Clive Davis‘s annual all star dinner was full of performance thrills. But it also had bittersweet moments. It opened with Magic Johnson asking the audience to take a moment of prayer for Whitney Houston‘s daughter, Bobbi Kristina. It was a tearful few seconds as the celebrity crowd recalled Houston’s death three years ago this week, just hours before the 2012 dinner. Melissa Rivers also came as a guest of Davis’s, as Clive remembered her mother, Joan Rivers, a regular guest at this annual soiree.
The evening also marked the low key return of Chris Brown. He was last at the Davis party in 2009. That night, he and Rihanna left early and wound up in their now infamous domestic scuffle. But Brown was on his best behavior among a crowd of guests that also included Gladys Knight, Indie Arie, Toni Braxton, Jordin Sparks, and Janelle Monae.
But then it was a night of celebration with hit after hit sung by star after star and a sharp band led by Rickey Minor. The great Joni Mitchell blew air kisses to Clive and then the show began. Sam Smith came on and started it with a soulful “My Funny Valentine” and then performed his mega hit, “Stay With Me.” The British boy wonder quipped, “Is everyone excited? I’m shittin’ myself.”
Motown great Smokey Robinson was next with ‘My Girl,’ helped by superstar Miguel, a game Jamie Foxx, and Earth Wind and Fire’s Philip Bailey who chimed in from the audience. Mary J. Blige, in shimmering gold and sounding truly amazing, sang “Being with You” with Smokey and then gave an impassioned rendition of her intense new hit, ‘Doubt.’
Clive came to the podium on to a rousing ovation and told the crowd, “this is always an
amazing night and it never gets old, and it shouldn’t ever get old.” Clive then spoke about the history of this famed soiree, which is in its 39th year. He pointed out some VIP’s in the audience including the professional facetious Kathy Griffin, who earlier told me, “I’m having a great time on Fashion Police, but half the bitches in this room are mad at me.” Music industry VIP’s Irving Azoff, Lucian Grainge, and Michael Rapino all got shout-outs, and Clive lauded famed producer Richard Perry for his Special Merits Trustees award, given out earlier by the Grammys. He gave kudos to Joan Collins on the occasion of her being dubbed a Dame by Queen Elizabeth, then introduced the legendary crooner Johnny Mathis.
Davis said: “He doesn’t appear in public much anymore, but here he is 50 years after his debut.” Mathis had told me earlier that he hadn’t been performing much lately. “I love to golf, that takes up a lot of my time.” Johnny sang and the crowd went crazy. He started with “Chances Are,” then “Wonderful, Wonderful,” and ended with “Misty.” That was the first standing ovation of the night. And who led it? The best behaved and the biggest fans of the night, Taylor Swift’s table with the Haim girls, and Miley Cyrus. Miley and Taylor both were class acts all night. They showed respect, led the standing ovations and sang along to each and every artist.
But the two Miley and Taylor were most excited about were Mathis and later Carole King. Carole, the ageless songstress she is, sang, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘You Got A Friend,’ which John Legend and Mary J helped with from the audience. Pharrell followed with “Get Lucky.”
Then a first happened at a Clive party. The schedule called for the honor for Sony Music Publisher Martin Bandier. So the video voice over of Bob Costas started. But the audience had only one thing on their minds, and that was for Pharrell to sing his gigantic hit, “Happy” — which they would not stop chanting. A somewhat confused Pharrell was on the stage and quipped, “This is definitely one of the most awkward moments.”
As confusion reigned for the next 30 seconds, Grammy CEO Neil Portnow took the mic and said, “Pharrell, if you are happy, we are happy.” So Pharrell and band winged a spirited version of the hit song.
Bandier then accepted his award, after a hilarious video with appearances by a biting Susie Essman, Sting, Taylor Swift and the aforementioned Pharrell. The video showed Marty advising Pharrell not to do
“Happy,” but do a song instead called ‘Anxiety,” since Marty said, “most people are sick to death of happiness.”
Performances by Iggy Azalea, Rita Ora, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend and Meghan Trainor followed. The Bee Gees’ only surviving brother Barry Gibb ended the night with a moving take on the band’s most covered hit, “To Love Somebody.” After the party ended at the stroke of midnight, the VIPS still mingled. Davis, 82, did it again– miraculously. His parties will be remembered as legendary years from now. Now we are all waiting for the 40th one next year!