When music industry legend Clive Davis pulled up in a sparkling black Audi Saturday afternoon, Park Ridge was ready for him.
A line of people formed out the door of Menchie's Frozen Yogurt waiting for Davis to autograph their copies of his book, The Soundtrack of My Life. Inside, singer-songwriter Kim Schaefer of Park Ridge was all set to audition for him, and Brian Kerwin of Glenview, who had read the book, was looking forward to a chat with him.
Both Schaefer and Kerwin had won a raffle for a chance to spend 15 minutes with Davis; Schawfer was the winner from the Park Ridge Menchie's and Kerwin won at the Glenview location.
Davis was visiting the frozen yogurt shop because he's a good friend of Randy Sturges, the owner.
Sturges gave the starmaker a brief tour of the shop, and it was on to the party room, where Schaefer, 23 and a recent Elmhurst College graduate, strapped on her guitar for her audition. She had just come from playing a gig at a festival in Long Grove.
After she sang two songs, including one she had written, Davis complimented her with, "It shows you do have talent both as a singer and a songwriter." He suggested the most most likely area of commercial success would be in country music, which is burgeoning and trying out new styles.
It would likely require a move to Nashville--or, it she were more interested in pop music, to Los Angeles, he added.
This reporter was able to sit down with Davis for a quick chat. With all the talented singers and performers throughout the country, we asked, how does he distinguish those who have the potential to be superstars?
For a songwriter, he said, the test is whether their material has a distinctive uniqueness.
For a vocalist, it's "Can they lift an audience out of their seats? Can they be a headliner?" he said.
Continuing on that theme, we asked if, and how, the celebrities he knows are different from regular folks.
It depends why they've gotten into the spotlight, he replied. Some people have become celebrities because of their immense talent.
"Just because somebody's famous is not necessarily special," he said. "People are people. You find at the core, the human element is in play no matter who the person is.
"But if you're dealing with an artist and they've earned your respect..." he said, adding that some people have become famous because, whether they're a great writer, director, singer or musician, they have used their talent to move other people and affect their lives.
Then it was time for Davis to greet people waiting for him to sign copies of his book. Outside the party room, where he had been stationed, Pam St. George of Park Ridge was one of the first in line.
She said she had come because of Clive Davis' great reputation.
"I love music, and he is just an icon," she said.
Richard Freeman, also of Park Ridge, echoed those sentiments.
"He's a music legend," Freeman said. "What he's done for the music industry is beyond words. He signed some of the greatest acts that have ever been done."