MUBUTV Insider Podcast Episode Transcript
[John Kalodner]


Ritch Esra: John, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.  


John Kalodner: Of course. 


Ritch Esra: You know, I wanna start at the beginning with you. I wanna know, when did your passion for music begin in your life? It’s sort of a two-parter. When did you know that it was gonna be your professional career path? 


John Kalodner: My passion for music really started the time I heard the first Beatles record which was 1963. I was 13 and after that I really got into all sorts of music but especially Beatles and AM, Top 40 pop music. 


Eric Knight: Let me ask you, John--this is Eric, by the way, and thank you so much it’s such an honor having you on. Thank you for doing this for us. You know, you started as a journalist and photographer in Philadelphia. What was the music scene in Philadelphia back then? 


John Kalodner: The music scene in Philadelphia back then was very, very active. Between Philadelphia and Cleveland was the birthplace of many superstar acts who later went on to play for years and years. Such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, The Eagles, Jackson Browne. They all played clubs in Philadelphia and I was a reporter for the Philadelphia Bulletin and Inquirer at the time, so I wrote reviews. I was a photographer, as well. 


Ritch Esra: Did you get--so you obviously saw a lot of those acts in their early years during that time. 


John Kalodner: Luckily I saw hundreds of those acts and not only did I get to sometimes write their bios for their record companies [but] I get to take their pictures. I got to take pictures of them together. There’s a famous picture that is around that I see from time-to-time of David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen and I think Billy Joel or somebody like that. I took pictures, all kinda combinations of pictures in the early 70s in Philadelphia when all these artists were playing clubs or very small venues.   


Ritch Esra: Yeah, I remember. You probably saw David Bowie in Philadelphia at The Tower, didn’t you. 


John Kalodner: That’s right. I saw David Bowie at The Tower. I don’t think I reviewed him. I did see Queen’s first show in America at The Tower. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


John Kalodner: Which I did review for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I did review that show. 

Ritch Esra: Yes, that review is up on your site. 


Eric Knight: What tour was that for? 


John Kalodner: The first American Tour. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


John Kalodner: I don’t even know what it was called. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


John Kalodner: I mean, Freddie Mercury had long hair and they were just a killer rock band at the time. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, yeah, amazing. 


Ritch Esra: Wow. That must’ve been--it’s like so much history, you know, even in terms of your position. So much history that you got to see prior to even getting into the professional music business. I mean, you are in the music business but you’re on the journalistic side from that point. That must’ve been fascinating. 


John Kalodner: Yeah, that’s very observant of you because I was on the music scene by the early 70’s It became my life and whenever I had a chance to go to New York to interview or review things, or had invitation from record companies… I remember standing at the bottom of the stage to see The Who at Madison Square Garden in 1972, and I’ve never taken a drug in my life but I imagine that’s what it’d be like to be on drugs ‘cause it totally blew my mind to see them from that close, and that intensity of a show, and their sound. 


Eric Knight: Wow.


Ritch Esra: Wow. My god that’s funny ‘cause I remember seeing The Who in ‘76 when I was in high school and to this day, it remains one of the great shows of my life. Like you I have seen thousands of shows over the years but that one really stands out for me, of The Who, and it was only four years later. 


John Kalodner: It’s funny ‘cause that is really true. I mean, I’ve seen many great bands. I saw Led Zeppelin many times and of course Aerosmith. That show particularly stands out as one of the most powerful, mind bending shows ever, of all time. 


Ritch Esra: Wow. 


John Kalodner: I’ve seen--I think in one of my few bored moments in recent years, I counted up the amount of concerts I went to and it was 10,200,25 shows


Ritch Esra: Oh my god! Wow! 


Eric Knight: Woah! That blows my mind record away. I thought I went to a lot of shows, I went to maybe a few thousand not 10,000. 


Ritch Esra: That’s amazing! 


John Kalodner: Yeah, well I was lucky enough to have a job where I could go see music every night for maybe 20 or 30 years. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: Exactly. Exactly, on all levels! From the club level to the stadium! 


John Kalodner: Right, from the club level to the stadium. That’s exactly right. 


