It seems like someone is always saving my life (lol). Music impresario Clive Davis master producer of such hits as Santana's Supernatural and Kelly Clarkson's Grammy winning Breakaway saved my financial life. Now maybe you can split hairs about financial life versus mortal life, but at that time it felt like both were intertwined. Today, after cancer and riding a bicycle across America separation exists that didn't back in the day.
We were working with talented Durham artist Jeff Goll. Jeff was creating large dried gourds with simple sayings etched in one letter at a time by hand. Wish I could remember Jeff's word wizardry, but I do remember we were running Found Objects at a loss and the "make it up in volume" wasn't working so well.
The day Mr. Davis called we weren't clear where rent, payroll or dinner was coming from. "Hello," Mr. Davis said into the phone in his trademarked, halting yet confident New York yet not accent. For some reason I'd answer the phone. I rarely answered the phone lost inside code (back in those days), copy writing or Photoshoping on FoundObjects.com. This day I answered the phone.
"This is Clive Davis from New York," he said simply. Celebrities weren't uncommon at Found Objects. My ex Clobbered Yoko Ono one day as we were discussing working with her on my ex's cellphone, we worked with artist Jenny Holzer, we met Robert Rauschenberg and Annie Leibovitz. Mr. Davis was friendly, chatty and supportive. He wanted to know about us, about Jeff and how we came to sell such a distinct object.
Elizabeth Edwards and Seth Godin.
It was so about me, Jeff Goll and Found Objects Mr. Davis almost forgot he called to place an order for 2 gourds. Telling Mr. Davis I would gladly extended wholesale prices to him he laughed, cupped the phone and I heard laughter behind him. "No son," the creator of Arista records told me, "I will pay retail." We shipped the gourds carefully and quickly with an invoice. Two days later a check came with a simple white card, "Thanks," followed by a large, blue, looping, distinctive signature, "Clive Davis". I wish I still had the card and check.
I didn't think much about it since the two gourds we shipped Mr. Davis would pay for dinner but wouldn't keep the wolf from the door. "Did you see this," my ex screamed running from the other room. Handing me a check for five times the retail price of Jeff's gourds I almost fell down (Jeff if you are reading this I confess we paid you your usual royalty so I owe you a few lunches :). Found Objects would make payroll and we could eat out on Mr. Davis' expansive generosity. Now I know my life wasn't in as much mortal danger then as seemed, but hindsight is always 20/20 and on that day it felt like the man that produced some of the greatest music of our time, the nice man on the phone, saved my company, marriage (for a little while anyway) and life. Thanks Mr. Davis. You rock.