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Who's Talking to Chris Wallace

Interview With CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky; Interview With Billionaire Entrepreneur Mark Cuban; Interview With Clive Davis. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 09, 2022 - 19:00   ET



NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: And while the movement continues to be driven by acts of defiance by women protesting against the Iranian regime's severe restrictions on women's rights, the movement has also now grown to encompass more wide reaching grievances held by the Iranian people, gaining support and momentum up and down the country -- Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: All right. Well, thank you for joining me tonight. I'm Pamela Brown. "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" is up next.


My guests tonight are notable leaders in their field. A public health expert, a billionaire businessman and a legendary music producer.

Up first, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has the latest in the fight against COVID and she gets candid about what it's like to deal with a pandemic in the current political climate.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Oh, it's so frustrating. It just feels like that's not where health should be.


WALLACE: Then, tech mogul Mark Cuban surprises me with some news about his future on "Shark Tank," and his ongoing feud with one guest shark.


WALLACE: Have you been in the same room with him?

MARK CUBAN, BILLIONAIRE ENTREPRENEUR: No, I have not. Have not. I haven't talked to him since. Not a word.


WALLACE: And later, the so-called man with a golden ear, Clive Davis, reveals the biggest recording artist he never signed and the one he'll always be remembered for. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Is Whitney the artist of your career?

I worked a lot on this question, Alex.

Shania, don't do that.

Are you always like this? Are you saying parents are wrong?


WALLACE: Will you come back?

HENRY WINKLER, ACTOR: Yes. Of course I will.



WALLACE: Dr. Rochelle Walensky leads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more than 18 months, she's been the face of the Biden administration's fight against the COVID pandemic. In our conversation, she talks about how she deals with the criticism she faces and her future at the agency. But we start with those new COVID vaccines.


WALLACE: How does the rate at which people are getting this new vaccine compare to the rate at which they were getting the original shots and the boosters?

WALENSKY: Well, first, let's just reflect how important this moment is, that we have a new vaccine that actually matches the variants that we have circulating right now. So that's new and novel, and we're really excited that we have this bivalent vaccine right now.

The reason it's important to get right now is because it expands your immunity. It expands -- increase the duration of protection. And what we're seeing is an increase in the number of people who are getting it. We're just starting to release data on the number of people who are getting it, it's over seven million, and we've seen an increase in the pace of those vaccines going into arms.

WALLACE: So are you reasonably satisfied with the pace? I mean, you'd always like it to be more.

WALENSKY: I would always like more.

WALLACE: But, I mean, are you reasonably satisfied or are you concerned that people -- that there may be some vaccine fatigue, people may feel like the pandemic is over, and they're not responding as quickly as they should to this new right vaccine and protection?

WALENSKY: Yes. Well, I think both can be true. I'm enthusiastic about what we're seeing so far, but I'm also anticipating, as we go into the fall, as we go into respiratory virus season, we really do want to get that updated booster into arms as well as get people the flu vaccine. So really we're not going to slow down in our efforts. We really want to increase vaccine uptake, both for COVID vaccines as well as influenza vaccines.

WALLACE: Yes, I want to ask you about that. When should you get the new vaccine? Because I've heard some people say, you know, I think I'm going to wait for a bit and then get it when I can -- so I'll be protected against a possible spike in the virus as the weather gets colder. How do you feel about people timing when they get the vaccine?

WALENSKY: You know, right now, I think it's just important to roll up your sleeve and get the vaccine. For those who have had a COVID infection in the last three months or so, we would say, OK, you know, wait until you're three months out of your last protection to get -- or your last infection so you can get the most out of the vaccine, but really, you know, we're coming into October respiratory viral season.

We don't know exactly when a surge may hit and we want to be prepared. We know once you get the vaccine, it takes a couple of weeks for that immunity to kick in. So I think now is really the time to go ahead and get it.

WALLACE: You started your -- in medicine in the '90s, just at the height of HIV/AIDS. And I wonder, on a personal level as well as a professional level, how that shaped your career, that experience, and your focus on infectious disease?

WALENSKY: It was instrumental. I mean, I remember being a first-year med student in the classroom when the news broke that Magic Johnson had HIV.


