An annual night of celebration was born out of tragedy.
Forty years ago, CBS Records executive Tony Martell lost his 19-year-old son to leukemia and soon thereafter launched the T.J. Martell Foundation in his honor. In the time since, the organization has raised more than $270 million through auctions and independent donations for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. Industry legend Clive Davis, who this year was honored with a fellowship created in his name, served on the foundation’s original board and provided offices to help the Martell family jump-start the organization.
“I know that Tony and Vicky have turned the tragic passing of their son into an event, into a cause, that has saved so many lives,” Davis told Billboard. “It’s a special event for all of us in music.”
The night featured touching performances from acts that included Foreigner, Pat Monahan of Train, REO Speedwagon and Australian singer Grace. “It’s something everybody can get behind,” rocker Alice Cooper, a longtime supporter, told Billboard. Among those honored: Guggenheim Media Entertainment Group co-president/chief creative officer Janice Min and co-president John Amato, Palm Restaurant Group co-chairmen/co-owners Bruce Bozzi Sr. and Wally Ganzi, Harman International chairman/president/CEO Dinesh Paliwal and fashion designer/record executive John Varvatos.