High Clive, low, low there, Rob, good to see you. It's so good to see you. I spent last night watching your documentary and I got so nervous knowing I was going to be talking to you that I had a hard time going to sleep.
Well, we no longer hope that nothing remotely to be nervous about.
Welcome to a special edition of our special Grammy edition of Literally with Rob Lowe, this thing we're going to do from time to time where we give you a little special something, something, something when it warrants it.
And if Grammy weekend doesn't warrant it, I don't know what does. And if you're talking about music and you're talking about the Grammys, there is nobody you'd rather talk to than our guest today, Clive Davis, who is the man who signed.
Think about it, he discovered and signed Janis Joplin. Bruce Springsteen, Santana, Billy Joel. Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin. Barry Manilow, Whitney Houston, Patti Smith. And along with L.A. Reid and Babyface, Outkast, Usher, Pink, Toni Braxton. Notorious B.i.g.. This guy is the Yoda of music. And is coming our way. OK, let's proceed. Let's proceed. All right, we're proceeding. OK, first things first. Is there a mathematical formula for a hit?
I don't think there's a mathematical formula for a hit. I think it's very important, however, that you do educate yourself. I do think it's important that you know what you're looking for so often. I find that a person in appraising whether you have a hit is either looking too much at a track while listening to the melody without considering the lyric. So there's some mathematical equation that you really have to have. Yes. In traditional years with it could be you are listening to the melody, you all the sending to the lyric.
Now, there are certain records for you to know. The lyric is not nearly as important, as important, and about what we are trying to evoke that kind of emotion that generates request and the instinct to go out and buy the record in the years ago today, obviously with hip hop dominating. There are a whole new set of factors in there. But if you're looking for those copyrights traditionally that would be used in songbook, Barry Manilow songbook, both of which I'm so proud of.
Those songs were not just hit records. They have become the standards, you know, and are part of contemporary cultural life.
They're part of the American canon of of songs. And and you kind of presupposed my next question in your answer, which is.
What makes a hit generationally changes, correct, what is a hit today would not have been a hit in nineteen seventy five and vice versa. Or I mean, could I write the songs be hit today. It would be far more difficult, it would be really difficult, you would have to look to other factors, broadcast opportunities to help break. But radio is still very important. It's a top priority with the play, the record and those year's top 40, which is the real prime trigger for a hit record with the hip hop dominating today.
It's tough, but not impossible. Ed Sheeran is having huge hits today. It's just more difficult for the middle of the road singer to make.
Let me ask you this. When one of the things I love about your career is when you went to Monterey Pop Festival, not knowing what you were going to see and you saw Big Brother and the holding company and you and but more importantly, you saw what a cultural kind of movement it was among an audience that wasn't being underserved.
There were still people who thought the rock and roll was a passing fad. How do you what do you what do you people thought that way about hip hop is rock and roll dead? And is hip hop the new rock and roll?
Well, there's no question that it's more difficult for rock today. The power rock stations is less than it used to be, and it's hard to even put it. On one hand, the number of new rock orders that have broken through the. I'm sad about that. Let me just say parenthetically, I mean, I there's got to be a new Springsteen. There's got to be a new Dylan apart from the Rolling Stones. But hip hop is dominating.
One of the things I was I was thinking about, when you say it's hard, you need to break acts on television in different ways. I heard a story, it may be apocryphal about Kenny G, who, you know, you discovered and made the I mean, he's still the probably the largest selling instrumentalist of all time, wouldn't you say?
Yes, he is, without question.
So I heard that he gets the big break to do The Tonight Show. And they are he's going to do he's going to go in and he's going to do two songs and one of them, Songbird, which became a huge hit, that was what broke him out. And there was one other song on the album that they were going to do. And so he records he he he rehearses both for The Tonight Show and then they come to air and they run late.
And the producers come to him and they say, we're cutting one of the songs and we want you to play whatever the song, that wasn't Songbird. And he said, no, I want to play Songbird, that's the single we're trying to break, and I think it's really important, this Adeno, this is the song we want, and that Kenny and his band decided that Phuket, they were going to play Songbird no matter what he says. Listen, don't listen to anybody.