We literally walked into the classroom and everybody was poring over the newspaper on the news. It was around the time Arthur Ashe was diagnosed with AIDS. My -- I was an intern in inner city Baltimore in 1995 and what that year was so important in the world of HIV and AIDS. In June, July of that year, when I was a starting house officer, there was no treatment. And in December was the approval of the third drug in the cocktail.

And so literally, we were admitting six, seven people a night, half of whom were dying of AIDS. And so by the, you know, end of that year, when I was a house officer, we could tell people there was hope. We could tell people that you might not die. You might have to take 14 pills three times a day, but you might not die of this disease. And that was -- I just kind of needed to know how this was all going to go.

What did this mean for HIV? What did this mean for an epidemic in this country and truly around the world? And so, it is the reason I'm an HIV doc and an infectious disease doc.

WALLACE: I want to switch from that to where you are right now, though, because on this personal level, you've, not surprisingly, come under some criticism for your handling of COVID, so has everybody else. But you don't come from the world of politics. You come from the world of patient care and the world of research. So getting into this world and taking the political knocks, has that been hard for you?

WALENSKY: You know, I knew when I took this position I was going to get those. What's been interesting is I literally was kind of plucked from the bedside. I was, you know, running a division of infectious diseases and had been wearing a stethoscope a couple of months prior to my coming into the administration. And when you take care of a patient, they sort of assume that you are there, you are working for their good health.

You wouldn't be there otherwise. And so when I took this position, I felt like, OK, I've gone from a single person being my patient to the country being my patient. That sort of assumption of goodwill and good intention is not necessarily carried. And it became a lot of political knocks. So that was -- that took some getting used to. Bottom line is, my job is to take care of and protect the health of America and people around the world. I take that very seriously and I don't think our viruses care which way you vote.

WALLACE: But honestly -- I understand they don't care, but honestly, do you care? Does it hurt your feelings when people, usually of the other party, than the president, ascribe -- don't ascribe good faith to your efforts?

WALENSKY: Yes, I mean, I would prefer they saw good faith in my efforts, certainly. But it's also the case that there's a lot of noise out there and it's very hard for me to do my job if I listen to all of the knocks because what I really need to know is focus on the good health of this country and making really important decisions in this time. So, yes, yes, of course it hurts.

WALLACE: You have also been criticized for sending mixed messages. And I just want to give you two examples for you to respond to. In the spring of 2021, you said that vaccinated people need to wear masks, then two days later, that they don't, then two months later, you reversed that again saying they can still transmit the virus. Also last December, you said people with the virus should isolate for five days instead of 10, and even Dr. Fauci, one of your colleagues, broke with you saying they should get a negative test before ending isolation.

I'm less interested in the specifics of those and more in the general question of, do you think that you've had a learning curve in terms of giving public guidance? Do you think -- have been a victim of some culture shock in terms of this job versus other jobs?

WALENSKY: Certainly I had a learning curve. But yes, I came into a new government job running an agency of 13,000 and there has been a learning curve. But I also think that -- and so some of that would have been, I might have said in many of those comments, for now, because the science has evolved. And the science has changed. And oh, by the way, so has the virus. So we've learned more about how our vaccines work. We've learned more about how they potentially protect against infection, how they protect against severe infection, how they might wane.

We've also had a change in the virus. What was true about being able to take your masks off for an Alpha variant was not true for a Delta variant. So both the virus and the science evolved, such that our recommendations had to evolve. And in truth, I've spent a lot of time thinking about sort of those early nights and those early recommendations and what I think I've learned is to say, for now, because this is a very rapidly moving science.


WALLACE: How troubled are you that so often, and this was certainly true of AIDS and it's true now of COVID, that our politics gets mixed up with public health?

WALENSKY: Oh, it's so frustrating. You know, as you try and do the work to deliver prevention, good health metric measures to people, it is just frustrating that the politics is in the mix because -- especially, I mean, we can spend a lot of time talking about promoting vaccination, prevention measures, things like that. I believe, as you try and get vaccine hesitant people to think about vaccines, what you need to do is listen because many people have many reasons why they have questions about the vaccines and you need to be able to answer those questions. But as politics gets in the mix, it just feels like that's not where health should be. I take care of people and have taken care of people regardless of how they vote.

WALLACE: Final question, the midterms, two years in, is a time when you see turnover inside administrations. People leave after the midterms. Have you given any thought to leaving the CDC sometime after November, or do you plan to stay on?

