Clive Davis Looks Back

Part 1: The music biz icon who signed Whitney Houston reflects on his biggest hits.
6:33 | 02/18/13

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Transcript for Clive Davis Looks Back
Let me ask you something. How does a kid from Brooklyn with only 4000 dollars to his name when he loses both his parents at eighteen. Go on to graduate from Harvard law and then don't want to be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame is one of music's most legendary producers. It's a story that spans four decades and countless chart topping hits. Nightline anchor Cynthia McFadden brings us this exclusive look at the man behind the music it's the -- -- Listen to the soundtrack of Clive davis' life. This -- discovery Janis Joplin. He recorded her piece of my heart in 1960 days. Released Santana as evil ways shortly thereafter. He wants to -- succeeds -- following. He nurtured indicted -- -- established artists along the way Simon and Garfunkel Barry Manilow. -- took others on the expressway to new thing. Like Aretha Franklin. Then of course there's the -- and he is most identified with. Whitney Houston's. -- -- discovered when she was still a teenager. -- He introduced to -- the Merv Griffin Show in 1983. You either got it you don't have it she's got you yeah. He's been proving he's done it -- last fifty years. We've spent hours with Davis -- the past month trying to unlock the secret of what makes the man with the golden years to. Davis is looking for songs for new Jennifer Hudson album. Hearing this one for the first time. -- -- Hey what. Troops home this is something that we. Return. He's cool water balloons we want it to his glamorous homes that blast from the past and to just sit down there Elaine talk to me about Bob. I've said -- you know. Does cook could be a single -- he was Shaw can you get the praise they leaving laying on the big deal. Is that I think -- -- yeah. Yeah. -- -- -- -- The boss -- Wednesday. That was a big star -- -- -- and total and a kid and New Jersey and Kidd from -- -- Forty years later Davis is advice to the future loss seems unimaginable. The more energy. And I wore them for war and side of the stage. To be -- just two point -- Said -- to 1974. I mean hoping own -- -- -- I'd like go backstage. And he's quote. Who -- -- them before you tonight. It's that kind of fatherly advice that's brought an endless parade of stars -- -- to davis' famed Hollywood bungalow. Where -- in putting the finishing touches on this year's pre Grammy party. So we aren't the nerve center this this is it the famous Clive Davis bungalow on the grounds of Beverly Hills Hotel Whitney Houston everybody has come to this living. We're deeply divided no control move would come here on the -- -- fit there real gold with the mercurial. To -- -- in the morning. He pick this -- years ago for privacy. Various artists and -- himself. Most importantly I play my music -- below. Through his -- Like a rowdy teenagers I'm like a road in Tunisia. I missed days of rowdy teen is listening to bring new music from acclaimed songwriter Diane Warren. Warrant brought countless hits clients away. I'm hoping -- I view does -- salute to change yeah this. Pro league reviews could reverse cruel can you imagine like like the plan will never -- An artist. House. People are scared of artists and still -- -- Japan. Let's not an animated and that is beginning and -- -- it felt tonight -- they're not meant this literally does commit his. -- -- is rich in stories one of them the painful details of what happened just a year ago. When he got the phone call Whitney Houston with -- Who's here in this -- and that full running on. To. You have been called by many including members of her family her professional father -- you feel in any way on my goodness I should've recognized there was. A problem even then when she was scared they have for -- -- -- Poses skeletal figure of the more complex and Madison square Gordon comes through and so from -- ruled rules noted that it was time to deal. With the clearly a drug problem. That she could no longer ignore -- to -- identify anything. She did -- -- I do know who Chico pulled over I do go warmup -- to the subject -- don't personally as human lawyers sitting probably. I think it was -- 2000. And Bobby Brown was actually in jail and that. The boy's story funeral did she -- We have treatment intensely. And she was already. -- weren't -- -- about the young lawyer Clive Davis wasn't ready to take over the legendary Columbia records. When he was just 35 it was a -- -- who's who flew the skepticism gave way to call when the hits just kept on coming. Along with the money. You have made a lot of it. One year seventy million dollars. By anybody's standards. It's especially important growing up in Brooklyn. A lot of go. How important was making the money to you that drew. Can borrow money I am a -- the humble looking. When we return Clive Davis reveals the very personal secret he's kept for thirty years. I suspect and someone -- just was hardest one for you comprise.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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