5 artists who were mentored by Clive Davis: Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and more
28 September 2021, 12:52
Clive Davis is a legendary record producer who is responsible for influencing and mentoring some of the greatest artists of all time. This includes Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys amongst others.
Clive Davis has received many accolades and awards for his contribution to popular music including winning four Grammy Awards. Clive was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer in 2000.
With decades of experience behind him, Clive has established the careers of some of the greatest artists of all time. Here’s everything you need to know about the artists who were mentored by Clive Davis.
Clive Davis was an instrumental part in launching Whitney Houston’s career and they remained close throughout Whitney’s life.
During an appearance on Good Morning America, Clive explained how he introduced the world to a young Whitney Houston.
Read more: Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin’s incredible friendship explained
Clive said: “I put her [Whitney] on Merv Griffin two weeks later, after I signed her, before we recorded anything. Here she was, just turning 19 and she was stunning, beauty, stunning vocalist and I brought her on national television. I introduced her for the next generation.”
Clive Davis appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and discussed how he mentored Bruce Springsteen. Clive explained that he was introduced to Bruce by John Hammond.
“I saw him as a real original, someone who was not just the new Bob Dylan or another Bob Dylan, that was the kiss of death in those days. And so, I was excited and I signed him,” Clive said.
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Clive explained how he gave Bruce advice about his music production and how to command a large stage. Clive hired a theatre in Los Angeles and put together a series of live shows - during the rehearsals, he told Bruce to move around the stage more.
Clive explained: “Bruce comes on this stage and it’s an enormous stage and he was just standing there. So, in rehearsal, I went up and I walked him from one side of the stage to the other.
“I said ‘when you play a place like this, you’ve gotta take advantage of it’. Fast forward two years later, I founded Arista [Records], we were not connected, he was still on Columbia of course.
“And he played The Bottom Line and he invited me down [and said] ‘you gotta see what I’m doing now’. And I went down there and there was the great Bruce Springsteen emerging, jumping on tables you know, so live, so energetic, so compelling.
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“I was amazed. The show was over, I walked back to his dressing room and he looked at me and said ‘so Clive, did I move around enough for you tonight?’”
Aretha Franklin met Clive Davis in 1979 and she already had a well-established career.
At the time of meeting Aretha, Clive was running Arista Records, the pair built and maintained a strong friendship that lasted for decades.
During an interview, Clive explained that when he first met Aretha she felt that she was in a “slump” career-wise and Clive said that he reassured her before helping to refresh her image and career.
Read more: 5 of the best tributes to Aretha Franklin: Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Patti LaBelle and more
“She was in a bit of a slump yes but she was the Queen of Soul and she said ‘you know I’m nearing 40 and I’m nervous that you know can I have hits after 40?’,” Clive said on CBS This Morning.
“I said listen to me you’re timeless.”
Clive discovered and signed Janis Joplin in 1967 after seeing her live at the Monterey Pop Festival.
Speaking on Good Morning America, Clive mentioned that it was his first festival after becoming the head of Columbia Records and said that he “didn’t know what awaited” him at the event.
“In the afternoon Big Brother and the Holding Company with his riveting hypnotic Janis Joplin came on stage and if the word epiphany means anything, it defines what happened to me,” Clive explained.
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“I had never signed an artist before and I knew it was going to be a revolution and I signed Janis and Big Brother.”
In 2019, Alicia Keys posted a vlog on her YouTube channel and shared a trip to LA where she took part in a performance to honour the life of Aretha Franklin.
During the video, Alicia is joined by Clive Davis and they have a discussion about the legacy of Aretha, they also mentioned how Clive helped Alicia with her career goals.
“I’m here with one of the most important people in my entire life, Mr Clive Davis,” Alicia said.
Clive mentioned that Alicia had hopes of performing alongside Aretha - he also explained how he was able to make the performance happen.
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Clive added: “Your dream you said would be to perform on the same stage with Aretha Franklin and I had the ability to fulfill that dream.
“So, my memory of the two of you on stage together is very vivid.”