However they introduce it when they count us down, we're doing Songbird. And he said, look, I might not ever be invited back to Kerson, he's never been on Kurson. It doesn't get any bigger than Carson, but he plays Songbird. And someone was watching The Tonight Show and heard it is is this ringing any bell for you? Because I and that someone said this is the kind of music we should be making more of or doing more of.
And it just blew his whole career sky high and always think about that in terms of being an actor and and being an artist and having the courage of your convictions under pressure, because that's a great call. We did that.
Well, first of all, no, I'm not familiar with the story, but certainly Kenny was right in saying I'm here for promotion. I've got to promote our single. Otherwise there's no real reason to do the show. But as if you see my documentary, which I know you have now, and it's just gone viral on Netflix.
So, yeah, basically everybody, if you haven't seen it, it's it's called the soundtrack of Our Lives. Clive Davis on Netflix, if you like music even a little bit. And if you love music, you're going to love it, but yes, Kenny is very funny in the video, Rob, I wrote a letter to every top 40 adult contemporary station in the country, a Kennedy says in the documentary. And I said, look, you don't normally play instrumentals, but I've given you a lot of great music in my life.
And what I would urge you to do is think out, think out of the norm, think out of the normal boundaries. And this record will react. And fortunately, a few heroes did. The reaction was dependent and it led to the big record. And, of course, Kenny exploding. And then every album that they did, you know, was just huge.
What I'm a huge Christmas guy, huge Christmas music. I mean, and like the more traditional, the better. I'm a big Ray Conniff singers guy and Kenny's Christmas album was also your idea. And Kenny famously said, Clive, I'm a Jew. I can't do a Christmas album. And you said Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas. It was good enough for him.
And indeed, that's a true dialog. Look, I'm Jewish. I said there's no reason why you can't do a Christmas album. So he did. And of course, it became the biggest selling Christmas album in history.
It's a spectacular album. There's a great story in your documentary where you wanted to put a vocal on it and Kenny didn't want to put a vocal on it. And it sold a lot. And Kenny said, Now, Clive, can you please just once admit you're wrong? You said no, there's a vocal. It would have sold even more.
The gets a great I've seen it in the theater at Radio City. We opened the Tribeca Film Festival and it really brought the house down.
It's so good. You know, you are famously. And by the way, before I move on to this, because talking about Kenny G, then I think you need to go to the subject that comes up whenever you think about Kenny G. And that would be the notorious B.i.g. because, you know, everybody thinks about those two in the same breath. The notion that you have a career that spans that that kind of of of music is is amazing to me.
How what is it about you that was able to come from your background and your interest and then understand that that notorious big biggie was. A special talent, let me say, as an executive. She got to know what you can do yourself. You got to know what's within the spectrum of what is your talent.
And when I saw that the future was going to be great of music, was going to be greatly impacted by rap, by hip hop.
I knew that the artists that I had on the hours that I was working with Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin D on Wallwork, I had also to supplement that I wanted to blue collar RB audience. And so I financed Lipase Records with L.A. Reid and Babyface and through.
Look, these records we brought to Outkast and to Pink and to Toni Braxton and Alicia, but when Puffy came along and he was a young man of about twenty three years old, he was but totally close to the street.
I was not close to the street. So I took the meeting with him and he very articulately said, I'm attracted to what you and Arista have done because you own Top 40. I believe the top 40 must embrace hip hop. And he did that very articulately. It was a pioneering thought. And I said, well, give me an example of who you're thinking of, what kind of music, what will?
Did the town of tomorrow and he came in, he played for me Craig Mack's flavor in your ear, and he came here, says, here's a guy.
And he called them Biggie Smalls. And he said, I'm doing an album with them. And he came and he played. Three notorious big cults for me and I could have found Biggie know, would I have ever been able on my own to sign Biggin? No, but my ears did identify that this was exciting new sounds of new talent and that I bought into what was Puppis vision for Bad Boy. And that's how I got involved with Notorious.
It's it's just I mean, the list of people I really I honestly don't know where to begin.
By the way, I should tell you that I Clivia hold a grudge that you didn't sign. My second cousin once removed John Mellencamp.
I got a great Mellencamp story. He is literally my son.
He is my second cousin.
Once removed, John Mellencamp, little Mark Twain Mellencamp story.
