Not to be confused with the just-released memoir by Arista Records legend Clive Davis (The Soundtrack of My Life), Don Silver’s slim, paperback memoir covering much of the time he worked with Davis is actually a far more interesting read.
Yes, Davis admits to his bisexuality and battles with Kelly Clarkston in his autobiography, but Silver is far more revealing about just how much of a jackass his former boss really was (a revelation that just about everyone but Davis is willing to share) in Clive: Working For the Man in the Age of Vinyl. Coming in exactly at 100 pages (does that make it a memoir-ette? Memoir-a? A glorified article?), the book is short and sweet, beginning with Silver’s childhood in the Philly suburbs and his move to New York where he hustled for a job in music after a very brief stint as a band manager (he had one client and not a very good one at that). In 1981, he managed to talk his way into an interview with Davis, who at that point was running at 90% ego, and eventually was hired on as an A&R man.
Not many musicians make cameos in Silver’s book – this was the peak of Disco, so none of the names would likely impress now anyway – but rather Silver gives an honest, self-effacing, often funny look at what it was like to be an insider working with one of the most powerful music bosses at the time.
If you’re interested in learning about Davis, my advice is to skip the much-hyped Soundtrack of My Life and go with Silver’s book instead. It’s a far more compelling read and you can be certain it’s a more accurate portrayal of the music mogul.