WALENSKY: My work is not done. And, you know, I just a couple of months ago launched a review of the CDC and talked about what we need to do in this next chapter. We've been dealing with a lot of outbreaks over the last two years and I feel like I have more job to do while I'm there.


WALLACE: Coming up, billionaire and "Shark Tank" star Mark Cuban joins me to discuss his plan to revolutionize the health care industry and why he might just leave the show that's made him a household name.


WALLACE: I hear -- and please tell me, as a "Shark Tank" fan that this is not true.




WALLACE: He brings an infectious energy to everything he does. Mark Cuban is known as a shark on TV, a hot-tempered NBA owner, and the man behind a new project that just might change how much you pay for your prescription drugs.


WALLACE: I have got to start with "Shark Tank," because I've got to tell you, when I'm getting ready for bed, every night, I put on "Shark Tank" and I watch at least one pitch and, I don't know, that somehow calms me down and gets me ready to go to bed. This is your 13th season. The question is, is it good for your business? Is it an ego boost? Or is it just for fun?

CUBAN: Really, the reason I do the show is it sends a message to the entire country that watches that the American dream is still alive and well. And particularly for kids. You know, there aren't a lot of business classes, particularly at the lower grades, and I can't tell you how many times people come up to me and said, you know, when I was 12 years old or 13 years old, I started watching "Shark Tank" and I've started my own business and have been successful. Or my kids and I watch "Shark Tank" because it's the only show we can watch together as a family.

So just sending that message and educating kids, that's the ego boost I like.

WALLACE: You have had some interesting moments over the years. Let's take a look.

CUBAN: Sure.


CUBAN: She's a gold digger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. She's not a gold digger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you just call me a gold digger?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this going to be as fast as last season's Dallas Mavericks playoff highlight reel? I believe --

CUBAN: Can I just say that highlight reel -- oh, wait, you don't have a team, you don't have any highlights of anything, do you?

You know what's going to screw you up, Kash? The fact that you believe in your own nonsense. At some point, you've got to do the work. Be somebody who doesn't get (EXPLETIVE DELETED), bro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is up with that rim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope the league doesn't see this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, he does suck.


CUBAN: You're killing me, Chris. You're killing me.

WALLACE: No, we had our staff go through 13 seasons and find the most embarrassing moments.

CUBAN: That's funny.

WALLACE: Over -- and you're just into your 13th season, over these years, you say that you've invested more than $29 million in some 85 companies. What's your best investment? What's your worst investment?

CUBAN: I think my best investment is a company called Cycloramic, which did computer vision. Started off just doing panoramic video on an iPhone 5 and then expanded into computer vision. They got sold to Carvana and we killed it. It was really, really good.

WALLACE: Well, you say you killed it. What did you invest?

CUBAN: I think I invested $250,000 and ended up with $22 million.

WALLACE: You ended up --


WALLACE: Why didn't you call me?


WALLACE: And what was the worst investment?

CUBAN: There's a long list of really bad ones. Sometimes, you know, sometimes you invest in the entrepreneurs as opposed to the business. And I've had entrepreneurs take the money and not even show up from there. And so I've had a few stinkers along the way.

WALLACE: So, speaking of stinkers, you've had some uncomfortable moments. Those were the comfortable moments.

CUBAN: Right.

WALLACE: You've had some uncomfortable moments on "Shark Tank." Let's look at one of them.

CUBAN: Uh-oh.


RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GROUP: Could we possibly come in with $300,000 and maybe for 10 percent.

CUBAN: No, no, no, Sir Richard Branson. It has to be 600.

BRANSON: OK, I think the water just has to --

(LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me tell you what I think --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. I'm out of here.


CUBAN: That was a moment.


WALLACE: You looked genuinely ticked off there, were you?

CUBAN: I was, I was.

WALLACE: You supposedly said after that that you never want to be in the same room with Sir Richard again. Is that true?

CUBAN: Not quite like that. I was just like, it's not something I'd look forward to.

WALLACE: Have you been in the same room with him?

CUBAN: No, I have not. Have not. I haven't talked to him since. Not a word.

WALLACE: What's your relationship like with the other sharks, particularly Mr. Wonderful?

CUBAN: We're family. We really, really are. We get together, we go to each other's birthdays, go out to dinner, hang out. And Kevin, you know, he's a self-described Mr. Wonderful, but he's a good guy.


WALLACE: Well, let's talk about your being an entrepreneur, and I don't mean being on somebody else's back. You are famous for getting cold e-mails and your G-mail address is pretty well known.

CUBAN: Yes. Yes.

WALLACE: And you get cold e-mails, pitches, and one of them, a couple of years ago, got you going into something called Cost Plus Drugs. Now what is that?

CUBAN: So there's Dr. Alex Oshmyansky who was a radiologist by trade, who wanted to create a compounding pharmacy that would offer drugs less expensively than they could be currently bought, particularly generics. And I'm like, that's a great idea, but let's do it a little differently. So we started And the challenge with the pharmaceutical industry is the lack of trust.

It is so obfuscated, it is so dark -- you know, no one really knows what anything costs, no one really knows why things are done. So I made the decision, let's create some radical transparency in Cost Plus Drugs. So if you go to and put in whatever medication that you take you'll not end up -- WALLACE: We're talking about generics.

CUBAN: We'll be adding branded drugs, and I expect that that's not going to stop. We'll keep on adding more and more. But initially now we're up to about 859,000 generic drugs.

WALLACE: OK. So you say you go in, you put down the drug you want.

CUBAN: Put the name in. Right. And when it comes up, then not only will you see the price that we sell it for, but you'll see the price that we pay for it. So if we pay $10, we mark it up 15 percent, so the price of the drug becomes $11.50. Then we add $3 for pharmacy handling fee and $5 for shipping. That's it. And by doing it and taking that approach, you can see what our markups are, obviously, but it ends up being so much less expensive than anywhere else. We're often saving people 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent.

WALLACE: All right. I mean, I was going to ask you that. You talk about the relatively low markup. How much -- if I go to my drugstore and I want to get a generic drug, what's it going to cost me at my drugstore as opposed to getting it from Cost Plus Drugs?

CUBAN: It depends on the prescription, who prescribed it and where you're picking it up because a lot of times, you know, I said there's no transparency in the drug industry. The pharmacists often don't even know what the price is going to be when you walk in and hand them the precipitation or go in to pick up your prescription. They just see the price that's being charged and they charge it to you.

And so often, particularly in the big retail chains, there's things that we'll sell for $7 to $8, that they'll try to charge $300 for. I mean --

WALLACE: Not really?

CUBAN: No, for real. For real. I always pronounce (INAUDIBLE), you know, some words you can't just get them out, right?


CUBAN: But it's for leukemia. So a drug for leukemia. And the retail price is $2,000. And the discount price that a lot of major pharmacies --

WALLACE: This is, what, for a month's supply?

CUBAN: Yes, a month's supply of pills, right, for leukemia patients.


CUBAN: And they'll -- the retail price will be $2,000. Their discounted price might be $995. And ours is $39.

WALLACE: I mean, that's not just a matter of savings, that's a matter of life and death.

CUBAN: It's life changing.

WALLACE: I hear, and please tell me as a "Shark Tank" fan that this is not true, that you are so committed to Cost Plus Drugs that you are considering leaving the show?

CUBAN: Yes, and it's not so much Cost Plus Drugs as it is having a daughter who just went away to college. When they're all in high school and went to the same two schools, all of our schedules could be worked out together. But it was more a question of wanting to spend more time with my family. But they came to me, the "Shark Tank" came to me after our live show the other day and made me promise I'd come back for at least one more season.


CUBAN: After that, I don't know.

WALLACE: I read somewhere that you said the upside of being Mark Cuban, of having my wealth, is obvious, but there's also a downside because -- get the quote right, you, quote, "kind of lost that piss and vinegar."

CUBAN: I think I said that before Cost Plus Drugs. You know, has really revitalized my energy, if you will, because as I said the opportunity to change the pharmaceutical industry in a way that makes it more affordable, so that people are healthier, that people don't have to make these choices, what's better than that? And if what I leave to my kids is just people asking them -- I remember -- or telling them, I remember when your dad started Cost Plus Drugs, and the impact it had on me. That's a piss and vinegar builder.



WALLACE: When we come back, Mark Cuban reveals the secret behind the sideline tantrums aimed at NBA refs. And I ask him what's next.


WALLACE: Will you consider again running for president?


WALLACE: And later, the man who discovered Whitney Houston, legendary music producer Clive Davis on the first artist who really tested his so-called golden ear.



WALLACE: Welcome back to "WHO'S TALKING." In 1999, Mark Cuban went from little-known internet pioneer to famous tech mogul in the blink of an eye. We continue our conversation with his first big purchase after striking it rich.


WALLACE: One of the things that a new billionaire can do is they can buy a sports team.


WALLACE: And within months, you go ahead and buy the Dallas Mavericks, NBA, professional basketball team, for $275 million.


WALLACE: And the last I saw it is valued at $2.7 billion.

CUBAN: Not bad, is it?


WALLACE: So that's like 10 times.

CUBAN: Yes, that's the way the math works. Yes, I mean, that's only if you want to sell it, though, and I don't. I'm really hoping that it becomes a legacy company for my kids. Running a sports team in this day and age is not easy with social media. There's as much hate as there is love, if not more. But at the same time, basketball is a sport I'm passionate about. I love owning the Mavs. I love being part of the team and trying to win and the competitive side of it. So hopefully that carries on to my kids.


WALLACE: Is it sort of boys and their toys? I mean, is that -- is that --?

CUBAN: Yes. Yes.

I mean, it's not a business first. I mean, I don't run it to make money. I mean, I get -- when there is a last second shot, Spencer Dinwiddie hits the last second shot, I get to run on the floor and dogpile with everybody else. I get to go before the game, right, and I get to get shots up in any arena we're playing in.

But the idea that, you know, there's a basketball court that's about to play an NBA game, and I get to just go out there and make 10 threes in a row. What's better than that?

WALLACE: Now, that's the first thing you said to me -- over the years, you've given some money back to the NBA, however.


WALLACE: $3 million in fines.

CUBAN: Is that what it is now?

WALLACE: That's what our crack research team says. Complaining about the refs, complaining to the refs. Has it been worth it?

CUBAN: Yes, absolutely. There has been a lot of changes.

WALLACE: $3 million worth?

CUBAN: Yes. I mean, the therapy, the yelling industry, you know, I'm typically really, really calm outside of a Mavs game, but for some reason, during the game that's when all -- everything just comes out. All the stress comes right out, and sometimes, the things I say, if we lose, the NBA doesn't like, but I'm okay with that.

WALLACE: So I'm -- we're showing pictures of you here. And, you know, I just wonder, one of the pictures is you coming out on the court after a game? I think you got fined $100,000.00 for that. I mean, is that really worth it to you?

CUBAN: Yes. I mean, you've got -- yes.

WALLACE: Does it do any good or is it just --

CUBAN: Yes, rules have been changed. Rules have been changed.

WALLACE: Such as?

CUBAN: The game has been changed. You know, in terms of clear path file, right? I used to always -- there is a thing where if you stop a fast break, and they used to only give one shot plus the ball, right?

And I showed them the math, I used to get so mad -- and I showed them the math that it should be two shots, otherwise, you reward the defensive team for the foul. Right now, there's a thing called the rip through and I'm just arguing left and right, and you'll probably see me get fined again during the season because they refuse to change it yet, but they will.

WALLACE: You've gotten into something of a running battle with Senator Elizabeth Warren.


WALLACE: And it started when you took her out or took her on for what you said demonizing people who are wealthy.

CUBAN: Right.

WALLACE: And she fired back.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Mark Cuban and his kind need to pay their taxes and we need to change the laws, so they're not written just by the lobbyists for Mark Cuban and his buddies, so that they don't get exploited, so they don't get to take advantage of every one of the loopholes they've built in. We need to change the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: You said recently, going back at her, part of this running war, that she is everything that's wrong with politics.

CUBAN: So first of all, "Mark Cuban and his buddies." My buddies aren't rich. My buddies are my high school friends, my college friends. It's not like there is a collective of people who try to change tax law.

Second, I don't lobby anybody for changes in tax law. I wrote a blog post probably almost 20 years ago, saying, after military service, the most patriotic thing you can do is pay your taxes. I have no problem.