Yes, I'm very angry. You need to tell me what you were thinking. Well, the real. All right, I'm going to tell you the story. I would say maybe ten years ago, more and more young went to the publisher of Rolling Stone. Well, being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
And there was a dinner the night before for young friends to be more intimate than the big, big, big dinner at the Waldorf the next night. So I was there at the restaurant. You probably went two years ago as well, called Elaine's OK?
The ones on Second Avenue. She was the queen of the restaurant business. And anyway, yes, we were there at cocktails and. There was someone saying it's time to go in to dinner and who so this was my table. Were all were standing, so we all sat down.
It was me, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne. Oh, going right now. My take, Bill. I'm telling you word for word, the truth.
Those are my that's my Mount Rushmore right there. That's my Mount Rushmore of music. OK, so I'm sitting with Rob Lowe's, Mount Rushmore with just that group. And I'm the only artist and they get to talking to everyone, audition for me. And of course, Bruce did through John happen. Then I signed Don Henley was a friend. He and I were friends.
I never audition them.
I looked at Jackson and he told me a story one day, I'll tell you that he was supposed to audition for me. But David Geffen sort of pulled him out of my office before the audition began because David really wanted and signed Jackson to his upcoming new label.
But that that he is a manager was beginning. So then I look at John Mellencamp. I say, John, in every interview I'm asked, who is the most famous person you ever passed on?
And you were the guy. I said, I, I, you know, I all I know and memory is that when you auditioned for me, I felt you were too close. And it's ironic that Bruce is sitting between us and we're here together because I felt you would I was wrong. You emerge as one of the great rock American anywhere in the world of musical of persons, if you will, artists of all time. So he said, Clive.
Let me fill you in and no longer will you have to apologize. He said, I would say about three or four months before you and I met, I was in the cupboard there in Las Vegas performing only covers of other people's heads with the band. And a guy comes in and looks at us and he is puff on his cigar, and that was a guy by the name of Tony DeFreeze, David Bowie's manager, and he looks at me after we are doing our cover song and emotions me to come over.
And he said, Look. I will be your manager if you leave the group and if you see if you could write, do you have an aspiration to write? He said. I said, I think I could, but I really have not. That's why we're doing covers song. So I quit the band. I go out and I start writing and about six weeks later I get a call from Tony defrayed. All right. I set up your first audition.
You can audition for Clive Davis and. I was shocked, but obviously I'm not saying no when I auditioned for you, Clive, my hero, Bruce Springsteen, there was no question after my just working on song for the six, eight weeks that I had my own personality, that I was ready to write Jack and Diane, so that there's no question Bruce was my hero if I had to be like anybody.
You're right. I was probably under a great influence.
So that's a great story. It's a great player. We all listen and I feel much better about my passing on John.
Hold that thought. We'll be right back. A lot of the people on your show that you made are singers who readily accepted material. I mean, I was interested to see the Barry Manilow conversation where he was more stubborn about that than I than I would have I would have thought. Do you think you would have? Do you think you would have been as successful if your stable were more in the sink, the singer songwriter Jackson Browne type of era, or because you had more singers and you were able to provide them with hits that made a difference?
Well, let me set the right scene. I was head of Columbia Records. You're right. My first time was Janis Joplin and Big Brother. I had never signed an artist in my life I liked, but I didn't grow up with it as a hobby where I collected records. So I had no idea that I had any ear to. But when every year or two was had and I realize that those people who were doing Tony Bennett and Andy Williams, Bob Barbra Streisand, they don't care what's going on in the rock world.
And it was only in Monterey that I saw a revolution, a musical revolution, cultural social revolution. So I said, you know, you see. At Columbia, I only ran into self-contained order, so when I signed Choplin and led me then to sign not just Springstein but Aerosmith, Earth, Wind and Fire, Chicago, blood, sweat and tears. So I signed self-contained Lakotas. I was fired from Columbia because at the height of our strength, we had gone from number three label to number one label and we were flying high.
And some executive that was involved with fraud and forging checks and whom I had to fire had claimed to get a lighter sentence, that there was payola in the record industry. And then Columbia.
And let me just stop you really let me just stop you for some context right there. Was that the beginning and the really the genesis of. The phrase payola or was that also in the 50s as well, see, in the 50s, we're now talking really in 1972 three.
Correct. And a guy was president for six months. He was thirty seven years.
