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We Read Tommy Mottola’s Biography So You Didn’t Have To – Part 3 of 4

Part 2

 Mottola’s biography sheds light on his career as a music industry titan, his marriage to Mariah Carey, and more. We filtered out what the lambs want to know. This is Part 3.

Mariah Carey getting married to Tommy Mottola


Tommy Mottola, who served as chairman of Sony Music, described the relationship he shared with Mariah Carey as a “musical connection.” Carey’s talent in writing and vocal abilities was harnessed with help from Mottola, and their daily conversations were completely aligned, making it possible for her to achieve the same success even if their relationship had been kept solely professional. Looking back, Mottola wished that someone would have had the strength to prevent him from blindly entering the emotional collaboration, especially since many had warned him against it. Despite these warnings, Mottola allowed himself to be blinded by a fairy-tale collaboration and success.

As 1992 drew near, Mariah and Tommy Mottola were in total agreement about their next steps. Mariah’s vocals on “Emotions” were so unique it had critics wondering if the studio had altered her voice to create such a sound. With Mariah never having gone on a live tour, no one had seen her perform live to counter these allegations. However, those at Sony Music knew of her amazing voice. But public opinion can make or break a career. With this in mind, Mottola sought the perfect way to prove Mariah’s prowess – and landed on MTV Unplugged.

Mariah Carey MTV Unplugged


As MTV continued to grow and rise in popularity, its Unplugged series was becoming one of the hottest shows around. Created in 1989 and gaining a significant rise in popularity after Paul McCartney’s performance, the show was the perfect stage for Mariah Carey to showcase her voice in a raw and natural state. Although there was risk involved – as Mariah had not had the opportunity to develop in small clubs and venues – the company stood behind her and made a deal with MTV for a live performance. Despite her inexperience in concert, the company believed in Mariah and was willing to roll the dice.

When Mariah Carey stepped onto the MTV Unplugged stage wearing a black leather jacket and jeans, she immediately dispelled the rumors about her studio voice with a breathtaking rendition of “Emotions.” She delivered her hits accompanied by a microphone and a piano, violinists, guitarists, drums, and a choir. For the grand finale, Carey blew fans away with a performance of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” that is still regarded as the second-best rendition of the song – and, in the author’s opinion, will always hold that spot. Fans were so overwhelmed by the concert that MTV repeatedly aired it.

During a writing session for Mariah’s next album, Tommy Mottola visited the studio one night and informed them that Columbia Pictures was working on a film called Hero, starring Dustin Hoffman and Geena Davis, and that they were thinking of asking Gloria Estefan to perform the title track. After telling them the story and asking if they could write a theme song, Mottola headed out for dinner. When he returned, though, he found Mariah and Walter Afanasieff had almost completed a song they wanted to share with him. Mottola found it almost too emotionally intense to handle the first time he heard it, and even asked them to stop singing. He felt like it was too much for him to take. When they stopped, they looked at him in confusion, wondering what was wrong. He told them nothing was wrong and that it was actually incredible – the song was like being in the room when Frank Sinatra first sang “My Way” or Barbra Streisand on her first run-through of “People” or Elton John finding the right melody to “Candle in the Wind.” Mottola felt like it would be a song people would still be listening to in 50 years time.

Mariah and Walter Afanasieff collaborating


Tommy Mottola strongly believed that Mariah Carey’s new song was one of the best he’d ever heard, and told her as much. But when he told her that the song would not be part of the movie it was intended for and instead that she should record it for her next album, her smile faded. She was reluctant to sing the song, feeling it was too “white bread” for her. However, after returning to work with Walter Afanasieff, Mariah listened to Tommy’s advice and made the song her own with her style, passion, and soul. They brought in a talented mixer to handle the recording, and Tommy was there during the entire recording.

Mariah Carey’s reaction to hearing the “Hero” playback was one of apprehension. Tommy voices that although she may have truly enjoyed the song, it could be that she felt embarrassed about the song and how it might be received by the hip-hop community. Regardless, the lyrics were her own and her feelings were real. “Music Box” was to be released next, showcasing a great mix of styles, but for Mariah, “Hero” was not even a piece of the pie. But as Tommy saw it, “Hero” was the missing ingredient that would open up every demographic to her and draw in audiences worldwide.

Mariah Carey’s music career presented an almost impossible challenge – to have a presence across all radio formats and demographics. Having a song like “Hero” that could touch every audience was something many can only dream of. Sony fell in love with the song and wanted to include it on her next album. Mariah was not happy about it, maybe viewing Tommy Mottola’s actions as being overly controlling. But once “Hero” proved to be a major hit in every country, with letters from teenagers considering suicide, including being requested for charity events and presidential inaugurations, or singing it after the attack at World Trade Center or as a duet with Luciano Pavarotti, Mariah may have understood the impact this song could have on people later on in life.

Tommy Mottola’s 1993 wedding to Mariah Carey was meticulously planned, yet he cannot remember details of the night. People turned up from the music industry, including Vera Wang as the wedding gown’s designer. When he looks back on it, memories of his children – Sarah crying and Michael comforting her – also come to mind. They were uncomfortable and felt out of place at the wedding and knew things that Tommy was not able to feel at the time.

Many felt that Tommy Mottola’s wedding to Mariah Carey wasn’t right and tried to express their concerns to him. Mickey Schulhof even warned him that the marriage might not last in private conversation. While Tommy wanted to get married, Mariah had never showed any inclination towards marriage and the idea terrified her due to her past notion of it with her family. He was completely caught off guard when she suggested they should marry, and so the fairytale wedding continued regardless.

Mariah Carey Wedding to Tommy Mottola


In Bedford, New York, Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola built a beautiful castle with every amenity anyone could desire. It included a salon, a top-of-the-line recording studio, and even an indoor swimming pool covered by a cloud-painted ceiling. As if all that wasn’t enough, she even told Tommy she wanted to run away to an island and buy a little club where she’d perform and they could just chill and relax together. Unfortunately, though he was smitten by her, Tommy feels he ignored all the warning signs and guzzled the entirety of the fairy-tale…

The Final Part ➡

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