Clive Davis and Whitney Houston

Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Dept. of Musical Genius


The name Clive Davis may not be immediately recognisable to you, but as the president of Columbia Records, Arista Records, the CEO of RCA Music Group, of BMG North America, and finally the Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment, you would agree that he has quite the resume.

You may also know some of the people he’s worked with over the years: Janis Joplin, Santana, Bruce Springsteen, Chicago, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Alicia Keys, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, The Notorious B.I.G. 

His is a career that has truly created the soundtrack to many lives across several generations.

Clive Davis and Janis Joplin, his first major artist

Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives is not so much a cradle-to-grave – or in this case, cradle-to-2017 – story of Davis, but rather a primer to his life and career. At just over 2 hours, the documentary jumps from one music moment in Davis’ life to the next, without ever really delving too much into the details. Stories are shared by notable personalities (and Simon Cowell), although in a music career spanning 60 years, not every interesting story can be put to tape. It’ll be worth checking out his official autobiography “The Soundtrack of My Life” to see if more details can be found there.

Clive Davis and Whitney Houston in Clive Davis The Soundtrack of Our Lives

The one musician that did feature prominently was Whitney Houston. Whitney Houston holds a special place in Davis’ heart, with him being truly broken up over what eventually happened to her. So much so that you can almost see Davis ask himself if he should have done more to help. Or if he even could have. 

Ultimately, Davis’ ear for hits, and his ability to match those hits to the right musician, was and still is astounding. Irrespective of whether or not you’re a fan of Westlife, you can’t ignore the fact that Clive Davis was someone who always had his finger on the pulse, and a feel for the undercurrent of music popularity. The other big takeaway is Davis’ range for music. From Barry Manilow to Patti Smith, from Ace of Base to Air Supply, TLC, Usher, and Outkast, Pink, Tony Braxton, and LFO, Davis’ ability to see (or hear in his case) where the wind of popular culture will blow, has been nothing short of magic. 

Clive Davis in Clive Davis The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives is the greatest hits collection about the professional life of a man who, as Jason Hollander wrote in a 2011 issue of the NYU alumni magazine, really did have platinum ears. It is a good enough watch about someone who you may not know, but have definitely heard of.

Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our Lives is available now on Netflix.

Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives
124 minutes
Director: Chris Perkel
Cast: Clive Davis, Simon Cowell, Jimmy Iovine, Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs, Barry Gordy, L.A. Reid, Carlos Santana, Bruce Springsteen, Barry Manilow, and Aretha Franklin

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

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