connected and quietly after that weekend.

Speaker I sighed and made every effort to end up signing and buying the contract of Big Brother and the holding company for the sum of two hundred thousand dollars hundred. I was put all of. Two hundred was going to be advanced by Columbia. Half of which the company would bear, half of which would be an advance against ultimate royalties. If the group were successful and I signed the electric flag and then I was back just really a month or two months in New York, what I was going down to the village gate.

Speaker With this audition was being was taking place, this club in New York historically known for jazz. And I see this group that I was prepared for because of my stay at Monterrey. There were horns in this group and there was tremendous musicality. Some of the members came from form a group called the Blues Project. Well, this was the birth of blood, sweat and tears. And so I signed blood, sweat and tears. And I then was on that mission. And I know that from a creative point of view, from a marketing point of view, from a hiring of new executives point of view, that I pointed myself betting that a rock revolution was taking place and that I really being the only head of a company, I think at Monterrey was in on it. So very quietly, I signed a number of Rugg excuse me.

Speaker I signed the number of rock artists and waited about nine months to a year to release any album simultaneously.

Speaker And we came and they all, one after another started creating that stir. The word underground was applicable to that era where the word of mouth through underground, there was the nascent beginnings of F.M. radio that played Baroque and got its audience. And so in short order, whether it was Big Brother and the holding company, but it was the electric flag or blood, sweat and tears and ultimately Santana and Chicago. When I went to San Francisco, met with Bill Graham and Brian Rahab and saw this group, Santana began my lifelong relationship with Carlos Santana and the group really the old stored young group that he had at the time, which led to OIA come of black magic woman and evil ways.

Speaker And so this was a golden period like shock that each and every one of them became successful, gave me the confidence to say, you know, I might have an undiscovered talent of years of identifying original talent. And it just really went octopods, gags.

Speaker And I put together Luskin's and was seen with Johnny Winter and Edgar Winter and put, you know, Earth, Wind and Fire, which then moved in the urban area. So this was a golden era. It was a golden era for the music industry. It was certainly a golden era for me.

Speaker And that's why. So what was David doing at that time?

Speaker I know what David Keppen at the time was an agent and he represented an artist who did perform at the Monterey Pop Festival. Not that distinguished, Lee, but it struck home to me that although this at that time would not be her best performance, that as a writer and as a singer songwriter, she was unique and very, very special. So when David Geffen called me and we met, it was about Lord Nero and I was very receptive to his plan of getting Laura Nero off her record company. I think it was Verve Records, and I was very interested in establishing a new creative home for Laura Nyro. And so we made our first arrangement and did our first deal. And I got to meet. I know David Geffen well well here.

Speaker So what was your first impression?

Speaker My first impression was very favorable that this was someone who was instantly candid. You felt that you knew each other. He has an incredible gift of being both candid and personal, revealing. So that you really feel that you knew that person a long time. Sometimes that happens after a plane trip. We. Talking to somebody those years that I used to talk to people next to me. Oh, no, I've read or do work. But there were times that you do meet an individual where, notwithstanding the brevity of time and the lack of history that you feel. But, you know, David has that uncanny ability to create that intimacy within the first hour if he likes you or feels that a connection is is appropriate. So by we bonded.

Speaker Can you describe for us his relationship to the years that we worked together on Vaughn Nero? His interest in her his belief in her was so passionate, was so intense that it's like when you speak to somebody, you say, well, you can speak to the person because their alter egos have each other.

Speaker They were not musical alter egos of each other in any way. And it wasn't that law was not distinctive in her own right. But David knew Laura Nyro. David could speak for Laura Nyro Deep Felt Laura Nyro. In speaking to David, you knew that you were dealing with someone who couldn't speak for Bordonaro, had with a passion and believe that was quite special.

Speaker She was kind of an author. Yeah. Let's talk about why she was on alert and what her talents were I just described.

Speaker Lord Laura Nyro was an odd bird. But when you were an artist and adored, Burton adds to your mystique. So she wore wool dresses and she loved to fish and she had a very single likes and dislikes. And she spoke in a very soft, breathy way. So it was part of Laura's mystique. It wasn't Faye, that is who she was. And she was a very ethereal, wonderful spirit.

Speaker Her first audition, David, proffered audition, which you remember that you'll have to refresh the label.

Speaker And she ended up doing the audition, by the way.

Speaker I forgot to go. But I would say that I had seen her a murderer. But David knew that I had not seen the totality of who Laura Nyro was, what she represents and what she could be. So he arranged for a lawyer to audition for me with very specific lighting and very specific terms that were unique to law. It wasn't unique to David. He was passing along what was important to law.

Speaker Well, you know, I'm going to ask you to go back home and sort of a musical journey that's moderate.

Speaker And we've seen the footage of this, you know, booze and whatever. But why is there this?

Speaker I know it was it was spectacular because she was the best one on that stage, just a pool of light on her. And that's that's not what she did. Why did performance.

Speaker Laura was under contract to Verve Records. I was not aware of Laura.

Speaker You don't, Paul, when you were relatively unknown. When you are unknown. You just not noticed. So to speak.

Speaker So that when people say that she bombed there, I remember she did not emerge there. I remember that she did not as an observer. She did not stand out for one reason as to why Monori became important, or one, the young artist that did explode out of Monterrey's. So I think it's a little severe to say that she bombed because bomb means that people knew who she was and she didn't measure up to their expectations for me, not ever really knowing who she was. There was no bomb. My teachers tend to merge so that when I was approached, would I take an open mind towards law near or not withstanding moderate? Yes, of course. I mean, I really did have a feeling one way or the other, as I describe my feelings about Big Brother and the holding company of Janis Joplin and the electric flag, among others.

Speaker Now, the first recording was done for you. And that was quite an interesting experience. I understand the recording of that record. She had a lot of demands. It went over budget and you stop what you did with it. David, convincing you to let her do what she wanted to do. You talk about that. I mean, how David fought for it. The artistic is the story of.

Speaker When David had an ad in autist over the years, but starting with Vaughn Nero, I mean, his passion was singular.

Speaker His belief was intense. So that there's no question that.

Speaker If Laura was going over budget, David would justify it. And in that case, ask for continuing showing a belief and support so that it was persuasive and whatever the decision was, it was to do continue the support of law. But we're still talking about an unknown artist. We're still talking about someone who had not broken through at the time. So, yes, within reason, there's no doubt that the belief was there and that she was special.

Speaker And that stayed with me always because David's passion and my ears told me that there was a very special artist here.

Speaker So you just gave me just skyrocket your career. How would you describe how he made her?