The law firm said, cut off your big broadcasting with CBS. We own government licenses. I don't care who's head of your music division. Let them go. It took me a year and a half to be vindicated. It took me a year and a half. The company was totally blameless. There was no payola and the industry in huge terms was vindicated. But the wound was there and I had to start a new company so funded by Columbia Pictures, I all of a sudden I had the right because Columbia Pictures owned Bell Records and they were giving in to my new company, ours, whatever orders from their label I chose.
And so I saw Barry open for Deum Wallwork in Central Park. I saw him as the great showman and I said, OK, I'm sending you to Arista. I'm listening to the material.
He was virtually unknown other than the piano player and arranger Bette Midler, and I didn't hear hits on the album. So for the first time and the reason I'm telling you this story is that I said, you know, if I just signed records like I did at Columbia and the new rock was punk New Wave, those artists don't sell the way bridge over Troubled Water with Simon and Garfunkel Blood, Sweat and Tears. Three million, four million albums. I have to see a a song era hearing ability so that if an artist did not write.
I need mainstream meds if I'm going to be a major here, I had been out of the largest drug company in the world, made it the law, and Europe is turning a brand new company. So I gave Bauer a mandate. He always considered himself a composer, didn't even believe he was a showman, reluctantly did that and was the first recording on ours and it went to number one.
So he gave me two songs on every subsequent album. He wrote the album and he gave me two songs, every song I gave them, trying to get the feeling again. We continue doing England. I write the song. Looks like we made it. I gave it to him and he loved it and he brilliantly arranged it, but he still felt as the composer that that was the essence of who he was. And, of course, just to digress for a second, we've had the great pleasure, Barry and I, because he ended up writing Copacabana.
He wrote, this one's for you and. He's now in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and I've had the great pleasure of presenting him with the award where he was given the award that only a look Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett at once as the great interpretive singers so quickly moving forward, only given two songs on each Manilow album. I had a big backlog and I said, my God, I got to another artist.
Can't wait, wait. I'm going to start again to stop you one second for some context. You're telling me that you had that many songs you thought would have been hits for Barry. You had more than two per album. Wow.
Yes, I did. Well, it was proven because I then looked and it's a thrill to discover this from scratch, like Bruce or Whitney of these chiqui. But it's also a thrill to bring back an incredible artist who was no longer recording and show that there are many more years of life and beautiful music. And so the first such established orders that I signed because Dionne Warwick and all those Burt Bacharach and David hit before, but you have no longer recording.
And the first song we did together was a song idea for Barry, and it was Never Love This Way Again. And I had Barry producer and Dionne exploded Double Platinum Album, won the best two Grammy best female pop vocal female RB vocals, and it led to a wonderful association with Diane where I found Deja Vu Heartbreaker.
And ultimately that's what friends are for. And that led to Aretha Franklin and the great decades Aretha and I were together where I was her creative collaborator and the two of us, after she had already been the queen of soul with a collaboration with Jerry Wexler.
But then we. And I found that I knew you were waiting for me, the great George Michael just doing it for themselves. Well, then he likes free love and read the well into a 40 50s and later got Grammy nominations, Grammy Awards, a number one records and all that occurred prior to Whitney Houston.
So that is the context where I learned not some word. Yes. They're the self-contained artists. Alicia Keys, I would never give an outside song to I respect her creativity and everyone got it right for themselves, you son, for their genius, but where others really don't write like Aretha, Deon, Whitney. He used to be used as a player, could go on and on. I then had opened my ears to find songs for their careers. Tell me about literally writing for what did you get the writing credit on?
Is it it's it's all out of love, isn't it?
There's a lot of love came in after they had a big hit record, but I went through the material and in their material was a song called All Out of Love. But the lyric I know, I remember the next line was I'm all out of love, I want a rescue.
And I looked at the two I know that I love I want to arrest you.
So what is the I mean, in America? I mean, you get arrested and somehow it had another meaning in Australia. So where they came from. So I said, you know, this melody is up the title. Fine. Let's sit down and write the lyrics to fulfill the potential. So the only time in my life I sat down and co-wrote with them the lyric to I a lot of love I that's what I mean.
