Clive Davis Back in at Arista

Ousted exec returns to run BMG

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Four years after getting his ouster from Arista Records, legendary label exec Clive Davis has been tapped by its parent company, the Bertelsmann Music Group, to be chairman and CDO of its North American division.

Nearly four years ago, Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he told reporters, "Don't worry about me," in reference to his impending departure from Arista Records, the label he started and nurtured for a quarter century. Despite discovering and signing talent like Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston and Patti Smith -- while also resurrecting vets like Carlos Santana -- Davis, 67 at the time, fell victim to a mandatory retirement policy by Bertelsmann, a German multi-media conglomerate, which replaced him with younger brass, Antonio "L.A." Reid.

Reid's timing was poor. Despite launching the careers of Pink and Avril Lavigne, and enjoying successful releases by Arista artists like OutKast, the company -- like much of the industry -- hit the skids, losing an estimated $100 million during Reid's short tenure, which ended with his firing last month. Davis, meanwhile, had successfully launched a new label, J Records, in October 2000, and less than a year later, he showed that he still had an ear for new talent, as Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor gave his label its first Number One. J has since had success with albums by Luther Vandross, Rod Stewart and members of the American Idol franchise.

In addition to J Records, Davis will again assume control of Arista as well as RCA and Jive Records, all of which fall under the BMG umbrella.

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