Speaker He facilitated all of her quirks and all of her dress. She said all of her wishes being fulfilled. But you must also understand that Vaughan never, never sought as an order. She became an important orders. But it wasn't that she sought to become a boulter platinum artist. She was more influential as a songwriter. And so that her songs, whether by the Fifth Dimension or other artists, were being recorded and they were becoming hits so that there was no question that her talent expectation was being fulfilled one way or another. And if she was not emerging in a mainstream way, she was emerging with a cult and with a following. That absolutely was intense as well. So you had the combination of an artist that was exploding out of the gate as an artist, but clearly was being evaluated as somewhat very unique, very special, very influential pop with the gift of being able to write hit songs. And so that was the special gift that it wasn't that believe in the soloist, although nothing is happening. There was a lot that was happening. She was writing hit songs, and even if other artists were popularizing, it was not that much different. From the beginning of Bob Dylan, where he was writing Blowin in the Wind and he was writing songs that whether it be The Byrds or whether it be Peter, Paul and Mary. They were happening and creating an influence and awareness of him. And similarly, Laura Nyro was definitely having that special glow around her.

Speaker And she was emerging as a personality as well.

Speaker Spreading that were she could have had no better, no better proponent, believe her manager, spokesman David Keffer, because with an energy level and with a passion and believe that there was no one like her, he threw his whole being into it.

Speaker He lived aid and breathed it with an intensity probably that I had never seen before in any marriage.

Speaker Now you are street fans. You were his mentor the first.

Speaker He admired greatly.

Speaker And getting to something when the association wanted to do two of her songs and he said, Clark, Clark gets to pick single whatever he wants, he gets to first.

Speaker But before we get to that's familiar with that, you have to refresh my memory that the association wanted to record to remember the fifth dimension. Probably about one record, two of her songs.

Speaker And David said, no, Clark gets first pick, but the fifth dimension recorded for me.

Speaker It just means that he or no no with the fifth dimension and did not record for me a third time. Ultimately, surprisingly, they ended up recording for me.

Speaker But in that period, Peter recorded, first you get to pick the single. And I think you picked Eli. Eli's coming. And then they went on to record Stoned Soul Picnic. Something else later.

Speaker But let me say that what Bill Blues they recorded is that he wanted you to have the first thing we were getting at is your friendship. You were his mentor. He was admired. You were very good friends. Can you talk about that friendship?

Speaker David's love of music and passion for music was very contagious here. I was in another new world for me because we're talking now about really the period of the late 60s, early 70s around me. The discovery of the artists and the explosion of the new music that I've come across was certainly changing.

Speaker My life in every way grew. It was tough in that period because here you're in the midst of a company who had grown up in another world. So it's not that you had any compatriots. It's not that you had anybody at your shoulder that you could even share it with because it was paving new territory and you'd have to hire new people to understand that enthusiasm, understand the new music and the change that was taking place. And so in meeting David, he knew that the world was changing. He knew that music was changing. So the two of us really bonded and we became great friends. And it was a shared experience that our careers sort of took off. At the same time. And there was some of that understood, understood at each level what was happening and where it could go. And he came from the same poor roots as I did. He came from Brooklyn and he would tell me stories about his mother and how she worked for the two boys that were growing up. And I knew having both both my parents when I was a late teenager had no money on my own. I related to that experience that we were using this new world to lift each other. Not that we were doing it together, but that each of us was being lifted up by this new experience. This new music that I don't know if he prepared for it. I didn't know if he knew where his life would go. And but it was powerful to share experiences together with someone with that work ethic, with the same powerful where we came from and the same economic circumstances.

Speaker Thing about that, there is something in the water.

Speaker Maybe it's the water or the air, but there's something about Brooklyn.

Speaker Maybe it's in the water or maybe it's in the air.

Speaker What was your next musical business situation?

Speaker Eventually, after along the way, I benefited from tapirs believe. In me, my understanding abusing my leadership of the new Columbia record.

Speaker So if he ran across a group, I remember distinctly that it was from David that I learned that there was a group called the Chicago Transit Authority that was very, very talented, somewhat in the vein of blood, sweat and tears, but different with different kind of song writing. And so, of course, I audition the group. They were going to shorten the name subsequently to Chicago. But there's no question that the origin of by being aware of the group's Chicago really came from a tip from David. And I also remember that David and said Gallon were the first ones that put me in touch with Mac Davis, a very strong songwriter who would be emerging as a major television personality and pulled for me and said they arranged for me to audition Mac Davis. I remember vividly at the Beverly Hills Hotel and being so impressed with both his demeanor but also his song writing so that, yes, along the way, although Laura Nyro was the central figure of our business dealings, there were definite props that I want to head out and mention and include. So thank you. Thank you, David. For Chicago as well. To you, one sad day for Jack Davis. And then we did get in to what was quite unique at the time was the formation of the group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, because by that time, Tapert had established his own very strong relationship with Ahmet Ertegun and really was putting together the group for obit on the Atlantic. But he had to contend with the contractual rights that existed. David Crosby was a member of The Byrds and. Neil Young. I know Graham Nash, rather, was a member of.

Speaker So he had to contend with the previous. Sorry, Neil Young wasn't right.

Speaker So he had to contend with the fact that two of the artists of Crosby, Stills and Nash were David Crosby and Graham Nash. Graham Nash was a member of The Hollies and David Crosby was a member of The Bird. So how do you do this with the contractual rights so often socially?

Speaker Well, I would go out in the same way that young people, males that trade baseball cards or or grow up, you know, it was common to say, you know, it would be fun. Would you trade? And I was having hits with a young female artist at the time, Melissa Manchester. We had. Don't Cry Out Loud. Midnight Blue and a number of hits which showed that Melissa Manchester could be a combination songwriter performer in the vein of Barbra Streisand. Big voice, beautiful voice. Would you trade Melissa Manchester for Leo Sayer, who had one? I need you and big kids and someone coming from love. Did you? So the question is, if you had someone hypothetically, would you trade disorder's for the other autist at this stage to pass it on? It was a fun Dennet compensation thing. All of a sudden this became a reality. Who would I get for David Crosby and strike that?

Speaker So who would I get for David Crosby of The Byrds? A member of The Byrds. But not to leave in light of the Byrds. Roger and Bhagwan, formerly Jimbo Graham was the leading light of The Byrds and Graham Nash of The Hollies, an Englishman who was a member of this wonderful group called The Hollies coming out of the UK. And so I was offered Pocho.

Speaker Now, Pocho was a very strong young rock group that had very strong that would strike that a very strong young rock group that was emerging with and it looked like a long term future.

Speaker And I had, you know, sort of there's no question that Ahmed and I, I'm a nerd.

Speaker Again, my main competitor in this new world for me was Almagor Vertica.

