The man who launched so many singers into the stratosphere is now reflecting on his own legacy.
Famed A&R L.A. Reid just released his memoir, Sing To Me, and the book is filled with history. On Tuesday night the Schomburg Center in Harlem was packed with people to hear Reid on the rainy evening. The music legend sat down with NYU professor Jason King for a discussion filled with inside stories, gossip and a candid conversation about his career.
Here are five interesting things that were revealed during the discussion.
Babyface Was Originally Modeled After Luther Vandross
One of the big breaks for The Deele was touring with Luther Vandross, off the strength of the song “Body Talk.” Reid considered this to be a life changing opportunity for him, helping the group to get out of the chittlin’ circuit. When Reid started to work with Babyface, he modeled him after Babyface. Vandross was known for being a perfectionist, and always achieved a pristine sound, and Reid said he wanted Babyface’s music to have the same “feeling.”
Whitney Houston Recorded “I’m Your Baby Tonight” In Record Time
Clive Davis wanted Reid to work with Whitney Houston on two songs in 1989, and had her fly down to Atlanta to record. Originally a limo was supposed to pick her up from the airport, but it never showed up. Reid had to drive to get her, and was expecting the singer to arrive with a ton of “Louis Vuitton luggage” as he imagined. Instead, he found her sitting quietly with a purse and one bag. The two bonded over their love of Chaka Khan (“I could not sing, but we were singing Chaka Khan in the car,” as Reid described it) in the car, and when they got to his house Houston wanted to go shopping with his then-wife, Pebbles. He brought her there to work on “I’m Your Baby Tonight” as it was a complicated song, and Houston knocked out the majority of it in 30 minutes. Reid had not finished working on the bridge, and Houston completed the song after she went shopping.
Jay Z Is Never Late For Anything
Reid has never seen Jay Z arrive late anywhere. Ever. One time when they were catching a flight, Reid got to the airport and found Jay Z was the first person to arrive. He asked the Roc Nation president why he was always so punctual about time. Jay’s response was, “It’s because I’m a rapper. Nobody expects a rapper to be on time for anything.” Reid said he also could not think of a single controversy or bad story from working with Jay.
L.A. Reid Went To Epic Records Because He Wanted A Clean Slate
When Epic Records announced Reid as its new CEO, the label was actually about to tank. Most of the artists on Epic were transferred to other ones, and the label was about to close down. Reid was given the option of going to RCA, but wanted to develop news artists instead of being with established names. So when he heard Epic was going under, he saw this as a chance to start anew instead of reviving a legacy record label. Now one of his artists at Epic, Meghan Trainor, just won the Best New Artist Grammy.
Out Of Everyone He Has Worked With, Outkast Is His Favorite Act
And Reid said this is officially on the record.
You can watch the entire conversation below: