Photo by Marion Ettlinger.
Don Silver was born and raised in Philadelphia, studied business in college and moved to New York City in the late 1970s, where he worked as an A&R man for Clive Davis of Arista Records, as an independent record producer, and as an artist manager.
In his mid-twenties, he returned to Philadelphia and ran a mid-sized manufacturing company and in 1999, took an MFA in writing at Bennington College. That same year, he quit corporate life to finish his first novel, Backward-Facing Man, which Publisher's Weekly called "a complex beautifully turned out thriller."
Excerpts from Clive: Working for the Man in the Age of Vinyl
"What everyone thinks of as the sixties really didn’t begin until the end of the decade, so being a pre-adolescent in the suburbs in 1966 and 1967 was more like being a kid in the fifties. There were teachers with helmet hairdos and skirts over their knees who taught us manners and the names of countries that no longer exist. There were crossing guards on the corners, units on civics and citizenship, and a bank-sponsored program called Little Savers that had us marching once a week, clutching our little nickels, single file to the auditorium to learn the virtues of saving and the miracles of compound interest. There were a handful of African American kids in each grade and a black custodian who tipped his hat when our mothers walked by, but by and large, our neighborhood, like many other suburban enclaves, was white, right, and very uptight."
"Sometimes, a random-seeming comment, gesture, or event happens that reinforces the idea that despite everything that’s going wrong, one’s dreams are perfectly rational. One such moment came for me around then when I picked up a paperback copy of Clive: Inside the Record Business, which told the story of a Brooklyn born lawyer who at a young age became General Counsel and then Chief Operating Officer of Columbia Records, attended the Monterey Pop Festival, signed Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana, and then a shitload of seminal artists most of whom are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
"I had arrived at the place where dreams came to die and I was the reaper, the slayer of unrealistic hope…the embodiment of every artist’s inner critic. With a considerable amount of delight, I was starting to realize I was going to be paid—not much, but no one needed to know that—to tell people as nicely as possible that they sucked."