Speaker It was a lot of mutual respect, but of it to really his English contacts, because I couldn't sign anybody from England. My universe was only America. But then Columbia Records and phone orders came from England. It was the purview of your English company. So Ahmed was getting big advantages when he was signing the cream, but he was signing Clapton and he was signing ultimately the Rolling Stones and Jagger. And I was dealing with the rock world in America so that we. We'd have different sides of competitors at the Publi Hills Hotel. And when his orders, Jagger or Clarkton would come to go back to die, everybody's eyes would turn here in this wonderful setting of Hollywood. What in previous years, there would be a known scored a goal for Howard Hughes or Elizabeth Taylor. You know, the glamorous ones. All of a sudden, we were changing the face in the late 60s, early 70s of this incredible, mysterious mystique setting where everybody, every phone call was announced over the loudspeaker. And I would be giving Sly the Family Stone or I'd be getting, you know, orders that I signed, whether be from Big Brother or or from Johnny Winter or an Edgar Winter or Bud Skaggs. And so here, yeah, we were friendly competitors with mutual respect. And for the first time, we had to get in the trading of a situation which I don't think has happened before or since. To my memory.

Speaker Let's go back the way the story goes. At first he went to he thought he was going to do this Columbia.

Speaker So he went to Jerry Wexler to try to get Steve Stills. Jerry Wexler, his office, the bottle.

Speaker You're refreshing my memory because that's important story. Well, go ahead. Tell me what you refresh my memory. But I can't make it last.

Speaker Why did the Crosby, Stills, Nash together? It's going to be OK.

Speaker We do that. Stephen Stills. OK. So he went to Jerry Wexler's office. And Jerry Lester said, you, me, third man in his office. And the next day I had heard about this.

Speaker And he called me nice because it was a very charming man. And they then bonded.

Speaker And that's what I think. What year was this? But let's go and get get cash out of their contacts at Columbia and we'll get Crosby, Stills and Nash here.

Speaker That's the story as I've read it, several.

Speaker What year was 68? She's my date, 68.

Speaker And that led to, as I understand, a lifelong animosity between David Kittiwakes weeks later. But do you know that story?

Speaker I read the story. I did not know it first hand, but it all is making sense and holds up under the seat.

Speaker Tell me that story about Jerry Wexler.

Speaker No, but I mean, there's no doubt that that is what forged what was to become of incredibly close relationship between Ahmet Ertegun and David Geffen. There was a history of some antagonism between David and Jerry. So it had to start from somewhere. So this, you know, triggers by memory. You're going back 40 years. But it does trigger my memory is holding up under scrutiny.

Speaker And with this, I viewed this because I wondered I reflected about this over the years.

Speaker I was to get an award from the DOWER'S in New York and I would introduce me and he told some stories about himself and myself, one of which was this.

Speaker And there's no doubt when I think back under the light of the cameras for this interview, when I think back, there's no doubt that I got the better of the deal. There's no doubt that David played a role at that with our friendship, with our our relationship that had been established at that time, that I was sympathetic to returning favors to David, but he had extended to me.

Speaker And when I think back that 1968 was the first year of release of Big Brother, the whole thing company, the electric flag, so that it wasn't that I was in the business 10 years or fifteen years or even five years, it was very early in my career and that trade.

Speaker Made sense. Probably as best explained or advocated by date. But it turned out that we both benefited because from Pocho came one of its members who came to me and said after one album that went cold between gold and platinum, and he said, you know, I don't want to really be an artist anymore.

Speaker I really have been so affected by our relationship that I really want to come to work with you in a in awe. And I would like to be one of your producers, one of your and our men. And I said, well, how could I afford to? You're a member of this big group. And to be any and all meant to be an artist is one thing. But you could discover artist is a total other thing. And so he wrote up his budget. And I remember so distinctly that he submitted to me a three page budget as to how I could afford him, what he would be willing to take, what his expenses would be.

Speaker And at the time I was signing a singer songwriter that would have been perfect for him. And so I made the deal. And this member, Pocho, came to work for me and Eleanor and I put him in the studio with this new singer songwriter that I signed.

Speaker And after six months, he came to me and he said, you know, I believe so much in the songwriting of this artist that you signed that I started embellishing and writing with him and working with him in the recording process. And now we are going to be an artist. Together, I'll continue to work for you. But I've got to be an artist. And that was the formation of Plotkin's Embassy. So the artist had I just told you about was Kenny Loggins and the number of poker with Jim Masina and Loggins and was saying that became an incredibly big selling platinum to multi platinum Morris. So I did benefit from it. And yes, Crosby, Stills and Nash for not to become Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and a wonderful artist. But at the same time we did get Lukken simazine as well as some pocho albums that were quite beneficial.

Speaker So.

Speaker At one point.

Speaker David, what is this? This is why you chose not to.

Speaker Well, we're now talking, I think, in the early 70s and we're talking of David and I were out to dinner one night and he said, you know, I really want to get into the record business. And I would love to do it with you. I want to form a new record company and I will put into this company.

Speaker All of my management interests and by interest to music publishing, because he owned a piece of various orders. I think it was Joni Mitchell.

Speaker I think it was Laura Nyro and others.

Speaker And he says, you know, you're a salaried employee. Yes. You're become Clive Davis. You've signed many orders to your president of Columbia Records, but you're a salaried employee with a limitation of how much money that you could earn.

Speaker And so here will be partners. And in return, since your proven ability to run a successful record company and almost grow it from scratch. Although Columbia Records was a major, this part of the business was growing it from scratch from the real beginning. And so it's something that I really had to pay very serious attention to. It was different from what Steve Ross came to me.

Speaker He was head of foreign brothers in the group, and he came to me when Warner Brothers was exploding between Warner's Elektra and Atlantic. And he came to me and we had lunch and as sweet. And he said, I've got Ahmed Ertegun, head of Atlantic. I've got Jack Goldsmith, the head of Elektra, and I have Boston and Joe Smith, the head of Warners. And they have fighting the competition within each label is so intense that none of them would want to report to any of the others.

Speaker And I now I have to have the head of the music group. They all report to me. I'm diversifying into several other areas.

Speaker And so I need someone to be the head of the music group.

Speaker And we met we went to Acapulco, where Warners had this house, where they came down there and they came away, that there's only one person that each of them would report to and flatteringly had come to metrically. It was me until he said, Would you come? To be chairman of the Warner Music Group. Sizable, who would run the labels? I mean, would I be able? I mean, you just don't know. You would supervise. You'd be on top. And of course, I gave it toward port. I do the fun I have as it's come out. Over the years where I had to make a similar decision is that I signed artists and I work with the most pleasure at the creative level, not supervising other executives. So I turned Steve Ross down for that flattering offer. But with David, it was different. And I remember saying. Yes, let's talk about it and let's. I would have probably done it except for one factor. Over the ensuing months, David got sick and he was really out of commission with serious illness and health factors. And he called me up after we had not been in touch. Which was uncharacteristic. We had not been in touch for a few, maybe two or three months. And he said, are you coming to Beverly Hills, the Beverly Hills Hotel, where I would go one week out of every four or five. And I said I'd be very sick. Let's have lunch. And I vividly remember having lunch with them at the Beverly Hills Hotel and taking one of those lounges by the pool and him saying, OK, we've got to put teeth in this.