I think three -- four years ago now, last time I checked, I paid 19 percent in taxes and the year after that, I paid 29 percent of taxes. And I've said many times, if you want to take the top tax rate from 37 to 38 to 39, I'm fine with that.

Where she went wrong is one just, without asking me, check with me, doing anything, right? You know, "my kind." I mean, that's what's wrong with politics. When you demonize anybody --

Look, she was a waitress, she deserves all the credit in the world. She busted her ass to go from being a waitress and starting and being a single parent to being a multimillionaire. Good for her.

But what about her kind? Should she be judged, just based off of our pocketbook? Was it okay to listen to me when I was poor and sleeping on the floor, but not okay to listen to what I have to say because I'm wealthy now?

WALLACE: And what's the point that you're pandering to a certain group of voters?

CUBAN: Yes. Right. That's -- you know, that's what politics is today. Who can I cast aspersions at? Who can I demonize to make them look like the bad guy, so I look like the good one, right?

WALLACE: All of which raises the question, Mark, will you consider again, running for President?


WALLACE: Well, let me -- well, that was quick.

CUBAN: Really quick.

WALLACE: You considered it in 2020.


WALLACE: And you did play with it for a while.

CUBAN: Sure.

WALLACE: And your family ended up voting no.

CUBAN: Yes, four to one.

WALLACE: And now, the question is, 2024?



CUBAN: Because I think I am going to have more impact outside. I think what I'm doing with Cost Plus Drugs is just the start. I think we could truly absolutely, 10 years from now, when we look back, you'll say Cost Plus Drugs was an inflection point in the changing of the entire pharmaceutical industry. We just revolutionize it.

WALLACE: I'm not denigrating that in any way, shape, or form. You think that's bigger than being President of the United States.


CUBAN: Absolutely. Because I don't think -- you know, Presidents take credit for more things than they do and they're criticized for more things than they do and I just don't think the President of the United States has near the impact as an entrepreneur in this particular industry can.

WALLACE: I think most people would say and I think most people who just watch this show would say that you wear your success and your money, your wealth lightly. That you seem to enjoy it the way they think they would enjoy it, if they were this successful. Isn't it cool and as fun being Mark Cuban as it seems?

CUBAN: Ninety-nine percent of the time. Yes.

The only downside is some of the pressure put on my kids being my -- you know, being my child. It's sometimes not fair to them because they are already labeled as you know, who I am or as opposed to who they are and I'm sure you've dealt with the same thing and your sons, but you know, and then the other side is there's always a camera somewhere. I can't be that same idiot with my friends that I used to be. You know, and that sometimes --

WALLACE: You can leave us on the positive side. What's the positive side?

CUBAN: Oh, the positive side is everything else, right? I mean, oh my goodness. Just being able to wake up every day knowing I can have an impact, being able to wake up every day knowing that there are things that I can enjoy that I never dreamed I'd be able to do.

I mean look, I'm the luckiest son of a gun on the planet. You know, when I die I want to come back as me, let's put it that way.


WALLACE: Up next, legendary music producer, Clive Davis reveals the biggest artist he decided not to sign.



WALLACE: Clive Davis is a five-time Grammy winning record producer who has discovered and work with music icons from Janis Joplin to Bruce Springsteen to Whitney Houston.

So my first question for him, how does he do it?


CLIVE DAVIS, MUSIC PRODUCER: With me, it's just a natural gift, if you will that I never knew I had. There are no metrics. There is no study. It's just both the combination of commonsense, trusting your ear and your instincts.

WALLACE: Over the years, music has evolved from pop and rock to R&B and hip hop with plenty of stops along the way. And you have evolved along with it over as I'd say, half a century. How do you stay current?

DAVIS: You know how you stay current? I worry a lot, and I'm always many years ago, when I was much younger, I was still intent on not going I am not going over the hill. And so, I study it and I work at it.

I keep that work ethic high and I keep my current listening very intense.

WALLACE: Clive, are you ever wrong?

DAVIS: It's a story I really don't know what I've told you before, and I know I only have minutes, whatever it is, I'm going to tell the story.

WALLACE: Good. We like those stories.

DAVIS: The biggest artist that I ever passed on was John Cougar Mellencamp. And --

WALLACE: Really?

DAVIS: When I auditioned, John Mellencamp, he was very close to notice that I did sign at the start, and that was Bruce Springsteen, and so I passed on him.

