I don’t know. I can only say that I gravitate toward schmaltz. I’m a commoner, not an elitist. Years ago, Rolling Stone said I plunged the dagger into Boz Scaggs’ white suit, but I thought we did a good album together. Boz liked it. So I’m not a Rolling Stone favorite. It’s O.K.
Rolling Stone magazine also called you the master of “bombastic pop kitsch.” What was the song that cemented that? Was it Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration?”
No. I would say it was Earth, Wind and Fire’s “After the Love is Gone.”
You’ve said that Maurice White, of Earth, Wind and Fire, is the singer you learned the most from. Why?
Because he did Jazz, Pop, R&B, Country. Because you name the genre and he could do it.
Tell me about Celine Dion. When she walks into the studio, does that voice just come soaring out?
Celine Dion is the person every singer should study, whether you like her singing or hate it. How she’s raised her children. How she’s been in her marriage. How she’s been in her shows. How she takes care of her voice. How she treats people. And yes, when she opens her mouth that voice just comes out.
You’ve also been quoted saying that you love her because she does what she’s told.
For a guy like me who wants to get his licks in, it’s great. She can interpret exactly what I want at all times. She’s so amenable. I think that’s to her credit. When I asked Whitney for something, she would give me something different. Sometimes it was better, sometimes it was not as good. But it was never what I imagined.
Did you feel you knew Whitney Houston?
I felt I did not. We never had an argument. We never had a problem. But it was not like Natalie Cole, where we were great friends right up until she died.
And you did how many songs with Whitney?
Over the course of twenty years.
It was a surface relationship. I don’t read anything into the fact that we weren’t close. Don’t you have people you work with who you don’t really know?
Different levels of success. Different level of tragedy. Who was the most difficult superstar to work with?
I’m not answering that, but it’s none of the obvious people. It’s not Whitney. It’s not Natalie. It’s not Madonna.
Although Madonna was not always nice to you when you collaborated on her ballads collection in 1995. She was constantly telling you how uncool you were.
She was right. I was uncool. Madonna was also a great co-producer. She arrived at 9 a.m., was there until the very end, and had great ideas about how to make the music sound better.
Is Barbra Streisand ever not exacting?
You know the answer to that. I could say to Barbra, ‘if you come to this party tonight, and just shake a few hands and take a few pictures, your album will come out at No. 1. These people can help you.’ ‘I don’t care.’ I don’t want to go.’ You say, ‘But Barbra, for sure. It’ll make your album come out…’ ‘ I don’t care. I don’t want to.’ But she’s a really true friend and she usually ends up being right. I will tell you that she’s not the person you asked about. She just doesn’t compromise. She believes compromise breeds mediocrity. I agree, though I haven’t always operated accordingly.
So the worst compromise you made was?
Deciding to do this interview. Use that. Also, in the eighties I did a bunch of projects in Japan just for the money. When you make decisions based on the money, it never really works
What’s in that sandwich?
Turkey, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and heroin. Want some?
No, but I’d bet there are no opioids. In fact, I think you are probably one of the rare people who’s succeeded in the music business without ever doing drugs.
That’s basically true.
Ladies and gentlemen, sometime in David Foster’s distant past there was a puff of a joint.
A few times. But that’s all. I was raised to not disappoint my parents. I had a great upbringing on Vancouver Island. I was in Chuck Berry’s band at 16. There was nothing but sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll and I never took part.
Although you made up a little for being such a good boy by appearing on reality TV. And you got a tattoo on your hand.
Ten years ago, my stepson started carrying a camera around saying, ‘We’re going to get a TV show going.’ I said ‘if you can get that TV show on a network, whatever it is you’re trying to do, I will get the same tattoo you have and I will be on your show.’ And sure as hell, they sold a reality show about our family to Fox and I wound up with this tattoo.’ That’s how both things happened.
The show was called “The Princes of Malibu” and your wife then was Linda Thompson, a singer and actress, whose other ex is Caitlyn Jenner. After that, you married Yolanda Hadid, who became a cast-member on the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” A show you appeared on with some regularity.
I wanted to be supportive. And I think about it like this. I’m currently working with Michael Bublé. Would he really say, ‘I was going to call him to do my new album but then I saw The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and thought, not that guy. Never again.’ I doubt it. But your question seems to be implying something. What do you think?
I would imagine there’s an upside to these shows or you wouldn’t be on them.
No. There is no upside. Besides maybe more Instagram followers. It’s not a good look.
Now you’re in the tabloids dating Katharine McPhee.
Well, that we won’t talk about.
Why? The two of you have been photographed together kissing outside restaurants in Los Angeles. It’s not a secret.
At some point, you can’t keep going in back doors. At some point, you’ve got to live your life. But I did learn one thing over the last five years. Never talk about your personal life.
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