Speaker But I'm worried about one issue very keenly.

Speaker You're used to running Columbia Records. It's a large company. You have a few hundred artists there and they're in every area of music. Now, by this time, I had gotten in urban with urban music, with the Earth, Wind, Fire, with Campbell and Halfaya form Philadelphia International Records, me and Mrs. Jones with Billy Ocean and Teddy Pendergrass and the like, the O'Jays, Backstabber and those hits.

Speaker And he said, I couldn't handle.

Speaker I really want a small boutique company. So I said bye. If I've formed a new company would not be. Columbia Records overnight. But it would be a bottle, perhaps, as to what you could grow to. But I certainly understand that we would not be a major overnight. We're starting from scratch. He said no, I'd give it very serious thought. I could not have more than 10 artists. I signed 10 artists in a year. I mean, so that was intimidating. And we realized and identified that although it would turn out that he was overreacting. To his health issues, because he was slated to form a very successful company, and certainly we would laugh and look back on what happened to that ten orders restriction. For me, it was indicative of the fact that he was thinking so strongly and with such fervor as only David can muster that fervor that this boutique label that I realized that perhaps we have different ideas as to how we would operate. And so it would best be remain friends. And so we didn't go into business together. The part that happened in my memory, the details you are the mistress of. But. It was a very important lesson that I that I learned what happened because he had David and I were going into business together and clearly Laura Nyro would have been one of the artists that would be part of that new company. So we decided not to go forth with our company. But David obviously continued with his plans to form as he did. Asylum records.

Speaker And I just assume since David and law or inextricably bound to each other, that law was going to leave Columbia and was going to go into David's company. So I never called her. I just assumed that that would be the case.

Speaker And one day I remember distinctly that I was at a hotel called the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles at a convention. And I get this call from Laura Nyro. And I picked up the phone and she said, I've got to tell you how disappointed I am. I said, In what? She said, You've never called me to ask me to stay on Columbia Records. Considering we have a life together. You did believe me. You did leave the marketing and you did at every stage of the game, whether it's my songs, my publishing million by potential of an artist. And you've not made one move or call to re sign me. And I was jolted because it was true. And I said, well, I didn't know it was an option. And I said, I always viewed you and David inextricably as a teacher. She says, Let me tell you, when I grew up, when I started writing, the ultimate dream was for me to be an artist on Columbia Records. And here I have achieved that dream. And here I've achieved it with the head of a company that I have a special feeling for. I love David. He's my manager. He's my partner. But I don't know what kind of a record company he's going to build. I have no idea of that company is gonna be successful.

Speaker The thought of being a part of Columbia Records and all that's attendant to that with you as compared to taking a shot. I mean, I'm still going to continue my partnership with David at the levels that I am. But I have to know. Are you interested in me?

Speaker Would you resign me knowing that? I would prefer that. And I remember again to picture I'm head of this company only for four or five years. And you're learning each day. And it became very clear to me that, yes, I would resign you if every manager, Albert Grossman, represented Dylan, represented Big Brother or Janice.

Speaker He started to label the fire and start giving up all the artists that I had, two managers who were forming their own label. I could be out of business.

Speaker And so I said, yes, without question. I would I would resign you and.

Speaker We do know David had already announced. Had he not in a Life magazine story that Laura was going to sign with Simon? Perhaps I don't recall, but it was OK. Let's go.

Speaker But it was very hurtful. All today.

Speaker And I'm sure inexplicable to him that Laura would, in his mind, betrayed him that way. Yes, I understand what you're saying. But can you because I can totally understand as an artist why she made that decision. Do you think she knew how much?

Speaker I think that Laura Nyro knew how much it was going to hurt David. But she's the artist here. He is a business man. Starting a new venture. I would have to leave it to that.

Speaker Orders with her very personal lives, those personalized relationship with David to gauge whether she could separate her career interests.

Speaker And so I knew that David would be upset. But ethically, morally and business wise, I felt keenly that I was in the right to be able to have the freedom to sign her.

Speaker We signed her as an artist. It wasn't that I was a stranger or was raiding his cab. Always moving into his term. He would be asking me to heads off and let me sign your order. So are there both understandable emotions on both sides of the equation? Without question.

Speaker But it led to considering the passion. The David had four more. And the fact that he never could have contemplated that she. Would assent to this signing or residing with Columbia? From my perspective, I did make the call. I did nothing to initiate that.

Speaker And word came from an artist under my contract. I realized a fiduciary boys to my company be responsive to the artist. I did sign David.

Speaker I signed Laura so that I had to think long and hard about it. And I felt that it was right to resign. This artist who wanted to be with Columbia to David, it was a betrayal of betrayal on the part of Laura.

Speaker And he might have been right where war was concerned as to what she owed him. And he might have been right that she should have gone with him, considering how far down the line he went with her.

Speaker But I felt he would not be right where I was concerned.

Speaker And although it led to a severe rupture of our relationship and he wouldn't talk to me, I would talk to him at exactly that. I mean, he did nothing wrong. I was concerned. But he felt that I did.

Speaker And it was very upsetting, very painful to feel that this led to such a rupture on the personal side. But I've got to say something about David, on the other hand. It took about a year and it might have been the anniversary date of all of this where I felt the loss of our friendship. And I felt painful trauma resulting from what occurred. But I get a call from David.

Speaker And it was about nine months to a year into him functioning as head of his new company. And he said, you know, I was wrong. I never should have taken this out on you.

Speaker We were such great friends. I was so close to law. I was so blinded by everything that was occurring. And whatever my thoughts are about her.

Speaker It never should have affected you, because now being the head of my own company, if a manager came to me and said, let me sign this or store that orders, I'm forming my own company, I would never think of bowing out of the picture so that I was naive. I was innocent.

Speaker I was relatively inexperienced. I miss you. I love you. Let's be great friends again. We picked up from the minute after the phone call, though. Nothing happened. And of course, our friendship renewed itself.

Speaker That his friendship with Laura. Yes. And that's always been interesting to me. But he tried. He got kind of got over it. According to the research, he went and knocked on the door to tell her he wanted to say, let's still be friends.

Speaker And she left instructions that she was not to be. And he apparently went home and cried bitterly.

Speaker And that was the end of that. Do you have any idea why she would have done it? Did she ever talk to you?

