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1960: Joined legal department of Columbia Records as a contract lawyer, where one of his first jobs was to renegotiate Bob Dylan’s contract, which had apparently become void after the singer had turned 21.
A CLIVE DAVIS TIMELINE
A Look Back on the Career of the Legendary Industry Exec
April 4, 1932: Born to a working class Jewish-American family in Brooklyn, named Clive by his mother, who was a great fan of a British actor with that name.

1953: Graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from NYU, earning a scholarship to Harvard Law School.

1955: Joined the firm of Rosenman, Colin, Kaye, Petschek and Freund, where he’s given CBS Records as a client.

1960: Joined legal department of Columbia Records as a contract lawyer, where one of his first jobs was to renegotiate Bob Dylan’s contract, which had apparently become void after the singer had turned 21. His success in that attracted the eye of legendary CBS Records boss Goddard Lieberson, who took the young attorney under his wing.

1967: Became President of Columbia Records and attended Monterey Pop Festival that June, signing Janis Joplin, Laura Nyro, Santana, Chambers Brothers, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Chicago and Billy Joel.

1972: Signed Earth, Wind & Fire and Aerosmith, is fired by CBS amid government investigations of financial irregularities in the record industry, charging that he used company money for personal expenses.

1973: Hired by Columbia Pictures as a consultant for company’s record and music operations, wrote his best-selling memoir, modestly titled Clive: Inside the Record Business.

1974: Named President of Columbia Pictures’ record and music division, merging the various labels—Colpix Records, Colgems Records and Bell Records—into one, Arista Records, named after the N.Y.C. secondary school honor society of which he was a member.

1974-2000: Scored hits with Whitney Houston, Barry Manilow, Dionne Warwick, Monica, Sarah McLachlan, Annie Lennox, Kenny G, Notorious B.I.G., Aretha Franklin, Toni Braxton, Air Supply, Ace of Base, Milli Vanilli, The Grateful Dead, The Kinks, Willie Nile, Lou Reed and Patti Smith, among many others.

1976: Clive held his very first pre-Grammy party the night before the annual Awards ceremony, a tradition that remains to the present.

2000: BMG tried to force Davis into voluntary retirement, replacing him with Antonio “L.A.” Reid as head of Arista. After an outcry from industry and artists alike, the Germans backtrack by funding his own label, J Records (after his middle name Jay), with an initial investment of $150 million. His first signings included Monica, Luther Vandross and Alicia Keys. That same year, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the non-performers branch and earned three Grammys, including Best Rock Album and Album of the Year for producing Carlos Santana’s Supernatural. NBC aired the two-hour, prime-time special 25 Years of #1 Hits: Arista Records Anniversary Celebration.

2002: American Idol debuted, launching its relationship with BMG to distribute winners’ albums. Davis became personally involved in the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, Jordin Sparks, Clay Aiken, etc.

2003: BMG named Davis head of RCA Records, which now includes both his old label, Arista, and his new one, J Records. Donated money to the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU to create the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music.

2004: Promoted to Chairman/CEO of BMG North America, overseeing J, Arista, RCA and Jive Records.

2006: Won Best Pop Vocal Album Grammy for producing Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway.

2008: Named Chief Creative Officer for Sony BMG Music Entertainment, with ex-Zomba Label Group head Barry Weiss taking over as Chairman/CEO BMG N.A. His latest diva, Leona Lewis, debuts at #1 on HITS Album chart.

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