There's so many great little factoids. But that, that that's a great one. Here's a here's a good one for you. And I've been thinking about this for a while. My guess is this happened during the era when you were estranged from being able to work from Earth, Wind and Fire, the song September. Was that under your purview, because I have a question about it. It was not. No, I knew it. It was not.
I signed Earth, Wind, Fire under the circumstances. I had seen them open for John Sebastian of the London Spoonful. I was knocked out by this group and they were under contract to Warners, but there were very, very unhappy. So they wanted to audition for me the kind of material that they would record in the future. And we arranged on the very stealthy conditions a small studio in L.A. and they played Maurice White Verdine. They played for me the material that they wanted to record, but had not.
I was knocked out and I said, look, I don't want to be teased. If you ever get free of your mourner's contract, I will sign you. And sure enough, a few months later, I don't know how they did it. Bob Cabala and Rob Lowe, they freed Earth, Wind and Fire.
And for the first time in Colombia's history, we had the next convention in London. But my belief in the big girl. That I don't want all the Colombian personnel from all over the world just to hear music. This group has to be seen and there will be much bigger than any record. And I don't know what they had a single because they were different and unique. So I flew them to London and they blew away the audience there at Columbia.
And that's how I introduce them to Colombia and they never forget it. And I just was down this past year that were being honored by the National Portrait Gallery in D.C.. Right. Which they didn't even know that.
Well, that's a portrait that that's a portrait I want to see. I want to see the portrait of Earth, Wind and Fire.
Well, there be the National Portrait Gallery. Wow. I run it down. There it was Michelle Obama was there and Anna Wintour and Jeff Tasos. It's a wonderful evening. And I inducted them into the National Portrait Gallery. But forget that they appeared my Grammy party every few years. They're wonderful human beings and they're fabulous musicians.
So, so. So, Clive, here's how I knew that September, one of my favorite songs was not under your regime. You know that songs out of time badly, is it?
I never studied it, too. Oh, OK. So here's what you're going to do today. This is my gift to you. You're going to listen to September. And you're going to see how horrendously bad out of time it is, and it's a massive hit and it's genius, but I would say by the time it ends, its doubled its tempo unintentionally. I love these like weird little because there's perfection in music, as you know, and then there's feel.
And that that was there were other versions of the song that were the time was proper, but it didn't have the feel. So they wisely went. It's like your famous story about David Foster's mix for I Will Always Love You and I love that story. I love that story David wanted to do. And I love I'm not speaking out of school.
I love David Foster. I've known him for 40 years. But he is a perfectionist, like like he would rather and I would say this to his face, he'd rather have a note be pitch perfect than good.
So and he wanted it to rejigger with the mix. And you said, no, this mix is good. And you sent it out. And the rest is history. Isn't that correct? That is correct.
True. Or and David will be the first one to tell, but to tell the story. Well, look, the field is so important and perfection sometimes is not the most desirable, he David tells me a great story when he was doing the Canadian version of We Are the World, by the way, that phrase, the Canadian version of We Are the World makes makes me laugh for some reason.
I'm not sure why, but he and he had all these amazing artists and get Neil Young, who's probably on my Mount Rushmore as well in the vocal booth, and he was on the mike. Neil, I think you're a little flat on the the third word. And feels like, hey, man, that's my style. Be right back after this. The unlikely couple of you and Patti Smith. Explain that one to me. I feel like you guys are totally the most I mean, the the big hit melodies, the earworms, the American songbook canon that I associate you with.
And then Patti Smith, who, by the way, is one of the great authors of all time.
I'm sure you read her books, right? They're amazing. They're they're but I would caution you.
To take me back, OK, good. I got it right, I should explained to you that at Columbia I only signed recordists.
I was shocked that I had is for that. So I was not looking for great big songs. When I signed Janis Joplin, I didn't look for great big songs when I turned Bruce Springsteen or Aerosmith or Earth Wind Fire, if you will.
So that. Along when I started our stuff, as I mentioned, I was hungry to be a major label, it was a brand new company that I named Arista after the Honor Society in my high school was called Sourest All New York High School.
And so. There are two coexisting talents. One is your ear for songs. Yep, to. Is your audience discovery it or so that it can accommodate and because of the audience? But I signed at Columbia and the Rock that have got me in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I didn't get it in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because of the songs I found for Barry Manilow or D'Amore or even Britney, if you will. I said so alongside those big songs that I pound for Barry and Deon and ultimately for Whitney, our store attracted the Grateful Dead hours to attract the Kings I signed in January of Stip Records.
