Springsteen spoke of meeting Landau’s work as a rock critic for the first time years before they met. “One of my first memories of Jon Landau was his destruction of the Blues project in Crawdaddy,” laughed Springsteen. “I thought, ‘Who does this guy think he is?'”
The segment of Springsteen, produced by director Thom Zimny (“Letter to You”, “Western Stars”) highlighted Landau and included insights from label mogul Jimmy Iovine, who was Springsteen’s engineer Jann Wenner in the mid-1070s, who published his work in Rolling Stone for a decade, and Jackson Browne, whose album “The Pretender” was produced by Landau.
This makes him one of the few managers who have ever received the award. Previous recipients included Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Irving Azoff was also given the Ertegun-named honor in a segment featured by Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Gwen Stefani, and others before introducing himself to the hall.
“As a critic he was very measured and thoughtful, but he could jerk you down,” said Springsteen of Landau, while his favorite album with Landau in the role of co-producer was the landmark “Born to Run”. The singer said Landau introduced him to a magical concept during the making of this album: “Editing”.
“You mean take something out?” Springsteen laughed. “No no no. We are the people who put everything into it. I don’t take anything out. ”
According to Springsteen, Landau has “created a management style that is not only based on business, but also pursues the highest artistic goals in addition to personal growth”.
He continued, “Nobody did that before Jon Landau, and I don’t think anyone has done it since.”
Landau began moving from critic to producer with records from MC5 and Livingston Taylor.
“I was born to be a critic. I’ve gotten attention with some success, but I was totally hooked on rock music and R&B … I really wanted to move from writing to music to producing music. The first chance was the great MC5 and then with Livingston Taylor, ”said Landau when he accepted the honor. “Of course I met Bruce then [Springsteen] and everything has changed. I visited him in this little club, maybe 15 people there. He was just the greatest. I’ve seen him a second time, it was even better. Then I wrote an article that I am proud of to this day. ”
He was referring to writing a famous review of the Freehold native in 1974 with the iconic quote, “I’ve seen rock and roll future and the name is Bruce Springsteen.”
In 1975 he was co-producer of Springsteen’s breakthrough album “Born to Run”, which led the young artist to a less versatile and “slimmer sound”, wrote Springsteen in his 2016 book “Born to Run”. Landau was active in this role for every album (with the exception of “Nebraska”) through 1995. He then headed Shania Twain, Natalie Merchant, Train and Alejandro Escovedo, whom he thanked in his acceptance speech.
Landau was more than a manager and producer. He played a major role as the friend and protector of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, directing it towards therapy and away from the darkness of depression.
“As a writer, Jon was at the forefront; As a producer he was critical, ”said Springsteen. “He’s always been an incredible friend.”
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