Since Aretha Franklin left Atlantic Records in 1979, many of her most successful records have been executive-produced by Clive Davis

Since Aretha Franklin left Atlantic Records in 1979, many of her most successful records have been executive-produced by Clive Davis

Clive Davis is the rare music mogul who is beloved by artists as well as the corporate executives and shareholders who have profited from his unrivaled talent as a hit-maker. Over the past 50 years he has shepherded the careers of musicians as diverse as Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Kenny G, Patti Smith, Alicia Keys, Barry Manilow, Aerosmith and The Notorious B.I.G., while leading not one but three record companies to extraordinary success.

In Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, filmmaker Chris Perkel (The Town that Was) explores the triumphs and tragedies that have shaped Davis’ astonishing life and career. The film combines original interviews with more than 50 top artists, executives, journalists and others with spectacular rare and unseen footage of performances by some of the most iconic musical acts of the past half century.

Orphaned while still in his teens, Davis has a relentless drive for achievement that pushes him to earn a scholarship to Harvard Law School and finds him, by age 34, leading one of the world’s major record companies. Quickly discovering he has a unique ability to identify the singers and songs that resonate with audiences, he turns jazz- and classical-focused Columbia Records into a rock and pop powerhouse. But despite the unprecedented success he brings to the label, he is fired by Columbia in 1973 over a financial scandal for which he is later exonerated. Recovering from this crushing blow, Davis forms Arista Records, where he launches the careers of Patti Smith, Kenny G, Sarah McLachlan, Barry Manilow and countless others and re-energizes the careers of Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, the Kinks and the Grateful Dead. But Clive’s high point at Arista comes in 1983 when he signs 19-year-old Whitney Houston, who goes on to become one of the biggest selling artists in history.

After being pushed out of the company he built to the shock and dismay of many in the music industry, Davis in 2000 forms yet another successful record company, J Records, which releases a string of hits by artists including Alicia Keys, Maroon 5, Annie Lennox, Luther Vandross, Rod Stewart, Jennifer Hudson and Leona Lewis.

Despite career setbacks and painful personal losses, including Houston’s tragic death in 2012, at age 85 Davis retains the generosity of spirit and passion for life that have made him such a revered figure in the music industry for more than a half century. The inspiring and fascinating story of the most influential record executive of all time, Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives is a celebration of a man driven by his love of music and musicians. 

Distributed in select theaters around the U.S.A. by Abramorama, Apple Music and IM Global Present a Scott Free Production Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Directed and edited by Chris Perkel. Produced by Michael Bernstein. Director of photography is Kenny Stoff. Assistant Editor is Blake Everhart. Executive producers are Stuart Ford, David Schulhof, Deborah Zipser, Ridley Scott and Mary Lisio.