Documentary delves into life of music pioneer Clive Davis

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The Tribeca Film Festival launched in style with an all-star tribute to music industry legend Clive Davis, held at New York City's famed Radio City Music Hall.

And Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives uses a trick over and over that I knowingly fell for every time: It will start with a recording artist like Carlos Santana explaining how he tried telling Clive that he wasn't sure his reintroduction to radio airplay would work, then the guitar riff of "Smooth" will kick in with a knowing, "Well, I guess that worked out", attitude.

As part of the tribute, Oscar and Grammy Award victor Jennifer Hudson performed a medley of the biggest hits of Whitney Houston - the protege who Davis discovered and mentored but ultimately could not save from premature death. As Simon, who earlier sang a mashup of "Coming Around Again" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (with help from a group of children) noted during her brief stop on stage, "Happiness is a man called Clive".

When we get to Houston's death, the film starts to feel like a documentary on her life instead of Davis'.

"Clive is not only the chieftain who sits in an executive office and takes care of all the business, but he takes care of the artists as well", she said.

"Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" is directed by Chris Perkel and based on the 2013 autobiography from Davis. He lost his parents while he was an undergraduate at New York University, and later attended Harvard Law School.

Documentary delves into life of music pioneer Clive Davis
Documentary delves into life of music pioneer Clive Davis

From 1967 to 1973, Davis was the president of Columbia Records.

"I think the film beautifully captures the real Whitney that you have never seen", Davis told Inside Edition. He even had a large role in shaping the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin and Billy Joel.

Other performers included Kenny G and Dionne Warwick, who earned a standing ovation after she hit a high note.

Davis founded Arista Records in 1975 and J Records in 2000.

"Apple is a global innovator that has revolutionized the distribution of music", said Davis.

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