WALLACE: Let's go back to 1967. You have come to Columbia Records as a lawyer.

DAVIS: Right.

WALLACE: But by now, you're the head of the company even though you don't know that much about music.

You go to the Monterey Pop Festival and there you see a group called Big Brother and the Holding Company with a lead singer named Janis Joplin and here she is and her performance of "Ball and Chain." Take a look.

(Clip of Janis Joplin "Ball and Chain.")

WALLACE: So when you see Janis Joplin. What do you think?

DAVIS: You still get shivers up your spine. There was no one like her. She was one of a kind and I'm sitting in an audience with my wife at the time, not knowing that I'd be seeing young artists. I was really there to see Simon and Garfunkel, the Mamas and Papas, the first Pop Festival.

I'm in a tennis sweater over khaki pants, but I realized it was -- I'm sitting unbeknownst at the beginning of a musical revolution, amplification of the electric guitar for the first time. No way a man or woman with me up there alone, never dreaming that I would ever sign an artist.

WALLACE: Okay, but let's talk about that because you decide to buy the band and its lead singer out of its contract that it already has with another record company for $200,000.00 which was real money back then. And a year later, the band, Joplin, you have a big hit with "Cheap Thrills." How scary for a neophyte like you to sign your first band?

DAVIS: Was I concerned? Was I nervous about it? Absolutely. It was never within my contemplation, but I said, I know in my bones that this is someone that has never appeared on the same white soul system with fervent and electrifying charisma.


WALLACE: So, two years later in 1970, Janis Joplin dies of a heroin overdose and you have your first exposure to artists, young artists and their demons. What did you learn from that?

DAVIS: Other than pain, other than the tragedy of prematurely taking someone that gifted, I guess, the most powerful because I had no idea she was using hard drugs. I knew that she was drinking Southern Comfort or Jack Daniels. I never knew her private life. The power of drugs, no one wins that battle.

WALLACE: In the early 70s, you are dealing with a very different artist, Barry Manilow. I can't imagine two personalities more different than Janis Joplin and Barry Manilow.

By this point, you've started your own new studio Arista and you've come up with this song for Barry. Take a look.


(Clip of Barry Manilow's "Mandy.")

WALLACE: The song goes to number one. Barry Manilow becomes a huge star. Why did you think "Mandy" was the right song for Barry Manilow?

DAVIS: That was the first time I was testing my ears on songs because at Columbia, during that seven or eight-year period, I had signed only self-contained artists, artists, you know that in effect that wrote their own material. Earth, Wind, and Fire and Billy Joel and Springsteen, but with a pop artist and being a brand new label, I had to test, could identify hit songs for artists that didn't write?

The point, Chris, I want to make to you is that Barry Manilow only considered himself a singer/songwriter. So, for me to even suggest that he do an outside song, created not a riff, but a real conversation intense point, will he do an outside song? Because he only called himself as a writer, and he finally did.

WALLACE: Let me pick up on that because, as you say, the rift, if you want to call it that, whatever the difference of opinion is, he is a songwriter. He's going to decide his songs. And you say, I can come up with better material for you and bigger hit material for you and then you come up with this song. Take a look.

DAVIS: Oh, okay.

(Clip of Barry Manilow's "I Write The Songs.")

WALLACE: Which of course, he didn't write. So you're asking him, sing this song called "I Write the Songs" to a songwriter, but it is a song he didn't write. How do we react to that?

DAVIS: Well, he hated that, and it's a famous story. But look, we had a multiyear association and we exchanged -- he wrote hits. Let's not imply that Barry didn't -- he wrote "This One's For You." He wrote "Copacabana." I mean, he wrote "One Voice." And I gave him "Looks Like We Made It," "I Made It Through The Rain."

He would give me two songs after "Mandy" went to number one. He would give me two songs --

WALLACE: Two songs on his album that you could choose for him.

DAVIS: Each album, right, and knock on wood, that each song I gave him, he arranged. He would be part of the creative process. He found what I was thinking, even though the demo always surprised him that I would be submitting it and we really had a fabulous relationship of hit after hit after hit.


WALLACE: Still to come, Clive tells me about the moment he discovered a talented young woman who had become one of the best-selling artists of all time.


DAVIS: This was a unique vocalist who was breathing fire and soul.



