[New York Daily News Article]
Music Is Over For Davis at Arista
By PHYLLIS FURMAN
Daily News Business Writer
Music legend Clive Davis who catapulted such superstars as Whitney Houston, Billy Joel and
Carlos Santana was officially replaced yesterday at the helm of Arista Records by Antonio
Davis, 67, who helped shape the hottest trends in the music business over the past four
decades, is expected to announce within a few weeks his plans to start a new label that
could include Kenny G, Aretha Franklin and Barry Manilow.
Davis' departure from the company he founded 25 years ago ends a contentious battle that
began in November, when Arista parent BMG Entertainment moved to replace him with Reid,
the 43-year-old co-president of Atlanta's La Face Records, the home of pop star Toni
Braxton, chart-topping girl group TLC and R&B sensation Usher.
Davis was forced to move on after BMG decided it needed a younger exec, igniting the
battle between BMG chief Strauss Zelnick and Davis. As part of Reid's hiring, BMG
will acquire the 50% of La Face that it does not already own for an estimated $100
"My goal is to maintain the legacy of Clive Davis," Reid told the Daily News.
"I hope Clive will be very proud of this label."
In a statement, Davis made no mention of Reid but said he is "fully prepared for and
excited by the unique challenge of creating an unprecedented instant major record
While Davis' exit from Arista's top post initially spawned an outpouring of anger from the
music industry, music executives said yesterday that BMG made the right choice in choosing
Reid as his successor.
A Grammy Award winning producer who founded La Face with famed songwriter Kenneth
(Babyface) Edmonds, Reid represents a rare mix of business smarts and creative talent,
music insiders said.
"He has first-hand experience as a producer and he knows the process, he lived
it," said Def Jam chairman Russell Simmons, a close friend of Reid and Davis who
vacations with them every Christmas in St. Barts.
A drummer in high school, Reid made a name for himself in the music business as a
sought-after producer for the likes of Houston, her husband, Bobby Brown, and Boyz II Men.
It was Davis who gave Reid and Edmonds a shot at becoming record moguls, financing the
1989 creation of La Face - La for L.A. and Face for Babyface.
During the last decade, Reid and Edmonds created a rhythm and blues powerhouse that's been
called the Motown of the 1990s, churning out sales of $100 million last year.
"L.A. discovered Toni Braxton and put her on the 'Boomerang' soundtrack," said
Danyel Smith, former editor in chief of Vibe Magazine who's now at Time Inc. "Clive
can hear a hit and L.A. can hear a hit."
The new Arista chief is in talks with several senior music managers about joining him,
including Atlantic Records general manager Ron Shapiro, who's being courted for the No. 2
slot at Arista, and Columbia Records executive vice president Jerry Blair. Both declined
The torch is passing at Arista just weeks before Davis is set to mark the label's 25th
anniversary with a special broadcast May 15 on NBC. "Clive wanted to continue,"
Simmons said. "It's sort of a sad day."
NEWSFILE: 4 MAY 2000