Clive Davis is the music industry’s most innovative, outspoken and influential executive. He has had a profound effect on the world of music, acting as both its champion and its critic. Clive Davis’ contributions to music are, to a large extent, responsible for the scope and flavor of the industry today. His influence is also responsible for shaping much of the Niswonger 19-20 Season as the music of four of his landmark artists are represented - Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, Neil Diamond and Melissa Manchester.

Early in his career, Davis was named President of Columbia Records. The Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967 confirmed what Davis had been feeling about rock: the new music was the powerful artistic expression of an emerging culture. Clive was at the musical forefront of that change. His first act was to personally sign Janis Joplin to Columbia. He then went on to revolutionize the rock n’ roll style by signing Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Santana, Boz Scaggs, Loggins & Messina, Laura Nyro, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith and Earth, Wind and Fire. In addition to bringing this fresh, brand new talent to Columbia, he signed such artists as Neil Diamond, Pink Floyd, Herbie Hancock and The Isley Brothers.

While building the rock roster, he also achieved historic success in the areas of R&B, Country, Jazz and Pop music. He played a key role in the careers of Simon & Garfunkel, Sly & The Family Stone, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand and Andy Williams.

Davis left Columbia Records in May 1973 and then founded Arista Records in the fall of 1974. The Arista Records industry dominance began immediately. Only three months after the company opened its doors Barry Manilow’s smash hit “Mandy”, found by and named by Davis, went straight to #1.

Under Davis’ leadership, Arista launched the careers of Whitney Houston, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, Kenny G, Sarah McLachlan, Monica and Dido. The label also attracted such important artists as Aretha Franklin, The Grateful Dead, The Kinks, Lou Reed, Eurythmics, Dionne Warwick, Daryl Hall & John Oates, and Carly Simon.

Arista’s Nashville division began in 1988 and quickly became the talk of the industry with the discovery of a stellar lineup of stars led by Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Diamond Rio, Pam Tillis and Brad Paisley. With over 150 major industry awards Arista-Nashville set the pace for country music.

For a stronger presence in R&B, Davis partnered with L.A. Reid and Babyface to form LaFace Records in October 1989. During this time, LaFace built an outstanding roster of hitmaking artists including TLC, Toni Braxton, Usher, OutKast, and Pink. Then in 1994, Davis and producer/entrepreneur Sean “Puffy” Combs entered into a 50/50 joint venture that resulted in the creation of Bad Boy Records with an artist roster that grew to include Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, Mase, 112 and of course Puffy Combs. Along with LaFace Records, Bad Boy became the most successful Hip-Hop and Rap label of the ’90s, with a shelf full of Grammy, “Soul Train” and other industry awards.

Clive Davis’ impact on music as we know it has been monumental. This great icon, “The Man With The Golden Ear,” was always looking for something out of the ordinary. He sought after the “special” talent and introduced the world to new genres of music. The Niswonger mission models the approach of Clive Davis. The VWAPAF Board and Staff endeavors to find the “special” something that will entice an audience to listen to LIVE music. Thankfully, Clive has done much of the work for us and we are grateful to showcase his artists - and/or the ground breaking music of his artists - on YOUR stage of Inspiration in Van Wert, Ohio.