Quantcast
LAW FIRM TO LABEL:
CLIVE AND WALTER

Walter Yetnikoff, born and raised in Brooklyn, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brooklyn College in 1953. After earning a law degree from Columbia University, he landed a job at Rosenman & Colin, a prestigious firm that represented CBS Inc. founder William Paley and CBS Records. One of his colleagues was another Brooklynite, Clive Davis.

The two young lawyers became friends as they practiced together at the Rosenman firm and commuted from Long Island to Manhattan by train every weekday, neither having any idea how their career paths would converge and continue to mirror each other.

At that point, Walter had no interest in the record business. “I wanted to practice law with a capital L,” he told Mike Sigman in HITSHistory of the Music Biz 2. “But one day I was doing a file search at CBS Records, and all of a sudden, someone said, ‘That’s enough.’ The lights went down, the music went up, the booze came out and the girls were walking around. I thought, this is a much more interesting place than a law firm.”

In 1961, Clive was hired by CBS exec Harvey Schein, a former colleague at R&C, as Assistant Counsel in the law department of Columbia Records; he became General Counsel at the age of 29 the following year.

It was around that time that Clive recruited Walter to join him. When Clive moved up to an administrative post at CBS, Walter was named General Counsel.

In 1965, Columbia Records Group President Goddard Lieberson appointed Davis as Administrative Vice President and General Manager. In 1966, CBS formed the Columbia-CBS Group, with Davis heading CBS Records; a year later, he was formally made President.

In 1969, Yetnikoff moved from legal to CBS Records International as EVP, ascending to the presidency of the division two years later.

After a historic run during a transformative era for music and culture, Davis was fired from CBS in 1973, after being accused of using company funds to pay for his son’s bar mitzvah. But he rebounded in 1974, writing the book, Clive: Inside the Record Business, and hooking up with Columbia Pictures (unconnected with Columbia Records) and founding Arista Records out of what had been ColPix’s Bell label, and beginning the next chapter of his remarkable career.

Paley named Yetnikoff President/CEO of CBS Records in 1975. After a wild—and wildly lucrative—15-year ride, he was sacked by Sony (whose 1987 acquisition of CBS he’d helped orchestrate) and given a $25 million severance.

Walter never returned to the record business, but, like Clive before him, he wrote a book, Howling at the Moon: Confessions of a Music Mogul in an Age of Excess, with David Ritz, which was published in 2004.

 

 

 

JESUS IS COMING—REALLY
Your skepticism is understandable, given recent history. (10/21a)
STRUNG OUT
ON STRINGS
KG is happy for a change. (10/21a)
U.K. MIDWEEKS: A BATTLE FOR #1
Sometimes our two countries seem quite distinct from each other taste-wise. (10/21a)
JESUS IS COMING—REALLY
But shouldn't "is" have an initial cap? (10/21a)
TOP 50 CHART: THIS THING IS BROKE
Never...again (10/21a)
RIHANNA PREPARES TO RULE THE ROOST
What shoes go with dancehall?
WHAT'S NEXT FOR R&B?
How certain projects connect at streaming.
THE K-POP LANDSCAPE
농담은 한국어에서 더 잘 작동합니다.
THE NEW GRAMMY POWER
Change is nigh.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)