“I don’t think a ‘revolution’ every year or two is particularly healthy. There is no particular ‘revolution’ occurring in popular music today. What’s happening is that certain trends which began within the last five years are spreading and things are being consolidated. That does not mean that today’s music is passive.
“There are certain `trends’ to music. Executives don’t create ‘trends’ in music—artists do. Yet executives get paid to spot ‘trends’ in music. I was involved with the contemporary rock revolution after Monterey. And I was one of the first to become aware that the Black music business which had been a singles orientated music business would become a major album business and very much a part of the music world. In the 60s and early 70s I began working to sign Earth, Wind, & Fire, The Isley Brothers, and The Manhattans and put together the deal with Philadelphia International that brought us (Columbia) The O’Jays and Billy Paul. Now that was spotting a trend before it erupted. And I encouraged Miles Davis to move out into progressive music (I had noticed the growing sophistication of popular music which would enable the progressive artist who had a feel for the electronic, amplified rock) and play before young audiences. Bitches Brew catapulted Miles from the normal 50,000 albums that he usually sold to 500,000. It gave me the impetus to realize that there was a new trend, a new ‘revolution’ in the making and it encouraged me to sign the likes of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, and (to work with such groups as) Pink Floyd.
“What’s happening now is that all of those new flourishings of the late 60s and early 70s that my life was immersed in are now flowering today. There might not be a new sound like the revolution that occur right after Monterey (I lived that, you know, signing Joplin and others). I would say that the state of music today is healthy. The critics who ask for a revolution every year are really being silly and almost irresponsible for their asking for a sound which will eclipse and dominate and focus around itself. I think that would be unhealthy.”
DYLAN, PAUL SIMON, SLY TO ARISTA?
“It so happens that our lives at various stages have consistently intertwined. When I was writing the book that I wrote on the record business (Clive) two years ago I was considering various offers: I could have gone into business with Bob Dylan or Paul Simon. Sly called me up