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    Clive Davis Takes O-Town to the Top

    Old hitmakers don't retire. They just keep on makin' hits. Just ask Clive Davis.

    After being forced out of Arista Records earlier this year, the Hall of Fame producer and label chief has launched a new imprint; signed a new band, O-Town (from ABC's reality series Making the Band); and scored a number one single.

    O-Town's sugarcoated "Liquid Dreams" landed on top of the Billboard charts in its first week of release.

    The auspicious debut marks the first time a new artist from a new label has entered the charts at number one, according to Billboard.

    "It just is very gratifying--it's a thrill," Davis told the Associated Press.

    O-Town's bubblegum anthem has ratcheted up sales of more than 42,000 copies its first week in stores and will hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts at number 21, the second-highest entrance this year. The Hot 100 differs from the sales chart because it tracks hits based on sales and the amount of radio airplay they receive.

    And there's no doubt O-Town is hot. Davis says J Records is planning to ship over 500,000 copies of the disc, certifying it gold. The band's rookie album, O-Town, is due in stores next month.

    The 67-year-old Davis, who founded Arista Records 25 years ago and built up the label by discovering such legendary artists as Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana, Prince and Whitney Houston, stepped down as president in June after the label's German-based parent company BMG Entertainment enforced its mandatory retirement policy upon him.

    But instead of dissolving their relationship, BMG helped Davis start J Records, which, according to BMG reps, is the biggest record company ever launched.

    Now having scored a major hit, Davis and company look to be starting strong. The label has already convinced other artists to climb aboard, including Luther Vandross and Deborah Cox, and is betting on the continued strength of the youth market and bands like O-Town.

    Some critics attribute O-Town's success on the charts to their TV exposure on Making the Band, ABC's docuseries that charted the creation of the group. But Davis, who knows the ins and outs of the music biz better than anyone, has a different take.

    "If it just takes having a television show, then anybody who stars in a television show could make an album and have hit singles, and that has not been the case," said Davis. "So there's something unique here."

    With ABC planning to follow O-Town around for another season of Band, kicking off in March, and considering his hit-making history, Davis and J will likely keep making beautiful music at the cash register for the forseeable future.

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