Speaker I never heard. Never spoke to Laura about. And the complexity and the intimacy and the passion and everything that were known in the relationship of what he said and what she said. I have no I have no idea.

Speaker You know, when I came to see you. We talked a little about David's complex relationship with many of his artists, the ups and downs with Laura, to Jeremy, to Neil, to Crosby, Stills, Nash.

Speaker Know what have you. And I asked you why you thought that he had so many volatile relationships.

Speaker Very interesting theory that he never really talked.

Speaker Well, I remember what I feel that it would have to be consistent. I mean that.

Speaker So why do you think that is?

Speaker David is intensely loyal. Is very, very passionate. And it really takes over his being. So with that, it leads to emotional ups and downs.

Speaker And I would only speculate that although there are tremendous advantages that have served him incredibly well because his story of success is second to none and his achievements are legendary and deserve.

Speaker The upshot of those is that it leads to some volatility. You can't feel that intensely. You don't go up, up and up as a career. Orders don't go up, up, up. And career executives don't go up, up, up. You have to face moments of crisis. You have to face moments of of questioning of the degree of success. So with all of that passion and emotion surrounding, it's not going to be a calm sea. There is going to be some waves, without question.

Speaker You also talked a little bit about how the boundary between.

Speaker Manage.

Speaker Well, David did, which I never did. And it's we have two different.

Speaker Yeah. What David did over the years that I never did. And it's not there's no rights wrongs. We each had our own style. For me, I worked from 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning to eight thirty at night when I would go out to dinner, either with my family or these days with friends or family and order so that they can get me during that period. But thereafter, I don't like having dinners with people that I do business with because it's frankly all about bad. Not that I'm worried about me. But I do want a personal life outside of pure music. My work ethic is intense and it's high, but it's a different aspect.

Speaker I used to marvel the form of an artist coming to live with me in my apartment on my house was just unimaginable. I mean. And David was so gifted. It was I mean, it was so natural for him with this belief that they didn't have apartments. They could come live with them so that I would marvel.

Speaker But that relationship can continue.

Speaker Both business and personal. And it defies logic. I don't think today he would have any whether if he was in the movie business, actor or director, come live with them. I don't think he would if he was still remain in the music business, that he would have orders.

Speaker But those years, he was unique in being able to handle it. And you certainly know that there's a benefit from it. And you know that as life goes on that you can. You've got to have some separation between your personal life and business. There'd be a fallout occurring.

Speaker And I think that at that time, and I think this is a theme in his life that may no longer be a thing. But my sense is of being for a long time that he was looking for a family. He was looking for a father that these relationships were more than business relationships.

Speaker They were family.

Speaker That's true.

Speaker But I'm sure the explanation that David needed a family want to the family did not have a family. And these orders became his family. I think explains why he did it, because he didn't do it, because he thought it would be beneficial necessarily. I think emotionally, I think he he needed that kind of support that you really do only get from family as long as you don't do business with them. Then it becomes too difficult. But that's alert. Listen, we all have to learn. And therefore, David had to learn it as well.

Speaker Did you think of yourself as a father figure? Nowhere.

Speaker No, I never thought of myself. I still to this day, don't. Think of myself as a father figure to anybody. One of my just functionalities is that I think of the age of the person I'm with. So that if I'm stuck, I'm pretty good. Puffing Puffy. I'm the same. I wish I did. I'm the same age as Puffy. If I'm in a meeting with Alicia Keys, whom I discussed, I'm the same age. To this day. So going back 30 or 40 years ago, the idea that I would think that I'm a father figure. No, I did.

Speaker But whether it was possible for the other person to view me as a role model or paternally or in the end, a familial paternal sense. It could have been possible. But for me to think of that would be impossible.

Speaker Well, I know that he had talked to me about asylum and he and I were going to be partners. So if I stopped my memory. It was a very. Both flowering coming from David because he wanted us to. Oh.

Speaker Fifty percent partners in a new record company. And when you're the head of a large companies record company. As I had been of Columbia Records, there was no equity interest that I had in it. So notwithstanding the great success. That we were enjoying. And for me. Maximized by the fact that I never knew that I had years. I never knew that I was discovering a talent that was there buried under everything else. So I was. Having a great time. With the discovery of more orders than I ever could have imagined. So. We really. It was good. David was kind of put into this company. Everything that he owned as far as music and.

Speaker I was going to be running it as the head of the company and.

Speaker It was about the time. My best recollection is.

Speaker Oh.

Speaker When David had gotten sick and the details of which you know more about than I know.

Speaker But I remember.

Speaker The two of us. When David. Was back. In the action planning the company and. Remembers being at the pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Talking about the company and David saying that.

Speaker He had given a lot of thought as to the nature of the company and what was very important to him was that the company only have 10 autists.

Speaker Oh.

Speaker And obviously here I was, the head of Columbia Records. We probably between pop and rock and classical artists, you know, had, what, 150 artists, 200 artists juggling it apart from Broadway show album projects. So I was certainly aware that in starting a new. Enterprise, that we would be starting from scratch and we would be building from there. But my vision was more akin to what ultimately happened with me and Arista Records. You would start small and then hopefully grow it not indiscriminantly side, but just grow it in the areas that I was then function again. Was primarily rock. Some pop. Some R and B.

Speaker So we had a very friendly. It was very warm and friendly.

Speaker But I think that he. Stunned by the impact of what he had just gone through. And getting back to good health. I really felt that for him. The maximum number of autists.

Speaker Would would be handle a ball as compared to undue stress. Was Ted. For me, it didn't seem like a comfortable number so that there was no negotiation or about it, about it put it just the idea of leaving Columbia Records for a company which would have a max.

Speaker Of 10 autists. Didn't seem right to me. So.

Speaker We agree that it just didn't seem right. But. There was never. Any adversarial law discussions, it was tough. We in the planning of what ultimately was going to become asylum records. We each continue our our own way of.

Speaker Actually, I think your timing might be a little off there because David wasn't ill until after selling records.

Speaker Something I think somebody Geffen records after he does feel came back and started getting them back.

Speaker OK. What you will see a celebrated started.

Speaker Seventy seven. OK. And he was ill later. But that's so striking.

Speaker Yes, I was listening. Can start with the at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Speaker So just for me, trying to be accurate. And going back almost 40 years, if not 40 years.

Speaker We don't have to do that. Then I would like you to just. Forget that.

Speaker About the stress factor, there is another reason, and I can't quite figure out what it is that David wanted to keep this company small.

Speaker Initially. I think it was because he won. He wanted to really care and nurture these special artists.

Speaker Can you speak to that? I mean, is that what happened?

Speaker I mean, here's a bunch of artists that were in that group, half hard speaking. Do it now. So something happened there. You know, he wanted.

