Tommy Mottola Biography

Business Leader (1948–)
Tommy Mottola is a high-powered music executive who is credited with launching the careers of Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and Celine Dion, among others.


Tommy Mottola was born July 1, 1948, in the Bronx in New York City. A college dropout, Mottola joined Sony Music Entertainment in 1988 and eventually became its chairman and chief executive. His eye for talent and lavish expenditures on his stars turned the label into a powerhouse. In 2003, Sony ousted Mottola. He later signed a deal to launch a new record label, Casablanca Records, with Universal Music Group

Early Years

Music executive Thomas Daniel Mottola, Jr. was born on July 1, 1948, in New York City. Mottola grew up in the Bronx in largely middle class Italian family. As a child Mottola had a reputation for getting into a trouble and after running away from home, his parents sent him to military school for a time.

Mottola's overriding passion was for music and performance. After high school he briefly attended Hofstra University on Long Island but dropped out to pursue a career as a singer and actor. Mottola, who also plays guitar, was a member of an R&B cover band called The Exotics.

His life found some stability in 1971 when he married Lisa Clark, whose father, Sam Clark, was the head of ABC Records. Mottola, who converted to Judaism in order to marry into the Clark family, has two children with Lisa. The couple divorced in 1990.

Not quite ready to give up his career as a musician, Mottola released an album on CBS Records in the early 1970s. But when the record failed to gain any commercial traction, Mottola, saw a brighter future for himself on the management side of the business.

He eventually started his own management company, Champion Entertainment Organization. One of his earliest and biggest clients was the pop duo, Hall & Oates, which he helped usher to multi-platinum success. His other artists included John Mellencamp and Carly Simon.

In an industry undergoing a lot of change, Mottola proved to have not just good eye for talent but a keen understanding of what these new opportunities meant for the business. Early on he embraced music videos to promote his artists and helped pioneer the use of corporate sponsorships.

The Road Back

Not surprisingly, Mottola was quick to land on his feet. Not long after leaving Sony, he partnered with Universal Music Group to start his own label, Casablanca Records. The label's artists include Lindsay Lohan, among others. In October 2010, Mottola inked a deal to publish a memoir, The Last Starmaker, which he promises will tell the full story of his early life, his career at Sony, and his rocky marriage to Carey.

Since 2000, Tommy Mottola has been married to the Mexican-born pop artist, Thalia. They have two children together, a son, Matthew, and a daughter, Sabrina.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!