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We Read Tommy Mottola’s Biography So You Didn’t Have To – The Final Part

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Tommy 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 the final part 4/4.


Mariah and Tommy at the Grammies


Mariah is Not Connie Francis

After the success of “Music Box“, Tommy Mottola suggested to Mariah that she create a Christmas album. All the great artists he had grown up with had put out Christmas albums, and it was simply part of their repertoire. Everyone at Sony supported his idea except for one person: Mariah herself. Even though she loved Christmas and it was one of her happiest memories, she resisted the idea.

Mariah Carey initially rejected the idea of a Christmas album, perhaps because she feared it would be uncool to her hip-hop fanbase. After much discussion, she eventually came around to the idea and partnered with Walter Afanasieff to create new songs and cover classic Christmas carols. They even created a home video with Tommy dressed up as Santa. The resulting album is considered by Tommy Mottola to be “the single greatest modern Christmas album”. Mariah came up with the idea of a sexy Santa outfit on the album cover, but when she saw the final product, she asked: “What are you trying to do, turn me into Connie Francis?”. Tommy walked away and laughed that she even knew who Connie Francis was.

Mariah and Tommy Santa Claus All I want for christmas is you


Mariah Carey’s rendering of “All I Want for Christmas is You” has taken on a life of its own and become a modern Christmas classic, being played as much as any popular song. TV news broadcasts frequently use it as their intro and outro. Other artists like Michael Bublé and Justin Bieber covered it on their albums. Mariah’s gospel rendition of “Joy to the World” broadcast from the Cathedral Church of Saint John The Divine remains a personal favorite to Tommy as a stellar vocal performance. “Merry Christmas” sold over 20 million copies worldwide and almost 3 million in Japan alone, despite its Buddhist faith.

Besides the success of the album, Tommy Mottola was pleased to learn from a recent magazine article quoting Mariah Carey, in which she acknowledged that she initially resisted creating the album but now considered it one of her favorites. She also participated in a televised Christmas special with her mother, adding to the memories and Christmas songs she hopes to share with her children. Amidst the conflicts occurring between them, Tommy and the rest of Sony Music feared for her career since Mariah wanted to go in the opposite direction of a broader audience. Her choices could potentially alienate her wide fanbase.

Endless Love

Luther Vandross was a highly talented R&B singer, and many believed he had the ability to sell at least 5 million albums per release. But to achieve this goal, he needed to be receptive to experimenting with new producers, songwriters, and trying new things. When Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola were driving together, Tommy asked Mariah for suggestions on Luther’s upcoming tribute album. She quickly suggested that they collaborate on “Endless Love“, since Vandross was one of her favorite singers.

Tommy Mottola loved the idea of collaborating with Luther Vandross to release a duet of the classic track “Endless Love” for an upcoming album where Luther pays tribute to his inspirations. Tommy had to walk on eggshells to ask Luther about the project and manage Sony’s expectations. Luther went along with the plan and both he and Mariah were happy with the outcome. The single quickly climbed the charts and ended up selling millions. However, the rest of the tracks featured on the album and personally chosen by Luther did not perform as well, leading Luther to think that they only made the single successful because Mariah was on it.

Daydream or Nightmare?

Mariah Carey was enjoying a career full of successes, and each album she put out was bordering on being a landmark. She dedicated a lot of effort into her next album, “Daydream“, and the company was doing their best to bring in the right people and resources. Dave Hall, who had been working with Mary J. Blige, was brought onboard. Boyz II Men were enlisted to sing on “One Sweet Day”. Jermaine Dupri, a hot young producer at the time, joined to work on “Always Be My Baby”. The final product was a well-rounded album that had something for every fan while also forging a new path. Tommy was a bit unsure about collaborating with Ol’ Dirty Bastard on the song “Fantasy”, as he had his own struggles with addiction, but he admitted that he was wrong and that Mariah was right all along. The remix was a hit and ODB’s street poetry was the perfect compliment to Mariah’s princess-like pop image.

After watching Mariah Carey direct her own music video for “Fantasy” and seeing the result of the collaboration with Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Tommy Mottola was convinced that the video would be successful. The song sounded like airy summer breezes and the boardwalk, so Tommy suggested the setting of Rye Playland as a fitting backdrop. After seeing Mariah rollerblade and dance on a Hummer against the backdrop of amusement park lights, he admitted the success of the video. And it went straight to number one. However, Mariah had a different perspective. She felt that the video had broken the dam for her and reinforced her decision to pursue the hip-hop direction for good.

Tommy Mottola was concerned about Mariah Carey’s desire to reframe her career in a more hip hop direction. His advice was to try to reach multiple demographics and retain all her existing fans. However, Mariah was adamant in her decision and felt she could explore her creativity more fully by going down this path. This caused a rift between them at Sony Music and at home. Gloria Estefan and Music Executive Michele Anthony add in the book that, despite his controlling behavior, Tommy’s obsession was a sign of his genuine love and faith in Mariah’s talent and potential.

