Each week throughout the month of October, we will be profiling two people from the Equality Forum LGBT History Month icons list who have made a positive impact in their chosen professions. To see Equality Forum’s 2015 icons list, visit lgbthistorymonth.com.
(born April 4, 1932)
Clive Davis was born and raised in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, New York City. After both of his parents died within a year of one another when he was a teenager, he lived with his sister in Queens. He graduated from the New York University College of Arts and Science and Harvard Law School.
At age 28, he was hired as assistant counsel at Columbia Records. After a number of corporate restructurings, he was named vice-president of the company five years later, and president a year after that. One of his biggest coups was signing up a number of bands popular at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival to the Columbia label, including Janis Joplin, Santana, Chicago, and Billy Joel. He also signed Earth, Wind and Fire and Aerosmith to Columbia, doubling the label’s sales figures in just five years.
Davis founded his own record label, Arista, in 1975, and would serve as its CEO for 25 years. Not only did he sign a number of well-known recording artists to their first contracts, he brought over a lot of influential artists, such as Carly Simon and The Grateful Dead, over to the Arista label as well. Perhaps Clive Davis’s biggest “discovery” at Arista was Whitney Houston, who went on to become one of the highest-selling singers in pop history. From 2000 to 2008, he was president of the RCA Music Group, which included Arista Records and J Records, another label he founded.
Clive Davis came out as bisexual in 2013 in his autobiography, called The Soundtrack of My Life. Although he had been married to two women in the past, having four children between them, his relationships over the past 25 years have exclusively been with men. In an interview with Katie Couric, Davis said he came out at his age to help lead to “greater understanding of what bisexuality is.”
(born July 26, 1943)
Mick Jagger was raised in Dartford, Kent, England. From the age of seven, one of his classmates, and eventual best friend, was Keith Richards. After leaving school at the age of eighteen, Jagger and Richards moved to London and became friends with Brian Jones. They performed at their first London club in the summer of 1962 under the name “Rollin’ Stones.” This would of course be tweaked to “The Rolling Stones.” The group was named after a Muddy Waters song which all of the boys liked.
Over the next two years, they became one of the hottest underground bands in England, and in popularity poll, The Rolling Stones were considered more popular than The Beatles, who already had a record deal. The song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, released in 1965, cemented their popularity at home and abroad. They would go on to release three more successful albums throughout the 1960s, and would continue touring and releasing new material in the 1970s as well.
While still touring with the Stones, Jagger wanted to start a solo career of his own, so he recorded his first solo album, She’s the Boss, in 1985. The song “Just Another Night” would be his first solo Top Ten hit. His next two solo albums didn’t fare as well. He would have more success reuniting with the Stones for reunion tours in 2002 and 2007. He performed with the Stones for the very first time at the trendy Glastonbury festival in Somerset, England in 2013.
Jagger, as one of the top musical influences on the culture of the 1960s and 1970s, experimented with quite a few things in his personal life. His sexual fluidity caused him to be linked to other pop music artists such as David Bowie and Pete Townshend. For his part, he has never discussed his current sexuality at length. He was once married to models Bianca Jagger and Jerry Hall.
Read more LGBT History Month profiles all month long in the pages of Hotspots!