August 16, 2017

HITS Presents History of the Music Biz Two – The Mike Sigman Interviews

Mariah Mottola Glew M Jackson Babyface Grammys 93

As the son of Hall of Fame songwriter Carl Sigman (“It’s All In The Game,” “Ebb Tide,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” “What Now, My Love,” and many more), Michael Sigman grew up immersed in the pop and rock revolution of the ’50s and ’60s. As editor of Record World Magazine from 1972-’82, he had a front row seat for the musical and music biz explosions that followed.

Now leading music industry trade journal Hits has published the second volume of History of the Music Biz – The Mike Sigman Interviews, featuring intimate portraits of such seminal figures as Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, singer Tony Bennett, A&M Records co-founder /musician Herb Alpert, and Rolling Stone founder/editor Jann Wenner. (Volume 1, published last year, focused on such record label pioneers as Berry Gordy, Clive Davis, and Jac Holzman.
Following is an exclusive excerpt from Sigman’s interview with David Glew — a top record company executive for more than three decades — first at Atlantic and then at Epic – who may be less well-known than some of his more flamboyant brethren but whose story — he was the guy who brought order to the chaos — is every bit as interesting and important.

By Michael Sigman

During my years at Record World, when emotions ran high because an Atlantic record didn’t get a bullet on the charts, Dave was a calm voice of authority that helped the relationship stay solid. When I was running LA Weekly (Editor’s note: with Record Collector News editor Jim Kaplan!) and Dave was running Epic, his loyal and gifted associate, the late Polly Anthony, made sure things ran smoothly with one of our most important advertisers.

In 1969, legendary Atlantic Records honcho Jerry Wexler called Glew and asked him to meet in New York.

“Glew recalled, ‘I’ve never been to New York, so I fly in and guess what, the address is Jerry’s doctor’s office! Jerry loved going to the doctor, did you know that?
“I walk in to the doctor’s office and Jerry’s sitting there. Before I have a chance to sit down he says, ‘What are your ideas on how we’re gonna make Atlantic the biggest record company in the world?’ I was prepared and said, ‘First, you have to set up your own distribution. You put out 20 records at a time and you can’t expect independent distributors to buy them all. Also, you have very few sales tools and we’re constantly out of your records.’ He stops me there and says, ‘Do you want the job? It’s album sales manager.’ He threw in merchandising manager. I said, ‘Yes.’”

Glew with Tony Bennett at 1993 MTV Awards

Glew with Tony Bennett at 1993 MTV Awards

On his first day, Wexler isn’t in the office. Other execs are, but they don’t Dave has been hired. And he still didn’t know how much he would be paid.
“Jerry comes in the next day and says, ‘I want to tell you who you report to. You report to me on sales and to Nesuhi Ertegun on merchandising.’ I’m thinking, ‘Did I make the biggest mistake of my life?’ This place is like the Wild West.

“The bottom line is that you figured it out. There was no politics, people worked together because the music was so incredible. If you look at what Atlantic put out between ’68 and ’71, it’s mind boggling—Cream, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Aretha, Vanilla Fudge, Yes…

“Ahmet [Ertegun] was rarely there—he was traveling all over the world, signing people, and in the studio. What people don’t realize is that Wexler ran that company and was in the studio.”

In the late ’80s CBS Records honcho Tommy Mottola called Dave and asked if they could meet.

Dave: “We have dinner and he says some changes are gonna happen at a major company and would I be interested in being a part. I said, ‘Look, I’ve been a loyal soldier at Atlantic. But I would never be president. I said I’d be interested if I could be a president.

“Then I have dinner with Tommy and (CBS uber-boss) Walter Yetnikoff and they tell me Tommy will be named president of CBS Records shortly and they wanted me for VP of Epic. The CBS structure didn’t allow for presidents of divisions, but they hinted that there was something going on with Sony and they could put a guarantee in my contract that I would be president of Epic Records within six or nine months. So Ann and I go to dinner and she gets a napkin out and we put down numbers—signing bonus, parking spaces, outrageous stuff. I meet them again and show them the numbers and they say, ‘You got it.’” Dave adds wryly, “And I think I should have asked for more.

Glew with Michael Jackson

Glew with Michael Jackson

“I get someone to draw up the contract and I take it back to Walter and Tommy on a Friday night. They look at it and they say, on the spot, ‘We will sign this contract but you must sign it now before you tell Atlantic you’re leaving.’ So I did.”

Dave goes back to Atlantic on Monday to resign and, just like on his first day, he can’t find anyone in charge.

“Finally I found Doug [Morris] and told him. That afternoon Steve Ross calls and asks me to come upstairs. I go upstairs and he says, ‘You’re leaving, why?’ I say my goal was to become a president and he says, ‘You have a contract with us.’ I say, ‘No I don’t,’ which shocks him. He says ‘We’ll match the offer and I’ll give you Warner Communications shares and we’ll figure out a way to make you president.’ I went back down and told Doug I gave Walter and Tommy my word and I’m going. Guess what? They escorted me out of the building.”

So ended Dave’s 19-year relationship with Atlantic.

“I go in as senior VP/GM of Epic/Portrait/CBS Associated Labels and around nine months later, they made me president.”

Glew with Cyndi Lauper, Babyface and wife Tracey, with good friend Ellen at Epic's post-AMA bash 1994

Glew with Cyndi Lauper, Babyface and wife Tracey, with good friend Ellen at Epic’s post-AMA bash 1994

Aided by a crack team that included Richard Griffiths, Hank Caldwell and Polly Anthony, Dave engineered a turnaround of epic proportions, signing Pearl Jam, Spin Doctors, Suicidal Tendencies, Bad English and Alice Cooper, and turning around Gloria Estefan’s career. Then there was Celine Dion.

In 1994, Dave was named Chairman of the Epic Groupand the hits kept coming, with Rage Against The Machine, Oasis, Ben Folds Five, Jennifer Lopez and more.
Dave is especially proud to have signed AC/DC, a band he was tight with at Atlantic.

“Here’s how I won them over. I knew Atlantic had taken the packaging on their CDs down to one page. That’s what the labels were doing to save a few pennies. We brought Angus [Young], who was the one calling the shots, to our offices in New York and, with Steve Barnett, made a great presentation—with the help of Sony’s amazing art department—of special packaging we’d prepared for all the old albums. He loved it.”

HITS Presents History of the Music Biz Two – The Mike Sigman Interviews is available for purchase at


  1. Mike Sigmunds was a great friend to me as I was making my up up the ladder in this crazy world of “the record business.” We first met in NY when I headed up album promotion at RCA Records. He, Lenny Beer and Tony Profera were the first to welcome me to the national scene. Mike was always go for a laugh and he was always hustling. Look forward to reading more of his stuff.

    Hi Mike, wishing you all the best, my friend,

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