Speaker He started with this very idealistic goal, I think, of wanting to deal with these very special singer songwriters, going to be a very small group.

Speaker And he was going to nurture them and take care of them. And know not have a huge label where his attention was.

Speaker Oh, like I'm dealing with trying to do this picture right now where he spread's of the.

Speaker Did that work? From your knowledge of the artists that you saw in that clip, do you think that's what happened?

Speaker The general discussions we had was not by.

Speaker Just dealing with the orders that David was involved so that we had not really fleshed it out because this was during a period that I had just discovered Joplin and had signed ton of blood, sweat and Tears and Santana. So that. You know, in the early years discussions, it was a merger of both of our talents. So I don't know the side that motivated David in his head to put a ceiling, at least initially on what he thought the diagram or the blueprint would be.

Speaker In fact, we have kind of we don't know if it's apocryphal story or not, that he was actually in the sauna with. The Eagles or something, or some people from the Eagles said, I never want this company to be larger than the people that can sit in the sauna. Well, we have yet to find anybody who was actually at the site at this hour.

Speaker But clearly, he really did. Vivid in my memory that he really did in the blueprint feel, but very keenly.

Speaker And I'm sure that. From his perspective, that he did want that special handling, that he does so well.

Speaker Jessica, remind me if last time we talked about Laura.

Speaker Not eventually siding with his side. Yes. Could talk that. We talked about that, but we did not talk about tuna fish.

Speaker So. As you know, David had an expectation that Laura would sign with. Asylum and she decided not to take. Yes, we did talk about that. And you. She called you and said. I have two gold medalist. But we didn't talk about tuna fish music. Was there something? Davis becoming partner with Laura and her publishing business, tuna fish music, was that unusual for a manager to do that?

Speaker To be a partner in an artist publishing. Was there something prescient about that then, the way he he built that asset? Was that unusual?

Speaker I don't have an experience, right, and knowing what interest managers have in songwriter's business. So. I'd be speculating. But David did have a very close, intense relationship with, obviously, as you know, with Laura. I have no idea what the percentage interest he had in their village, but I never know what the deal is. On the other side of the table. So, David and law being on the other side of the table. Oh, I never knew what the arrangement was.

Speaker Is it unusual for a manager to have an interest as opposed to the extent that I'm not aware of those arrangements?

Speaker I can't. I can't tell you whether it's usual or not usual.

Speaker But that was a good deal. Tell us about. What was the deal? What happened with it you ended up acquiring. Can you just take that story for us?

Speaker It's so long ago. I don't know.

Speaker I just I don't know the deal, I don't know the substance. I don't. You'd have to refresh my memory.

Speaker I think you wrote that in your book. I think it's. I think he paid was three dollars.

Speaker Yeah, three million plus settlement.

Speaker I did refreshing for this purpose. So I. I wrote the book, you know. Thirty seven years ago. So I just don't know. It may nothing particular. I just don't. I'd have to refresh my memory.

Speaker It was the first big significant sale that David made and it really established he got got him a foothold financially, that for which he was able to build a huge empire and a lot of rich for sure.

Speaker So what was the purchase price? OK. Plus, there was a payoff to already Mobil, which at the time was a.

Speaker Today, people are, you know, having a lot of money, I'm sure.

Speaker Look at that. I'm just, you know, would you do something like this and you're doing it on the person. You start getting into details. 30, 40 years ago, it's very hard to assume that I could recall that.

Speaker But anyway, why just the talk from the news? Why was your catalog so.

Speaker A catalog was valuable because she was an unusually gifted songwriter. And you're also talking not just buying the catalog, but you're talking about futures. In her songwriting and she was writing.

Speaker Really melodic special. Different.

Speaker Unique songs that were also becoming hit. And so that's unusual. So the futures and law, Nero's songwriting was viewed as a very viable asset to acquire.

Speaker Did it pan out? I don't know.

Speaker So I would certainly think so. I mean, you're talking about the catalog and all the hits that she wrote and being in for courted by somebody different orders. I alone. You know, I read subsequently what I formed Hours to the Fifth Dimension, had a number of hits with Laura Nyro. While I was at Columbia, I.

Speaker And in fact, had strides hand with Richard Perry records, Tony. And so when you just think of how many times over the years just on the Streisand recording alone of Tony and what. I mean, so many of the hits that artist had Billboard Nero's songs. I would think it certainly did Pan.

Speaker Put it in some kind of. This is off, not on camera, but I remember learning once that I did this for the Paul Simon Bridge over troubled water. One song alone earned him over a million dollars a year in royalties. Just one song. I mentioned all of the songs. So good track. It paints a picture. I think people still reported Eli's coming.

Speaker Oh, I'm I'm sure will be hardest recording Laura Nyro songs for many years to come.

Speaker So let's move on to doing so. David. You wrote about it wonderfully in your book that getting Dylan was a big coup for David. Do you remember any details about that?

Speaker I'm a bad subject because I I remember certainly. But I don't know the details of it.

Speaker Well, and Dylan was now available because you were no longer at Columbia, so there was big vacuum there in terms of what years has both.

Speaker Seventy three, three.

Speaker And so Dylan was available.

Speaker I mean, if you had remained at Columbia dealing with not available. I think that's important. If you could. I mean, maybe somebody else can say that. But you were the thing that kept still in there and the management.

Speaker Goddard and so forth, they did. They were just they didn't see it. You know, they didn't really see Dolan's value as much. So there was a little bit of a vacuum there. David swooped in. Got it, got Dylan to sign with asylum. Does that help you maybe you could tell us a story?

Speaker There's no story, I was no longer there.

Speaker I don't know the story that you wrote it. Well, let me see what I wrote. And if you have it and I'm more than happy to make it sound like you have to pay a lot of money for basically national. And to two albums that you should be doing.

Speaker The first one he got for the tour. Brian. And then he wanted to see the light and he got those two. He only did, though, the.

Speaker I think. And I've read about it, Dylan did not want to sign a long term contract. He was nervous.

Speaker He got the first album, Planet Way. I got that because he organized the tour. Yes.

Speaker Then he wanted to lie about the tour. And Dylan said, I didn't agree. And he wanted to do something else with it. And then they brought you in to advise them on how to market.

Speaker But Asylum got a tour album eventually.

Speaker You know what I'm saying? Do you have to pay for it?

Speaker Yeah, well, we only had a one album deal with Planet Way.

Speaker So maybe you could just tell that story that you've written about it. If David had made a very big deal about the fact that he had signed Dylan.

Speaker This was a big business. Everyone assumed, of course, that it was a longer term deal, that it was.