[19:53:50] WALLACE: One of the biggest stars music producer Clive Davis ever signed was Whitney Houston. We continue our conversation with the day he first saw her perform.


DAVIS: I knew immediately. I was seeing her at a club called Sweet Waters. Her mother was the star of the show. She was a background singer doing two songs in the middle of her mother's act, and she stepped to the microphone, her choice of material and she sang two songs one was "Home" from the Broadway show "The Wiz," and the other was the "Greatest Love of All," a song I had commissioned for the life of Muhammad Ali. I had the original record with George Benson.

WALLACE: This is 1983 and you remember -- you still remember this specifically?

DAVIS: Absolutely. I mean, of course, it is a lifetime memory.

WALLACE: And what did you think?

DAVIS: I was amazed that she found more meaning and that's all and I believed that Michael Masser and Linda Creed when they wrote it that this was a unique vocalist who was breathing fire and soul and heart into a song I was so familiar with.


DAVIS: I had commissioned it eight years ago and I knew that her gift was unique without question.

WALLACE: In the first two albums that you to do together, she has seven we -- have the picture up here -- of the two of you celebrating a record seven consecutive number one singles, including this one.

(Clip from Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody.")

WALLACE: Now, I heard a story about that song that when you first heard the arrangement, it was kind of light and you said, I've got to put more pop in it. I've got to put more bass in it. Why?

DAVIS: Let me translate what you just said.


DAVIS: I heard --

WALLACE: Because I'm not -- because you understand it better than I do.

DAVIS: I heard the demo from the writers. The writers come to me and they play a demo of the song. And the demo singer could have been Olivia Newton John, and that if you took it literally, you would never think that that is a song that Whitney Houston should record. It was much too middle of the road mainstream pop, but in my head, you hear -- I heard an arrangement and knowing Whitney's soulfulness -- natural soulfulness -- I knew that she would sing "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," but that she would make the audience feel I want to go to bed with someone.

She knew -- she would come up with the sexuality and the heat of it in the arrangement that we work on so that it's not literally adopting and doing a demo the way you hear the demo. It's what the demo should be translated into and Whitney and I collaborated all of those years and we were right on the same plane.

WALLACE: So now I'm going to ask a tough question, Clive, because you've had so many artists over so many years, and there's so many big egos. Is Whitney, the artist of your career?

DAVIS: Well, I would say from the point of view of discovering of artists have been an issue right from the start. I think that Whitney and Patti Smith -- it is hard to compare.

Whitney and Patti Smith and Earth, Wind, and Fire perhaps with Springsteen -- you can't compare it.

WALLACE: So, here it is like a mafia, which is your friend for child?

DAVIS: Exactly.

WALLACE: Of course, the Whitney story doesn't end so well. There was the obvious drug problems and at one point, you staged intervention at your home in Pound Ridge, New York and try to get her into rehab and warned her about what happened to Janis Joplin.

And then in 2012, on the day of your famous Grammy Eve, the big party you would throw, the night before the Grammys, you find out that she has died of an overdose. How devastating given you know, you said, we were like this, how devastating that you couldn't save her?

DAVIS: It's painful to think about it. It was intensely painful to learn of it.

Anyone, of course, the family member knows what the pain of losing a loved one was, so that this was not just an artist that I was professionally involved with. We had a friendship. I knew that she was flirting with disaster not being able to eventually cure herself of her drug problem. She valiantly tried, she went to rehab. We thought that she had beaten it. So, it was intensely painful.

WALLACE: At age 90, you are the Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment. How involved are you still in finding artists and material and, this is the one question I'm going to ask you that you're going to get mad at me -- when are you going to retire?

DAVIS: I don't think of retirement as long as I'm having fun, so that I love what I do. I'm challenged by it. I love it and I'm grateful.

My parents died, my mother from high blood pressure and my father from high blood pressure. She was 47, he was 56.

I take a pill every morning that the deals with that issue, so that I'm grateful that I still have the energy and the passion and as long as I can do it, I will do it.


WALLACE: There is so much more of my conversation with Clive Davis, as well as our sit-downs with Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Mark Cuban. You can catch the full interviews anytime you want on HBO Max.

Thanks for watching, and please join us here on CNN every Sunday night to find out WHO'S TALKING next.