Friday, March 1, 2024

Arista Records– Home of Whitney, Aretha, Dionne– Planning A List NYC Reunion Gala


Clive Davis started Arista Records in 1974. He built it on the bones of Bell Records and turned it into a powerhouse for 25 years.

Now I’m told next Saturday Arista will be celebrated in an invite-only reunion gala at the Cutting Room. The party’s been in the works for five months, says Ken Levy, former Arista VP of creative services. “Two hundred people are coming, we’ve had to turn people away, and there are no plus 1s,” Ken tells me.

Clive is coming, so is Dionne Warwick, Alan Parsons, and some members of Crash Test Dummies. (They had a huge one off hit called “Mmmmmm.”) There’s a rumor Aretha Franklin may stop by.

There’s also an Arista Museum being assembled in a separate room. “People are sending in all kinds of artifacts,” Ken told me. “The Whitney Houston estate is bringing some things for display. Eric Carmen is sending things, too.” Carmen had a major solo career on Arista beginning with “All By Myself.” At one time, Arista was home to the Kinks, the Grateful Dead, Carly Simon, Graham Parker, a raft of people from Stiff Records, Lou Reed, Dave Edmunds, and Gil Scott-Heron.

Arista was one of the great sorta indie labels, like A&M and Sire, run by a real music man (Davis) and responsible for launching dozens of famous artists and sending executives out into the record biz. It would have continued past 2000 with Davis except for the shortsightedness of people who came in to run BMG, the larger company. They wrecked it. Davis, however, started J Records, had hits with Alicia Keys, Santana, Rod Stewart, and Jennifer Hudson. The rest is history.

The first Arista hit:

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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