Speaker And he he had assumed that he wrote morally or legally that he was entitled to that album because he put the two together and he had this arrangement with Dylan and said that. So had they not been able to get the second album, he would have had egg on his face in the music business. They didn't really have a choice. That's the way I read that story.

Speaker Is that can you talk about why we're still in such a big deal? Why was it a big deal? Because Dylan wasn't yet. I mean, it was clearly it's Columbia wasn't clamoring to hold onto him.

Speaker They weren't seeing the potential.

Speaker It was always so tremendously influential. Almost. So this is nothing new. Bob Dylan, before you certain emerging as a major figure. He. And the Beatles were really when you talk about pioneering influential orders for the ages. He was right there. Really from the beginning. So that it was a big deal for David to get Planet Waves. The intricacies of the contract, the fact that it was one album. It's just the fact of, you know, that became illuminated when the next album, the tour album became the subject of which would be the home for that. It was a very big deal that David Geffen was able to secure Bob Dylan for even one album. Obviously, I'm sure that David wants to establish a relationship with an artist. He would have wanted the second album. But legally and have the right to it. So Bob did his share of. Appraising the situation, what were his options? Where could he go? Should he go back to Colombia?

Speaker Who by this time had, I think, learned that they miss Bob Dylan, that it was detrimental to the image and stature and long term relationships for that bond to have been broken. And I know what that time, based on my relationship with Bob Dylan and his attorney, David. They came to me with a plan to.

Speaker Which happens with the number of orders where they say they cannot reconcile what their sales were compared to what happens if tickets were put on sale for their concerts.

Speaker It happened to the Grateful Dead with me, and that's how I was fortunate enough to sign the Grateful Dead. Right. A few years later, when I had begun Arista Records, where they could sell out Madison Square Garden for a week. Their album comes out and 30000 40000 people will buy their album. But they would get ticket requests for five or 10 times that amount. So here I remembered hello, Bob Dylan and David, along with Robbie Roberts. And they flew me out to Los Angeles and I met with them, you know, really appraising their plan to bypass all of retail and rock Jaubert distribution to come up with a direct mail idea to sell the next album via television and direct to the consumer.

Speaker Availability of.

Speaker Being with my experience, that was not a good idea. So I argued against that. That Bob Dylan should be bypassing all of retail and all of right job distribution and just go out and sell the album on television. Did not seem like a good idea to me. So I think I scotched that. I think from that point of view, I was persuasive and and having the rule that out as an option. But then it left. In effect, Columbia had Geffen bidding against each other. By this time, Columbia, I think, felt the loss of of Dylan and offered more much more in royalties than it had paid than Geffen was paying. Dylan. And so they went to a healthy competition. Whereas to the best of my recollection. Kevin matched the Colombia offer that ruled the day he had arranged for the tour. He did get that second album.

Speaker And how would it have? Look for him. Had he not been able to.

Speaker This idea of how things would look or not, look, I have no recollection of. I know that it was clear and becoming known that the second album was available. Or the follow up to Planet Waves was available.

Speaker He got it.

Speaker So I don't know how many days, how the heck society I be filling in spaces without specific knowledge.

Speaker David has written about it, got written about it. David has talked about it, and it's been written about that. He was really very hurt by it.

Speaker Dillon's situation was one part, you know.

Speaker And Dylan and Robbie want to make up to it, make up for it, for that. And also nothing acknowledged in the closing night party or something like that. So they threw this big birthday party for him. You know. I don't know what is. Do you know anything about how David was responding to this situation? Was what did you and he ever talk about it? No. So were you in competition at that point?

Speaker Was I competition? No, no, no, no.

Speaker I formed Arista Records at the end of 1974, being funded by Columbia Pictures.

Speaker So for me was yes, I had the right.

Speaker They owned Bell Records, so I had the right to take anything from the Bell Records catalog and to at least not just sign the way David did the first orders from asylum. I would have business and I would have a staff of.

Speaker But I didn't really. So the strike.

Speaker So that for me, the first record's coming out on Arista Records were the few orders that I picked up from what had been Bell Records.

Speaker We started scribed for their roster. I was beginning at the beginning with ours. But at least I had a catalog. I had their pop. And that was really a. For territory for me, when almost every orders that I had signed at Colombia was rock and roll and has got me in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but all of a sudden I was into the pop music business because Columbia Pictures was contributing its catalog from Bell Records and I could pick from their previous roster. So I went around listening to all the albums of artists on Bell, and it was in that manner that I signed Barry Manilow.

Speaker It was in that way that I signed Melissa Manchester, and that got me fully into the pop business. But as I proceeded with our astir, I used my experience at Columbia. So we got into rock with Patti Smith and Lou Reed and Graham Parker and the Grateful Dead and the Kings. And we got in to Urban R and B music with Ray Parker, Junior with Angela Bofill with Tom Brown's Funk in Jamaica, and then ultimately with three years later with Aretha Franklin, a deal more work. Whitney Houston, we go on with the Puffy label and we're the Levey's records label for all of which I find out.

Speaker So that no, I but I started out as it was to start up with some momentum, but not really a competitor in the of reality sense.

Speaker Thank you.

Speaker Yeah. We just did X Factor in England together. I just got back from from London where I coalbed, toured with her, the contestants on that show and.

Speaker It had a big impact. Her album entered at the top of the charts.

Speaker David and I know when he came into New York, we'd occasionally have a meal together, but we really didn't.

Speaker Any time thereafter, interface on the business front. He was always a good friend. At various times during my contractual negotiations, he was always ready to offer his valuable insight into the situation. The two of us were very friendly with Alan Grubin. Alan is over the years, has been a good friend with David and has been a good friend as well as my representative. So while I've always felt very comfortable in speaking about my personal contractual things, going back years ago with David and his insight has always been available. He's very, very aware of that. Equities and the negotiation. And so his insight for those times we met was always viable.

Speaker Well, what was what was the perception within the music industry about David when he sold asylum and was now working on the movie side of things that people think he was history in the music business? And was that it was a perception.

Speaker You remember people that to me, David, has always been one of the very, very, very successful music company entrepreneurs. He always had his unique style. He always had his personal involvement. But he was a very successful music fan.

Speaker What do you think? How would you characterize his legacy? Do you think he was he made a lasting impact on the music business.

Speaker I think he's made a lasting impact on the music business in many different ways. A, he was a very successful manager. I think that he his taste of orders that he was involved with, whether the relationships lasted or not, is immaterial. His taste. Was excellent. And his relationship with autists was very special and was very personal. And so therefore, all the artists that he was involved with. There was this very close relationship involving emotions, feelings, passions. And he was very, very tasty. You know, so that. His all his legend of where he grew from is unique to him in that he was able because he has limited the number of relationships that he had. He was able to move on to the motion picture business. And I think the way that he established that, the way that he established thoughts with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, that is very is true, too. He went to two incredibly talented men. And so therefore, they they were unique in being able to establish a very special company on formation. So without getting into the history of of it as it all unravelled, the fact that David. She was right, that low sentence, because a. I think David has been very unique about all the special music of being a full. At some point to almost leave the record business behind had to get into motion pictures and to get it to with two giants of the industry so that the three of them established such a special or among them. The fact that he's been able to move into the world of art and real estate and of business outside of music. As always, Deb Tim with the unique dose and special quality. There are very few people who graduate from the music business here, I'm still in it loving it and really only getting into film for the soundtrack of The Bodyguard or The Preacher's Wife for a few of the movies or songs coming from it. I was thinking of waiting to exhale among the. But David was able to get into the motion picture business. David was able to get into the world of business itself. So he graduated from music for myself and Boston Amateur to get the who's that with the competitive rivals. We were all friends but rivals on the business front. David was very unique. To move on friendly.

Speaker When I. It's very clear to me. You talked about, you know, an army, he got cut from a very different cloth. David, you really are our music man.

Speaker David is not a music man in that sense. So how do you explain his success? He was really a business guy with a good with with good instincts. I'm not putting down. I think he's a genius. But he's is not the same as the three of you. He's not a music man. This is truly a music.

Speaker And I think that that has something to do with why the artists feel differently about him when they do that, you know. And you in an uncomfortable place.

Speaker I think everybody has his own style. David was a very good music by. It should not be beautiful. To his credit that he moved on from there.

Speaker So that, yeah, we didn't. So maybe we represent a pure abuse. Because if he was a pure music man, he would not have graduated to move on to the other fields of interest that he has expanded his interest to.

Speaker But I don't think that's a fair judgment. I think that he was a very astute, successful music man in his own right. Very unique to David. But that's OK. I don't think that it's fair to say that it was not a great music.

Speaker I didn't mean to say it was a different kind.

Speaker But I get the sense that he was completely he said, well, maybe, you know, we're different in it.

Speaker I can't say that he didn't love the music when he was involved with Lord Neuros music. Keith love Laura Nero's music. What? He was involved with Jackson Browne. There was nobody like Jackson Browne. So that or Joni or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and what have you so that I don't get no talking to you. I'm picturing the passion of David. He was involved.

Speaker But David had other interests as well.

Speaker I'm I to ask you a question going back to Joanie. We're going to possibly be talking to Charlie Kalala, who was not Johnny Laura's producer.

Speaker David chose for him. Did you know Charlie?

Speaker I did know Charlie.

Speaker Oh, I put I remember who he was. And I remember we were involved in a certain time in certain areas, but nothing illuminating there.

Speaker It's see, what about farming?

Speaker The forest. Yeah. Were you there? The Carnegie Hall or near Carnegie Hall concert? Were you there?

Speaker You know, it's so funny because I've had 50 orders.

Speaker I'm sure I was there. What year was it?

Speaker Yeah, what he did before him, before he started asylum. So sixty nine. Of course, I must have been there.

Speaker I mean, I was in X number of Lord Derald concerts, but I don't have a specific memory of.

Speaker Because I was also a very big deal. That's a very big deal.

Speaker Do you remember the Post Grammy, York Post Grammy breakfast where a date where?

Speaker Yes. Could you tell us that story? Brian wrote him story. I remember about Kitto.

Speaker What year was that?

Speaker Seven. No, it wasn't.

Speaker Was it 77? I think it was. Oh, OK. Oh, there was there was Sue Mengers and Paul site, correct.

Speaker It would have been.

Speaker What I remember is that. David was sitting at my table.

Speaker We're talking the year 1977.

Speaker The tradition of the Grammy party had been established the first year that I started Arista. Barry Manilow had been nominated for two Grammys. They were here every year. Traditionally, the party was held the night of the Grammys. But having just started Arista, there would just be a table or two or Chasen's. Where we going to have it? We decided that year. We would have it at the Beltway or our hotel. Every was that was the night before the Grammys. Everybody came. Stevie Wonder, Elton John, John Denver. So it was very successful and. We've looked in two, I think for the year 77, we decided it would be a brunch. It would not be an evening of there. And we had it and established what was going to become a long term relationship with the Beverly Hills Hotel. So I remember we were in the ballroom.

Speaker Oh.

Speaker The Beverly Hills Hotel and.

Speaker David was sitting at my table, Sue Mengers, the extremely talented talent agent, unique talent agent, was there. I just remember the various people who were I know that Linda Ronstadt was that was there that year and some members of the Beach Boys. It was not just certainly a party for hours to records. It was really starting this tradition, which has grown of being the industry party and. It became very disquieting because in the middle of the party, coming down the stairs was.

Speaker An attorney, very individualistic attorney who had represented Bill Graham and had been there in San Francisco. Brian Breaux had pride behave very badly. He came. Down clearly with emotion. The hostility that he had, the genesis of it. I know nothing about. But I know that he made a beeline to to the table and there was a scuffle with him really being incensed at David. The background of which I know nothing about the any appropriate behavior. Had an evening at at a function like this. And there was you know, I remember hearing prior animatedly express hostility and whether he hit David or whether he attempted to hit David. I don't know the details of, but I remember it being. An uproarious. Thing to do. Very inappropriate, certainly by both sympathy and empathy. Go out to David. Somebody bearing some grievance and using a public function to display that.

Speaker So it's very inappropriate. But David seems to elicit very strong reactions from people.

Speaker Can you speak to that?

Speaker I think, David. Has very strong feelings and there's a very passionate person. And his very candid and expressing his feelings when he's feeling.

Speaker Something.

Speaker And so you do find that there are strong feelings, but. And try to. Appraise those feelings. I think that in general, he has created a very unique spot for himself because it's not controversial whether he's been successful. He's been incredibly successful.

Speaker It's not controversial. As to his business dealings or his sagacity or when he is chosen and he still had been in partnership, you know, with Steven Spielberg. He still was in partnership with Jeffrey Katzenberg. He had very close relations with government, erred again. He had very close relationships with both Austen.

Speaker So I think he's had a very. Unique position. Of having graduated from the worlds of music to a larger stage, whether it be film or whether it be politics or whether it be business or whether it be art or whether it be real estate. In a special manner. And when a man feels things intensely. They'll be strong feelings involved. But overall, what has got to respect the enormity of the. Was to his acumen and success that he has enjoyed.

Clive Davis
Interview Date:
2009-06-08
Runtime:
1:58:27
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
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MLA CITATIONS:
"Clive Davis, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 08 Jun. 2009, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/667
APA CITATIONS:
(2009, June 08). Clive Davis, Inventing David Geffen. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/667
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Clive Davis, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). June 08, 2009. Accessed January 20, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/667

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