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Clive Davis to Run Merged RCA, J Labels

Bertelsmann says move would 'right the wrong' done to the 68-year-old industry legend.

November 20, 2002|Chuck Philips

Bertelsmann Music Group merged its RCA and J labels Tuesday and called on industry legend Clive Davis to take charge of the new division. The move marks the latest twist in a remarkable career for the 68-year-old Davis, who discovered Santana and Janis Joplin but was told recently that he was too old to work at BMG.

He was driven out of his Arista label three years ago by a team of executives who soon after lost their jobs. Trying to defuse the negative publicity surrounding Davis' treatment, BMG's new management offered him $150 million to launch J, a start-up label consisting primarily of acts that he recruited from his former Arista roster. BMG retained half ownership.

On Tuesday, BMG announced it would buy the other half of J and combine it with RCA -- with Davis running the entire show, to be named RCA-J Records. The terms of the deal are unclear, as is the future of former RCA chief Bob Jamison.

"Today we open a new chapter between BMG and Clive," said BMG Chairman Rolf Schmidt-Holtz. "We right the wrong with this major step."

Davis was ecstatic.

"This is incredibly gratifying," he said. "A ringing affirmation. A great day. A terrific challenge."

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