From Carlos Santana to Pink Floyd – Was Clive Davis The “Angel” Of The Music Industry?

In Carlos Santana’s autobiography “The Universal Tone” he talks about how at various points in his career an “Angel” would turn up and open doors for him.

One such Angel, for Santana, was Clive Davis one of the music industry’s movers and shakers. He came up with the idea of partnering Santana with younger musicians such as “Smooth” with Rob Thomas.

Clive Davis was responsible for the success of acts like Billy Joel, Pink Floyd and Whitney Houston and he believed in Santana.

Santana is maybe the only rock band to have gold records in the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s then with Clive Davis driving and creating momentum there were to be gold records into the 90’s & 2000’s.

Clive Davis and Santa (Vanity Fair)

Rock Promoter Bill Graham

Another one of Santana’s angels was Bill Graham who was able to get Santana on the bill at Woodstock which got everything started for the band’s international career and reputation.

Bill Graham was a rock promoter that owned venues like the Fillmore and was so impressed by Santana’s unique sound that he wanted to manage the band, it was his belief in them that opened doors in the early stages.

Bill Graham’s story is huge and his biography is really interesting…he was a kind of latter day John Hammond Snr, now there’s another great story for another blog!

Bill Graham (Rollingstone)

Rock Promoter John Hammond

We know names like Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Robert Johnson because of John Hammond.

It was Hammond that introduced the guitarist Charlie Christian (the Jimi Hendrix of his generation) to his brother in law Benny Goodman.

John Hammond was from a very wealthy family and he used his wealth to promote the music that he loved, Jazz & Blues, and made an enormous impact.

Later he was responsible for helping build careers for Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Ray Vaughan, an incredible legacy.

Whether you call guys like Clive Davis, Bill Graham or John Hammond “angels” or just very helpful people… it’s clear that something extraordinary has gone into creating the success for every one of these careers and the world is a better place because of these very helpful people/angels.

The Brewster Brothers Interview

I’ve always loved reading or hearing interviews with successful musicians.

I’m fascinated by what inspired them in the first place, how they created their music and then what went into getting them into the public’s attention and gaze.

You can be the greatest musician playing the greatest music but if no one knows of you or has heard your music it’s not going to achieve much.

Speaking of angels, one of my favourite interviews that I did was with John & Rick Brewster of The Angels.

I called John Brewster and asked him if we could film the interview for Australian Guitar Magazine, he agreed then suggested that it might be good to do the interview after a corporate gig they were to do for one of the banks (of all things).

It was an “awards” lunch for one of the banks employees at a Chinese restaurant at North Sydney. It was quite a small affair, maybe 50 people.

The Brewsters played an “unplugged” set after the awards were handed out so we got to watch the show then, interview the guys after the gig.

I’d actually never seen the Angels before even though I was familiar with their songs so it was really interesting to hear the Angels songs being done in an acoustic format. I did say to John that I was intrigued that it worked acoustically and he said “that’s how the songs were written in the first place”.

The Angels also have a huge story and I wanted to find out what made them the success that is the Angels.

I wanted to know what inspired them in the first place –

…how they created their music

…and what went into making their popularity and commercial success.