I had Lou Reed, Graham Parker, but Patti Smith. Patti Smith, AMAI and our man Bob Phaidon alerted me to our to our own she was and the buzz was beginning. She was different, you need rebellious, bright, literate, irreverent. And I said, I'm not going to audition or Max's Kansas City, I took a small recording studio and I auditioned her and a girl really still looked down, obviously different. Yeah. But. Patti Smith is a genius, and all you've got to do is listen to the lyric, listen to whatever she did.
Jesus died for somebody someone said was not mine, you know, and I didn't look for a hit. I was looking for an original rock and roll and she turned out great Renaissance woman. So, yes, I was a believer.
I signed her. We had a wonderful relationship. But she talked me into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
She's Chisum. She is stupendous. I think Paul Simon is the greatest American songwriter. What do you think?
I will echo that totally. I mean, to me, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Burt Bacharach, those are the three to me. But Paul Simon. An amazing body of work, I mean, just an amazing body of work, I obviously to work with them as Simon and Garfunkel when I was head of Columbia, my life. They're both Paul and Audrey are in my documentary, if you will. I was not there when they were interviewed by Ridley Scott.
I was so touched. Honestly, where are all these decades later for them separately?
They're not on the best of current terms, but separately to remember when they came to play Bridge over Troubled Water for me, the album. And there was so sure that I would pick Cecelia and the first single from that album.
And I remember going into the studio with them and Roy played their engineer producer listening.
And I said, Paul, all the. You are the first single who's got a big bridge over troubled water. Well, they were both shocked at the time. Why do you say that? I said, because you can't prove life in a formula way. Yes, Temple was considered yes. Length. That was over four minutes where the rule was every single had to be under three and a half minutes then.
I submit every so often. If it's a closet, if it's so original, if it's so overpowering, I vote, we go with that because it's a home run I believe in and in my documentary each day we're shot.
And they use that as an example, if you will, how I and dear I became a dear to them because I went to the home run and it obviously proved right.
I mean, that's my my son, who's twenty four, watched The Graduate for the first time this weekend and was just blown away not only by the movie but by the by that soundtrack. And I said, listen, Simon and Garfunkel, they're.
Does it get any bigger or better than them, and then what Paul went on to do on his own just is just spectacular, spectacular talent. He's definitely my Mount Rushmore is getting bigger as we're talking, right?
Deservedly so. Paul is amazing. And he was the first winner, I think, of the recently established Gershwin Prize as just an absolutely first top American songwriter.
Clive, tell me about the Whitney Houston movie that you have in the works.
OK, I've seen the two documentaries that have come out on Whitney, and they were one dimensional, often incorrect.
The public has not seen the full story of Whitney Houston not to whitewash in any way a drug addiction or premature death. Nothing about her speculation, meet them head on. Resolve them with the authenticity, but also. Show a musical genius, also show why she inspired everyone and the best singer of a generation, if not of all time.
So I met about a year ago Anthony McCarten, who's a screenwriter who had written The Theory of Everything and the Darkest Hour. But my biggest credit. Was that he wrote the screenplay for Bohemian Rhapsody, which is now the biggest almost a billion dollars worldwide musical film of all time, and I know that. And he went through my book and my documentary and he came to see me one day and he said.
I know you want so badly for the real legacy, for the real life story, hard hitting, hard breaking. I'll work on it with you. He said it would be my.
My pleasure. OK. And so over the last seven or eight months, I said, look, you can do it, Anthony, until you really steep yourself. I will arrange for you to meet with Pat Houston, Gary Houston time they used to call day, but I even arranged for him to meet with the psychiatrist, which is unusual. But I vouched for Anthony and he met with the custom drugs and our hairstylist so that he Steeg.
In an awareness and then musically, I played him every performance from my Grammy party, my party that I throw the night before the Grammys that become the biggest party in Hollywood, you know, and then she, Pelosi, Tim Cook, everybody, David Hockney comments apart from Quincy Jones and Beyonce and saying it's a marvelous night every year.
