Documentary delves into life of music pioneer Clive Davis
With a career spanning more than five decades, Davis' life provided an incredible tour of the most sensational music of the cultural revolution, from the "60s to the rise of hip-hop".
One has to assume that was part of the logic that led to the selection of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, a new documentary about the career of the 85 year old record executive, as the opening night film of this year's Tribeca Film Festival. The music mogul has signed, influenced and driven the careers of numerous most important music artists of the 20th and 21st centuries including Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Santana, Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, Alicia Keys, Sean "Puffy" Combs, and many more.
When we get to Houston's death, the film starts to feel like a documentary on her life instead of Davis'. In addition to footage of Houston's first television appearance, a 1985 performance on The Merv Griffin Show, The Soundtrack of My Life includes an early demo of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" that Davis says in the film would have been fine for an artist like Olivia Newton-John. The screening ended and a curtain went up to reveal Manilow at his piano, backed by a large band, as he played hits like "Copacabana" and "Looks Like We Made It". Soon after, Jennifer Hudson took the stage to perform a medley of Whitney Houston's biggest hits.
Earth, Wind and Fire also ran through some R&B classics, including "The Way You Move" (assisted by easy-listening legend Kenny G), while Dionne Warwick added some soft soul with "I'll Never Love This Way Again", and "That's What Friends are For".
And then, of course, came Franklin, locks and dress flowing, songs reaching melismatic heights as she performed elaborate versions of "Natural Woman" and "Freeway of Love". She also called her longtime collaborator a "chieftain" and "humanitarian".
Davis became president of Columbia Records at the age of 35.
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