Monday, April 22, 2024

Exclusive: Clive Davis Confirms Prince Didn’t Like Having No Control Over Cover Versions of His Songs


We’ve been honored to hear from music mogul Clive Davis on the subject of Prince not liking cover versions of his songs.

The subject came up when I wrote about Mariah Carey saying Prince didn’t care for her recording of “The Beautiful Ones.” I guess Carey recorded it without asking his permission. That’s legal. The Compulsory License provision allows anyone to record a song without getting a waiver.

In the cases of Prince covers “I Feel for You,” “Manic Monday,” and “Nothing Compares 2 U,” Prince was thrilled. They were his ideas, and he reaped the financial benefits. But with Mariah, evidently, that was not the case.

Clive Davis writes to us:

“Let me verify that Prince absolutely abhorred the compulsory license statutory provision. When Arista distributed the album “Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic” by Prince (the only album where we joined together), this was his favorite subject. During every call and during any concert we both attended, or dinner we shared, the topic of the “unfair and inequitable compulsory license” not only came up but was dialogued extremely intensely. This was at Prince’s initiation.

“I didn’t at all agree with him and we endlessly went back and forth. He had wanted me to go to Washington DC with him and meet “with Congress” to plead his case. I refused since I was at odds with his position. Then one day Prince called me to say that the reason that he kept bringing the subject up was that he found our dialogue fascinating and he would like us to record our conversations and release it on a CD. I said the CD would bomb since I didn’t believe anyone was interested in this subject except him.            

“Maybe I was right and maybe I was wrong. But I sure wish today I had tapes of those conversations. I would cherish them with much nostalgia and great affection.”

My own PS here: Clive Davis is a treasure in the music business. He’s forgotten more than we’ll ever know!

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.

Read more

In Other News