Clive Davis speaks at the pre-Grammy gala, revealing the final performer of the evening4 min read
The Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala — better known as the “Clive Party” — is a fest like no other, a place where you’ll find Bey and Jay at one table and Barbra Streisand and Nancy Pelosi at the next, where you’re the world’s most Seeing completely unique performances by some of the biggest stars: Highlights we’ve seen over the years include Brandi Carlyle singing “A Case of You” to Joni Mitchell, members of Nirvana performing “The Man Who Sold the World” with Beck Survivors, And Lionel Richie blew the roof off the Beverly Hilton with a double shot of “All Night Long” and “Dancing on the Ceiling.”
A pre-Grammy tradition the night before the awards since 1976, the party has been on pandemic-related hiatus for the past three years, virtually held in 2021 and skipped last year. But it’s back this weekend, and Thursday afternoon Variety descended on the Hilton for another pre-Grammy tradition, an interview with the man two days before the party. In the short conversation below, he reveals the closing act for this weekend’s party and more.
How is the party going this year?
The party is going great—the excitement, the look forward to it, the feeling, the RSVP list, the show, everything. You know, people used to liken the group to Swifty Lazarus [legendary pre-Oscar party]But that party was cocktails and dinner and then you want to go see the Oscars. This is all that and shows! And it’s a great opportunity, over cocktails and dinner, for people to see people they want to see and maybe have never met. I remember Tim Cook being excited to meet Joni Mitchell and then going to talk to David Hockney, who has become a friend of mine. I will have to create a special smoking area for him while he is here, he is a militant smoker.
Do you own any hackneys?
I do! where is my phone This year, I was inducted into the National Portrait Gallery, along with Serena and Venus Williams, Dr. Fauci and others, and they ask you to pick an artist to paint your portrait for the museum. And it was the biggest long shot but David and I became friends and I called
To him personally, I said, “Look, if this is inappropriate in any way, I apologize. But I want to ask you because you would be my favorite artist to paint me if you were able. He said, “Yes, but you know, I’m from France. Being in Normandy, I’m not in LA, and I don’t do portraits from photographs. So you need to come to Normandy for at least three days. And this is the result.
(Holds up picture.)
It’s a big thrill. And David has been to probably three or four Grammy parties, when he was in L.A. I introduced him to Joni Mitchell, I put them at the same table. They became lifelong friends. I have Brandi Carlyle join them next year, so people can meet their special heroes.
It will be Nancy Pelosi’s 23rd Grammy party and her husband Paul is coming.
what is he
Yes, he will be there. [Apple chief] Tim Cook is coming. There are many first timers who are very satisfied and seem to have heard the legend and want to come.
Brandi headlined Joni’s big comeback concert in Newport last summer. Can you think of any other great collaborations that came out of this?
After Alicia’s debut [Keys’] album, and he won a Grammy and it went multiplatinum, then I went to him and I said, what’s your next dream? And he thought for a few minutes, and he said, “You know, I want to perform at your party with Aretha. Can you arrange for me to do a performance?” And of course I did. It was very special.
I’m guessing this year’s guest list is more stellar than ever?
I would say from the point of view of movie stars, one way or another the big movie stars are coming.
Is there some kind of theme to the musical performance or something being celebrated or observed or something like that?
Yes, I don’t want to give the evening away, but there are certain things that are being celebrated. I’m sorry, I couldn’t be more specific.
Every time we do these interviews I try to single out at least one performer. I saw an executive in the lobby that makes me think Lauren Daigle is performing — is there anyone else you can tell?
Well, not just trying to be stone-faced or dismissing the idea, I’m doing it because he’s going to be the final performer of the night. You know, the show can go on for hours, so at some point early on, I’ll say, “If you leave before it’s over, you leave it at your peril, because you’ll miss the final performer of the night.” For years. Seeing the impact of the party, the producers of the Michael Jackson Broadway musical agreed to fly in for its incredibly talented star, Miles Frost, to perform the weekend here.
Singing Michael Jackson?
The party is famous for its duets, besides Aretha and Alicia, what are some of your favorites?
Oh… Whitney and Natalie Cole. Rod Stewart, Lou Reed and Slash [from Guns N’ Roses]. Barry Manilow and Jennifer Hudson sing “A Weekend in New England”. This year there will be a duet at the party. I mentioned this at the Billboard Power of Women event yesterday — where I unexpectedly followed the Bad Bunny! (Laughs) I said, a great rock star duets with a great Latin star. I did not identify the name.
What bad bunny is going to perform?
We will see!