And we are first next week going to the studios. Obviously, Sony will have the soundtrack album at the least with a great script. Yep. That Anthony has written with the approval of the estate. And we're looking forward because it's a nightmare period right now, but we're really looking forward to moving ahead with the true full legacy.
Let me ask you this, Clive. Would you rather someone lip sync or or sing? Because like, I look at Coal Miner's daughter, Sissy Spacek. Great movie, she's saying, I look at sweet dreams, Jessica Lange playing Patsy Cline, she did not both great movies. I actually don't think it matters. What would you prefer?
Whitney's voice? There are some voices you can either duplicate or compete with. There's no voice like one thing, and that's the voice that will be heard that makes your casting a lot easier to.
Well, we're looking at the best candidates right now. I can't wait I can't wait to see that I you will remember I was at the Grammy's. This year, I won, it was definitely in the 80s, I want to feel like it was around eighty five, I sat directly behind Michael Jackson. And Whitney came out and she sang at the Grammys, and I remember. Her voice sounded she obviously had a microphone, but I could hear her voice.
It was at the shrine. And it sounded like the only thing I can compare it to is I was lucky enough to sit with Pavarotti in a room and have him sing, and both of their voices came out of their heads, not just their mouths, but it came it felt like it came out of a tube, like it was so powerful and so pure. I've never experienced anything, anything like it, like seeing Whitney live.
Well, I think you'll see it in the movie. Two voices. She one moment in time. And look, we've got. Performances would be unable to get the hours to 15th anniversary. Nineteen ninety four came out in eighty five, but she came out and apart from the singing, the greatest love of all. She's saying, I wanted to dance with somebody and what separates us from the other two great, great, great singers of our lifetime, Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand, she scoured the stage going from one side to another without wanting to dance with somebody.
She growled and she pounded on the tile. She went from one side to the other. So whether it's that or it's not right, but it's OK or how will I know she could do soaring ballads.
But she can also do up tempo dance records that can keep you on your feet all night. She was an incredible once in a lifetime talent.
So if I am, by the way, I agree with you on the three the three women as the greatest singers of our lifetime, who are the three greatest men.
You know, one of well, Sinatra, yeah, I mean, I would give you five or six, I would include Sinatra, Tony Bennett.
Johnny Mathis, I would include Luther Vandross and the one young man and I just had occasion and our mutual friend Richards Zun, that we're going through one this quanti to tell John Legend that he's grown and grown and grown, that his voice is so special and powerful.
He's right up there with Luther, you know. So those are some of the great male candidates, of course. And truth probably in the closet by himself was for Sinatra.
For me, it's just it's the it's the sort of phrasing and the swagger.
It's not there's nothing I don't think about the voice that is I mean, it's great. But it's not it's not like it's not like a Whitney town tune. I mean, I think it's more personality driven to make sense.
Well, let me caution you, not judge everything by power or range. Sinatra. Felt every kind of music, he brought in his own rhythm. He brought his own beat. He was comfortable with jazz, he was comfortable plus.
As soon as you hear the voice, you're not going to be confused as to who is he?
And the reason why all like Bonnano, OK, or the Grateful Dead is they all unique words.
But for Frank Sinatra, I have a couple of questions to finish up. And this has been so great. And I know that you take time out of your beautiful day at Palm Springs. You're a super mensch to do this. And I and I appreciate it.
And I ask my guests these a lot, these questions, and they seem tailor made for you. I did not write these questions for you.
I ask all my guests, but you are the real person. Answer. I need you to give me your top three songs. I know it's going to be hard. They don't have to be yours. They can be. But the top three.
Listen, it's like, if you like, well below.
I don't know why you're asking these questions yet to tell me your top two children. You know, and I know I can't separate songs from Wolpaw.
Of my life, I really can't I mean, all I know is the honest fraud is that I was not associated with.
Let me just give a general and some specificity. For years, my favorite album was The Mamas and Papas. And when they came along and they would do in California Dreamin and those songs during that early rock era, what appealed for Melody? What are you nicknames? Paul Simon, when you hear certainly Bridge Over Troubled Water would be in that top list.
The great Stevie Wonder, as I said, and for Bacharach, the incredible catalog of that. And then those that touch my life, you know, the peace of my heart that broke Joplin. I write the songs that took Manilow to another level, but. It's hard to imagine or think by. Was there anything like the Great American Songbook? Was there anything like Cole Porter? I spent some time with my good friend T.J. Kahn listening to the great SEMICON and Jimmy venues and so on.
