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Tony Cartmill

Bi Bi Clive, Bye Bye Happiness?

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Eric,

You are such a gracious man and you have been so candid about how the bus actually works. I appreciate and love your comments but at the same time I feel that you have been handed such a raw deal due to this man. It still kind of makes me very angry with him just because I love your voice, music and talent.

Thanks for at least coming back here to us!!

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Clive, as in Davis, was on the O'Reilly Factor last night. Just a short interview. No certain "someone" was mentioned, much to my dismay,(and I know you all are thinking "She must mean 'Barry Manilow!'" Because you all know how he makes me all "tingly" inside, as a man should and only Barry can. wink ). However the interview is interesting all the same. smile

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Art   

I watched that, Wendy-Ann, and was also hoping Clive would mention Eric. But glad he didn't discuss Barry Manilow...that guy is creepy!

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ECatw   

Hey Wendy!

Thanks for sharing that snippet with us.

This has been a very interesting thread. I had a tiny inkling of how nasty the music business is but I had no idea how bad it could really be. I guess when there is power to be had and egos the size of stadiums, the people in charge can do anything on their whim.

Eric- thanks for sharing your insight on your past dealings with these sharks wearing a smile.

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I was running a record store in New Jersey, and we were one of the stores Billboard magazine called every week to find out what was selling. That meant promo men were always phoning and visiting asking you to promote this artist or that, whether the artist was actually selling or not. In return these pitchmen would always ask what they could do for you. Usually it was free records or concert tickets, or maybe an in store appearance from an Artist. In my case, I asked for an advance copy of the new Eric Carmen album I had heard was on the way. I’ll never forget the day the promo guy came into the store with a cassette copy of Tonight You’re Mine and played me It Hurts Too Much. I was knocked out… it was the greatest song Billy Joel never wrote… sort of a cross between “Say Goodbye To Hollywood†and something Meatloaf would have done during his Bat Out Of Hell days. Bombastic… with monster hooks, that huge sax solo in the middle… massive thundering drums… a screaming hot vocal from Eric, and Hit Record production complete with castanets and trademark Eric false ending. I never heard a bigger no brainer hit.

Now I know for a fact that Arista had tried hard to promote Boats. Radio stations in New York were playing whole sides of the album uninterrupted. Remember when stations used to do that with a hot release? There were listening parties, another relic of a bygone era. I just think the public was expecting another serving of delicious pop confection as only Eric (and maybe Brian Wilson) can deliver, and didn’t know what to make of a lower key and beautifully romantic concept album, no matter how brilliant.

But that promo guy told me that day in the store (I’ll never forget it) that due to a management change at the label… Arista would NOT be promoting the Tonight album. It being a success would make the old hierarchy look good and the new brass look bad. It made me quite angry at the time. I also read somewhere that Clive Davis was none to happy that Eric had delivered a Rock and Roll album but can’t confirm that 100%.

This all dovetails perfectly with what Eric wrote in his post. And it happened all over again with the Geffen album. Things were going great and all of a sudden word mysteriously started getting around (or was passed) that “Lips†sounded too much like “Fire.†Game set and match… Geffen immediately stopped promoting a record that was selling quite well and a single that was rapidly approaching the top forty with a bullet.

I can’t even imagine the frustration of having your livelihood affected by politics like that. On the bright side, there’s something very cool about Eric’s musical lifework. How many other artists have a career that has spanned decades… tons of hits.. a standard right up there with “Yesterday†and more lives than a cat. Still respected by everybody who knows good music… revered by many of the great artists of our day, and still able to go to dinner without being hounded by paparazzi? Maybe E was not so unlucky after all?

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darlene   

Hi Brian! What a fabulous look at the story from your perspective! LOVE it! It's unbelievable how a couple of bad decisions can sabatoge a great album and a great artist. Your story is the perfect complement to Eric's. Fantastic post and what a great point of view!

:)--Dar

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MikeC   

Hello, Brian.

I was so glad to read Eric's version of what was going on, in those days. Just in the small amount of reading of Clive's book, it seemed like he and the P R department hoped that Eric would contimue being a Rock Idol.

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elle4ec   

Thanks for sharing this blog archive, Eric! It's affirming to find others recognize the way Clive and other members of the music industry have played the "Artist Game" through the years, and how the trickle down effect of some of those strategic decisions have ultimately effected the accessibility of the overall quality of the music of today.

I'll bet Mr. Lefsetz would have read with great interest the similarities in your struggles with Clive through the years.

I especially love Mr. Lefsetz's final paragraph:

"After he dies, Clive will be forgotten. But great records live on forever. And great records are created from deep down in one’s soul, when one is free, without limits. Oftentimes these are not Top Forty records, although sometimes they are, like Brian Wilson’s "Good Vibrations". But one thing’s for sure, it’s these limit-testing songs that are remembered, not the fodder for the machine. Will Kelly Clarkson ever release timeless material? One thing I can guarantee you, not if Clive Davis is in control."

So true. Ultimately, the real winners here are those who aren't afraid to peer "Behind The Music", digging a little deeper then the promotional material will allow, and finding the timeless treasures that restore our faith and love in the authentic quality of the musical material found through the works of talented artists such as yourself.

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Ain't been hitting the site as much as I used to, but damn glad I found this thread... (with a hint from EC on Facebook...) Incredible reading...

In a nutshell, Clive sounds like the classic example of the old axiom... "Do something, even if it's wrong..."

Seems like his "input" doesn't necessarily insure a record is better, but gives him the ability to say "I helped make this..." but if it destroys the record... or the spirit of the artist... he can just step back and say that it just wasn't a good record... A no-win for the artist and a no-lose for him...

Eric; the insight you give to us regarding the history of your career, especially as it dealt with Clive... a priceless treasure... I agree with previous sentiments, you should right a book... something more from your perspective... annecdotal or what-not, I'm sure you could "draft" Bernie and/or Ken if you wanted co-authors. laugh

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I just read the Bob Lefsetz letter, and all I can say is BRAVO!!!

He hit the nail on the head.

The problem is, there is nobody in a position to dethrone Davis.

As long as he gets to be the "king" of Arista,and the music business, there will never be a change.

Pj

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Eric:

Thanks for a very interesting insight into the workings of the record business. I see CD has been making the rounds touting his book. Indeed, he probably is the last of a shrinking breed. What a tough business. Whenever you pit art vs. business, you can be sure it will be art that probably loses. I appreciate your candor in a couple of your tunes about the business: e.g. No Hard Feelings, Everything. For a brief moment, you are letting your fans inside to see the way you feel about your music, your friends and the way "things" go. I finally see things differently at 63 y.o. - ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Peace and harmony to you, Mark in New Hampshire. (PS - what an awesome setting the R&R Hall of Fame is. Stop there every single time I drive through! smile )

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