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Stars and recording artists showed up in force for the premiere of Apple Music’s documentary Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
“Clive Davis will always be relevant because he’s very forward-thinking. He’s never behind, he’s ahead,” said Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind & Fire on the black carpet outside the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.
Naturally, all of the artists in attendance sang the music mogul’s praises. When asked about Davis’ greatest achievement, Carlos Santana couldn’t pick just one: “Vision. Tenacity. Conviction,” the legendary guitarist told The Hollywood Reporter. “And he trusts his heart. He can see someone, hear someone, and know if that person is going to go — as they say today — viral.”
The biggest challenge for director Chris Perkel in telling Davis’ story? “Consolidating it into a two-hour documentary,” the filmmaker said of editing 14 hours’ worth of interviews with Davis — not to mention the likes of Jimmy Iovine, Sean Combs and Simon Cowell, who is quoted onscreen as saying, “Deep down, we all wanted to be Clive Davis.”
As the movie showcases, the mogul’s 50-year career has been bookended by the drug-related deaths of arguably his two most talented discoveries, Janis Joplin and Whitney Houston — both of whom died alone in Los Angeles hotel rooms.
Davis spoke about his relationship with Houston on the carpet. “Of course I have great regret,” he told THR. “The greatest regret is her premature death. She and I were professionally collaborators. So, in this sad tale of an early death of a wonderful woman, the tabloid version is not the full version of Whitney. You will see the full version of Whitney in this film tonight.”
The Soundtrack of Our Lives also ventures into the private life of Davis, who has emerged as an unlikely advocate for bisexuality as a senior citizen.
“It’s very important from Clive’s perspective that it be understood that he’s bisexual,” Perkel told THR. “He felt like for the longest time you were either gay, straight or lying — and people still think that way — so from his point of view, his sexuality was not definitional. It’s fluid, much like his musical career. One thing I love so much about Clive is just how wide open he is and not bound by identity politics.”
After the screening ended, Davis received a standing ovation and the crowd headed over to Cecconi’s for a late-night “celebration,” as the host called it, as early reviews have been glowing. “The New York Times, The LA Times of tomorrow just came out, and it’s like a Broadway show,” Davis said of the positive buzz. “Wow!”
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