So, wow. How do you compare the Great American Songbook and Cole Porter with the bridge over Troubled Water? And I will always love you. I was there. I commissioned the greatest love of all. It was for the movie on the life of Muhammad Ali. And I had Michael Nazo and then do great. And they came up with the song coming out of the movie on Muhammad Ali's life and was called The Greatest Love of All. And I had George Benson record it and it was a top 10 RB go to 19.
But eight years later and I'm auditioning Whitney Houston. And she stepped out as a 19 year old from my mother's out of the blue. I had not even matter. And what song did she audition for? Me in an audience at a club called Sweetwaters in Banat and 150, 200 people. Whitney singing The greatest love of all and breathing, oh, life were feelings, inspiration, then I knew the composers to even know what they are.
Of course it motivated me.
My God, I've got to sign this stunning young woman. Look at her version.
What a genius. And of course, a moment that song twice appearing in my life is very special.
What? Well, I was going to say what is if you've had so many and I know it's an impossible question, but what do you think your favorite life moment is?
Well, let me just tell you my favorite life moment, apart from my family, because I don't include my family, I'll get saddled with therapy bills still right now.
So compared to the birth of my four children, all my eight grandchildren, I would have to say the most gratifying, to paraphrase, was when I was making too much money at our stuff. We're talking of the two thousand and I was making OK in the 20s, millions a year. A German company that owned it thought they could do it. They knew I was at the peak of my career. I had just resigned tention supernatural, becoming the biggest selling album of all time.
My with a great hit smooth. What a hit. Great hits. And so. They financed. Me starting a brand new company. They gave me a one hundred fifty million dollars, the largest company formed ever before, that was in the skull at thirty eight to 40 million. I said I've got to be a major overnight and you got to give me five, multiply them and five new orders to start because I'm not starting from scratch. They agreed one of those orders was holding chickens who agreed to come with me.
She had no record out yet. She was just in the studio and I said plots. And this is what I'm leading up to. I will not offer any executive and arrest of any more than they're currently earning, but I have to be a major company and I've made a list of the 18 from the president to the executive vice president to the ANTM product. All this development, publicity. I said the 18 top executives of Aristo and I can talk to them any more, but I'm going to start J Records with them and they're free to come with me.
And you could offer them anything you want to say. And our store and Rob, 18 out of 18 executives came with me to J.
So when you know, I'm a hard working guy, I've got hard criteria, challenges. But the fact and they were all married with families, every single executive. So overnight. J Records became embarrassed and the fact that all 18 came with me to J.
And of course, it's flowed Alicia and Luther and Busta Rhymes and all the American Idol and the future. That was professionally my most gratifying personal moment.
Well, I would I would follow you anywhere, Clive. I really would. You're. You've always been such so nice to me and such a gentleman and and for a kid from Ohio who's probably first album was Barry Manilow and took so much shit for listening to Barry Manilow and all the other kids were listening to Led Zeppelin. I think it's perfectly fitting that you and I end up here today talking about your your life and your great accomplishments.
I'm a pleasure to be with you and it's always a pleasure to be with you and all those Kenny G is when you were Kenny close, close, close friend.
Yeah, well, Kenny taught me my golf stroke. I my whenever I had a good golf stroke.
It's because I'm a good golfer and when I don't hit a good golf stroke, it's because Kenny taught me how to play golf.
OK, that's the way. All right, Clyde.
Love you, man. Thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it. You've been amazing.
Thank you. Thank you so much, Jean. So. You bet. Thank you.
It's so inspiring to see someone like Clive who still is interested and interesting and engaged and forever young as he is now is the day he went to discover Janis Joplin really, really cool and just honored that he took a minute to be on our silly little podcast.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. You have been listening to literally with Rob Lowe. Produced and engineered by me, Devon Tory, Brian Executive produced by Rob Lowe for low profile Adam Sachs and Jeff Ross at Team Coco and Colin Anderson and Chris Bannon at Stitcher. The supervising producer is Aaron Blair's talent producer, Jennifer Sampas. Please write and review the show on Apple podcast and remember to subscribe on Apple podcast, Stitcher or wherever you get your pockets.
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