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date: 20 November 2019

Davis, Clivelocked

  • Jesse Jarnow


(b Brooklyn, NY, April 4, 1932). American music industry executive. Described by a biographer as a “rock warlord,” he received full scholarships to both New York University and Harvard Law School and joined Columbia Records as an assistant counsel to its primary lawyer, Harvey Schein, in 1962. He befriended the president Goddard Lieberson and within five years was named president himself. While attending the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967, Davis became a convert to rock and subsequently signed many of the era’s biggest stars, including Janis Joplin. During the next five years Columbia more than doubled its earnings, with Davis credited for landing many of its most important artists. He was fired in 1972, after he was accused of spending the label’s money on his son’s bar mitzvah, and was subsequently indicted on charges of filing false income tax returns. In 1974 Davis consolidated several subdivisions of Columbia Pictures (no relation) into Arista Records. He signed older acts, including the Grateful Dead, and found such new stars as Whitney Houston. In the mid-1980s Arista became a division of BMG, which itself became part of Sony in ...

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