Mariah Carey is going to be spilling some tea about her first husband, former Sony Music Chief Tommy Mottola. We’ve got five things to know about the music industry icon.
Mariah Carey‘s die hard Lambs are familiar with the name Tommy Mottola. But her newer fans are about to get a lesson on her long-ago first marriage to the music mogul when the 50-year-old’s songbird’s memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey is released on September 29. Tommy was 20 years her senior and literally her boss as head of Sony Music when they tied the knot in June 1993. He was one of the most powerful men in music, and helped launch Mariah’s career into the stratosphere with her 1990 debut album.
Tommy and Mariah’s coupling was controversial yet iconic. He helped make her a superstar, and it sure helped that she was literally married to the head of her record company. After the couple split in 1997, he would later admit that their relationship was “wrong and inappropriate,” while Mariah called her ex-husband “controlling.” We’ve got five things to know about Tommy Mottola.
1. Tommy was the longtime Chairman and CEO of Sony Music. He ran the record label from 1988 through Jan. 2003, and during his tenure signed and nurtured the careers of many future superstars thanks to his keen eye for talent. Not only was he instrumental in Mariah’s success, he also shepherded Celine Dion, Destiny’s Child, Gloria Estefan, Shakira, Ricky Martin and other acts to their mega-fame in the music industry. Today he is the Chairman of Mottola Media Group.
2. Tommy discovered Mariah, launched her career and then married her. The mogul first hear the then-18-year-old waitress from Long Island’s voice after she slipped him a demo at a party in New York. He signed her to Sony, and Mariah’s self-titled debut album dropped in 1990. It ended up spending 11 weeks atop the Billboard 200 album chart and was eventually certified 9 times platinum. It yielded Mariah’s mega-smash song “Vision of Love,’ which made her world famous.
3. Tommy and Mariah wed in a “fairytale” wedding ceremony. Their June 5, 1993 wedding at NYC’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church saw Mariah draw inspiration from Princess Diana’s 1981 royal wedding look when she married Prince Charles. Mimi wore a diamond tiara and a custom Vera Wang gown with big puffy sleeves and a full skirt. She even had a 10-foot veil and 27-foot train fit for a princess. Wedding guests included such music industry talents as Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen and Michael Bolton. At the time Mariah was just 24 and Tommy was 44.
4. Mariah and Tommy both later had regrets about their union. The couple ended up separating on May 30, 1997, with their divorce becoming finalized in 1998. In 1999 she wrote the song “Petals” from her album Rainbow about their marriage which contained the lyrics, “I gravitated towards a patriarch so young predictably. I was resigned to spend my life within a maze of misery.”
“You might want to picture a child bride,” Mariah told Cosmopolitan in 2019. “There was a conscious effort to keep me as this all-American, whatever that means, girl. It was very controlled. There was no freedom for me as a human being. It was almost like being a prisoner.” In Tommy’s 2013 autobiography Hitmaker: The Man and His Music, he admitted his relationship then marriage to the much-younger songbird (and employee!) was “absolutely wrong and inappropriate.”
5. Tommy has been married two other times. Tommy married first wife Lisa Clark in 1971 after a year of dating. They went on to have two children, Michael and Sarah. The pair divorced in 1990, the same year Mariah’s debut album dropped. After his split with Mariah, Tommy began dating Mexican actress/singer Thalia. They married on December 2, 2000 in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The couple has two children, Sabrina Sakaë Mottola, 12, and Matthew Alejandro Mottola, 9.