Goodbye, Clive. Hello, "L.A."
Looks like Arista Records' recent "tribute" to legendary hitmaker Clive Davis was more like a going-away party.
After months of speculation that the label's embattled president and founder was on the outs, Arista parent company BMG announced today that Antonio "L.A." Reid will replace Davis as president and CEO. Reid, who cofounded LaFace Records and launched the careers of TLC, Toni Braxton and Usher, will replace Davis when his contract expires at the end of June.
Reid had been the rumored successor to Davis, 67, who, over the past 25 years, built up the label by nabbing legends like Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, The Artist and Carlos Santana. Davis had publicly feuded with BMG over its plans to replace him with someone younger, and Arista's artists promptly rushed to his defence. But the axe still fell.
"Antonio brings to Arista an inspired track record as a businessman, Grammy award-winning producer and deeply committed record man," BMG President and CEO Strauss Zelnick said in a statement. "As cofounder and copresident of LaFace Records, he has created a music powerhouse and helped develop some of today's top pop and R&B artists."
BMG also announced that LaFace Records will be consolidated with Arista, but will hold onto its own imprint and will remain in its Atlanta home. Meanwhile, Reid's cohort at LaFace, soulster Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, also has entered into a joint venture with Arista to form a new record label, with a name to be announced later.
Prior to founding LaFace, Reid and Babyface were the masterminds behind 33 number one singles, winning three Grammy awards for their work. The team wrote and produced tunes for Houston, Boys II Men, Bobby Brown and Paula Abdul.
Reid's take-over of the Davis dynasty comes just as Arista ended one of its best years ever. The label posted $425 million in sales during the first nine months of the fiscal year--in part due to the massive success of veteran rocker Santana's Supernatural disc, which has sold more than 16 million copies. Santana also swept this year's Grammy Awards, during which he praised Davis for believing in him--despite his age.
"A lot of people told me they didn't want to work with me because I'm old," he said backstage. "Mr. Davis believed in me. We both believed we had a masterpiece in our belly."
Davis, meanwhile, believes he has his own masterpiece in the works. He's been talking with other labels, including BMG, about a reported $225 million proposal to start a new entertainment conglomerate. BMG reps say negotiations regarding his proposal are ongoing.
In a statement released after the announcement, Davis said he was disappointed about BMG's decision, but emphasized that he plans to move forward with his new company.
"It's time now to turn to a new and vital chapter in this fast changing world of music," the statement reads. "This new chapter couldn't come at a better time, and we will decide among the very substantial offers we've received to begin business in September."
Of course, you can see Clive and Arista happily reunited when NBC airs the pre-recorded Arista Records' 25th Anniversary tribute to Davis on May 15.
[Thanks Neil C]
NEWSFILE: 3 MAY 2000
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