It was with tremendous sadness that I opened the paper this morning to see that Steve Popovich had passed away at the far too young age of 68…but then again, any age would have been far too young for a force of nature such as Steve to exit this mortal coil!
My personal history with Steve goes back to his days as a local promotion man for Columbia Records and I watched with a sense of “he’s-one-of-ours” pride as he moved up the corporate ladder to finally become a Vice-President at Epic records where I’m proud to say he signed The Michael Stanley band to our first major label contract. He watched as our first two albums underachieved and then decided to take matters into his own hands.
“You guys are a killer live band and your records aren’t getting that point across,” he growled as only Steve could. In retrospect his solution for this dilemma might now seem completely obvious but at the time was quite unorthodox for a band that had not yet established a major following. “We’re gonna have you guys do a live album, ” he said. And that was that! I know that for many of you that our live “Stagepass” album is among your favorite MSB discs…well just know that without Steve Popovich putting himself on the line for us and deciding to go that way, that album would never have existed!
Even after he founded Cleveland International Records and unleashed Meatloaf’s classic “Bat Out Of Hell” on the world not everything he touched would turn to gold (or platinum)…but every act he touched knew that he believed in them and would do anything within his power to try and convince the rest of the world to do the same. And as an artist there’s not much more you can ask from someone.
I could tell you a million stories involving Steve but what I really want to try and express is that he was a wonderful friend, boss, and where music was concerned, the most passionate man (and certainly record executive) that I have ever met! My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and I will miss him terribly!
Believe it or not, there was actually a time, before corporate takeovers and the all-consuming concern with the bottom line, when the music business was run by people who actually knew, loved, and cared about music: the real record men! Steve Popovich was the last of the real record men…and the best! Rock on, brother!