Since divorcing him more than a decade ago, Mariah Carey doesn’t say much about her first marriage to record exec Tommy Mottola. She does, however, deny any charges that he made her career. Mottola has a different point of view on that point, which he expounded on in a new memoir. Tommy seems to think no matter what of the “private hell” Mariah claimed he put her through, she ought to be grateful for the creative decisions he thrust upon her.
Carey would soon learn who she was married to: the more famous she became, the more Mottola constrained her. When she talked about wanting to record younger, more modern stuff — hip-hop and R&B-driven — Mottola shut her down, demanding she sing treacly power ballads such as “Hero,” which she openly loathed. He made Carey do a Christmas album — Christmas, he writes, is his favorite holiday — and when she sardonically asked him if he was trying to turn her into Connie Francis, he nearly laughed in her face: “How the hell,” he writes, “does she even know who Connie Francis is?”
To this day Mottola maintains that Carey must be grateful that he forced these decisions upon her. That Christmas album, he points out, has sold more than 20 million copies. “Helloooo!” he writes.
As Carey kept agitating to work with artists who were young and actually relevant, Mottola’s roster was aging and decaying: Billy Joel, Hall & Oates, Gloria Estefan, the rapidly unraveling Michael Jackson — these were his priorities in a landscape dominated by alternative rock and hip-hop.
When, in 1993, she released the single she fought so hard for — “Fantasy,” a wild mash-up that sampled Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” and featured a cameo interlude by Ol’ Dirty Bastard — she was proven right.
Mottola clamped down even harder. Carey was relegated to the Bedford, NY, mansion he had built, a 20,000-square-foot residence replete with gourmet kitchen, recording studio, indoor shooting range and surveillance cameras everywhere. Carey had two bodyguards assigned to her at all times, even when she went to the bathroom. She called the house “Sing Sing” — a morbid reference to her caged-bird status.
Mottola himself did nothing to soften his own image, and a 1996 Vanity Fair profile proved deadly, portraying him as an uneducated thug with questionable taste who had muscled his way to the top. The article noted that Mottola drove around in an armored limo, carried a 9mm Glock in his briefcase, and had such dubious connections that Sony
Music asked the FBI to carry out a background check before hiring him. (The verdict: He was clean, his friends weren’t.)
Carey was not available for comment at the time. “She won’t be talking,” Mottola told the reporter. “It’s not good for her; it’s not good for me; it’s not good for the company.
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