Mariah Carey Gloria Estefan


The Scammies

Mariah and Tommy traveled to Los Angeles for the Grammys in February 1996, confident and excited to see Mariah win multiple awards due to the success of her Daydream album. The team arranged a collaboration with Boyz II Men for the opening show at the Shrine auditorium, performing “One Sweet Day”. The song had broken Elvis’ and The Beatles’ record for most weeks at #1, and the song’s message touched both Mariah and Boyz II Men, due to recent losses they had both suffered. The nominees for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals included Mariah and was considered a definite win.

Tommy Mottola was disappointed when the Grammys award for Best Pop Collaboration went to another band, rather than the collaboration Mariah had with Boyz II Men. He tried to stay calm and encouraged her by reminding her that she still had more categories they could win. However, their next nomination, for “Fantasy” in the Pop Vocal category, was lost to Annie Lennox’s song, “No More I Love You’s”. Mariah was heavily invested in the song and wanted to earn hip-hop credibility.

At the Oscars, major box-office hits can lose to small independent films. People love supporting underdogs. However, it seemed like something else may be going on at the Grammys. Mariah’s success could be seen as a threat to other artists and producers, which could lead to a backlash against Mariah. Members of NARAS cast their Grammy ballots. However, the voters are biased, since they are constantly competing with each other. They want to be recognized for their creativity, achieve higher chart positions, and sell more records.

The Grammy voters appeared to be sending a message to Mariah, indicating they had the power to bring her down if she became too successful. Mariah felt increasingly tense as the losers were announced for the third, fourth, and fifth categories. The cameras panned to Tommy and Mariah’s faces to see their reactions. Tommy was aware he would eventually be blamed, as he was the face of the big machine that had propelled Mariah to the top spot.

As the Grammy Awards came to a close, Alanis Morissette was given the award for Album of the Year for “Jagged Little Pill”. Mariah was left embarrassed and angry as they returned to the Beverly Hills Hotel. At the after-party, the relationship between the two grew further apart, with Tommy quietly asking to remove the playback of the Grammy broadcast on the monitors and replace it with videos of their artists. The company had 7 Grammy winners and a celebration was in order, but Tommy still felt terrible for Mariah’s public humiliation and anger. The divide between them continued to widen.

Mariah and Tommy's mansion in Bedford - Sing Sing


If Mariah had won a few Grammys, the night may have helped put a bandaid on the deeper issues in their relationship. But her shut-out created a new dynamic, with tension on both sides. Even simple words Tommy said were sometimes taken the wrong way. A Columbia Records executive had called Mariah a “franchise” but she took it negatively, comparing herself to McDonald’s. She joked that her property in Bedford was just like Sing Sing, a prison, as if the mansion had become a prison where she was forced to record songs. Even though she loved writing and producing songs in her recording studio, the joke persisted.

The success that Mariah had with help from Sony and Tommy had made her feel like a bird locked up in a cage. Her assistants also adopted a new attitude, such as “We’re going on a trip, and Sony’s not coming.” Meanwhile, Mariah would hang out at clubs and return at daybreak while Tommy stayed at home sleeping. This led to distrust and anxiety and everything seemed like a “lose-lose.” No amount of good intentions were enough to save the situation.

As Tommy and Mariah’s relationship crumbles, the media attention only intensifies. A reporter from Vanity Fair reached out, hoping to do a profile on Tommy. He cooperated but was aware it could be a “hatchet job”. While he hoped to discuss the company’s success, the writer had a different agenda, digging up dirt about Tommy and Mariah. The photographer even lowered the blinds during a photoshoot, making him look like a sinister don. In the end, the story was full of ethnic slurs written by the reporter.

The writer misrepresented Tommy’s father, who was a kind and family man, and that upset him especially. Even after the story, Mariah never commented on it and her entourage seemed to participate. Tommy worked hard to protect Mariah, but she came from a life with no rules or regulations and had to adjust to a life full of overwhelming responsibility. It was too much for her to handle and maybe even made her feel like she lost control of her life.

Tommy Mottola cover of Vanity Fair


If Tommy appeared controlling in any way, he apologizes. Being obsessive was one of the reasons behind Mariah’s and Tommy’s success. However, he was the chairman of Sony and Mariah’s husband, which caused tension. She was left resentful and blamed Tommy for everything. The problem was being chairman and husband, as Tommy was the first and last person Mariah saw every day. One day, he left a note on the night table, with the lyrics from Bernie Taupin’s song written for Elton John, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight:

“Butterflies are free to fly… Fly away…”

The separation between Tommy and Mariah led to divorce and the sale of the fairy-tale home. There were deep and complex feelings on both sides, yet the fairy-tale ended in an extraordinary way. After the couple separated, the home caught fire and burned to the ground. This marked the end of a once idyllic marriage, a relationship, a partnership.

The End

This is a summary of Tommy Mottola’s biography, but it only contains a fraction of the details. Many stories involving Mariah, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, and other Sony artists were not mentioned. While details from Mariah’s memoir and the J.Lo incident were not addressed by Tommy, the book is a very interesting read that we would highly recommend.

Tommy Mottola Biography The Hitmaker

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