Ritch Esra: So, you know, speaking of your work you then were hired by Atlantic Records. What’d you do for Atlantic in that job when you started? 


John Kalodner: Well, Danny Goldberg who was head of Swan Song music at the time--Led Zeppelin's label--suggested me to Earl McGrath-who worked for Atlantic Publicity--that they hire me because I was a writer and a photographer. Atlantic Records was wasting all this money on having freelance photographers and writers, so Earl McGrath hired me for, I think, early 1947 for $400 a week… I wrote all the bios, all the press releases, and I took all the pictures at Atlantic Records.


Ritch Esra: Wow. So what did you think now that you’re suddenly on the other side, you’re on the label side. What was that experience like for you starting? I mean, you had been reviewing shows as a critic and as a photographer. Now you’re on the inside. What was that experience like for you?  


John Kalodner: It was a bizarre experience because at Atlantic Records, you know, I was treated pretty poorly working there although I had a great time and I had great people to work with; but the interesting thing was, which is probably why I survived Atlantic Records, I took the train home from New York on weekends to review for the newspaper. Still being a reviewer and still being in the place where I was highly respected as a newspaper reviewer. So I had kinda a dual life from 1974 until I moved to California in 1976. 


Ritch Esra: When you moved to California in 1976, John, did you continue working for Atlantic out here? 


John Kalodner: Yes. I moved to California because I was working in New York and I wanted to sign Foreigner and the head of A&R Jim Delehant didn’t want me to sign Foreigner. So I went to Jerry Greenberg, who was President of Atlantic Records, to tell him that he had to sign Foreigner. I was insistent and Jerry Greenberg let me sign Foreigner, and Jim Delehant told me in his office that he was gonna fire me as soon as he could. So I guess Jerry Greenberg knew this so they said “we don’t have anybody in California to work for us”--and I always wanted to move to California--so one week later I was at the Sheraton Universal in California.


Ritch Esra: Wow. Had you been to California before? 


John Kalodner: I had been to California like two times or so. Mostly in writing bios and taking pictures for, funnily enough, Columbia Records. 


Ritch Esra: [Laughs] 

Interesting, okay. What was your experience like moving here? It’s one thing to just be out here in a work assignment but it’s quite another when you’re gonna be living here permanently. 


John Kalodner: Well… This is a very interesting interview for me to do because these are questions that people haven’t ever asked me. So I got on a plane, I moved here to the Sheraton Universal, and I was struggling with Foreigner. They were recording their record and there were things that weren’t going right. So I was kinda, ultimately focused. They were recording in New York. I had to change engineers and then the producers couldn’t mix the record so I had to hire the Atlantic Studio Engineer--who I knew was great, Jimmy Douglas--so I came out here but I immediately was absorbed with something that would’ve made… If Foreigner would’ve failed, Atlantic Records would’ve fired me.


Ritch Esra: Right. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


John Kalodner: Because of the bad blood with Jim Delehant the head of A&R. 


Ritch Esra: Right. 


John Kalodner: At the same time, Phil Carson who kind of discovered AC/DC from their recordings in Australia he had sent the records to Jim Delehant and I was insistent that Jerry Greenberg make the deal for the United States, you know all of the world, for AC/DC. That even pissed Jim Delehant off more. 


Eric Knight / Ritch Esra: [Laughs] 


Ritch Esra: He must’ve been furious that so many of your instincts were so spot-on and proved to be not only successful but classic and legendary. 


John Kalodner: Yeah, I mean at the time I knew what a hit song was from the time I was a teenager. I could hear something on the radio for the first time and knew it could be a hit. Anything rock or pop. I just applied that. The first time I heard the demo of “Feels Like the First Time” I knew it was a hit. It just was an extension of some kind of innate, lucky talent that I had. 

I think it pissed a lot of people off at Atlantic Records, that I had this ability. You know, Jerry Greenberg at the urging of Ahmet Ertegun let me pursue it. 


Ritch Esra: You turned the job at Atlantic into… It evolved into an A&R job. I’m curious, the first I guess - A&R experience from listening to you was the Foreigner record. That was like your first foray. Were you aware that you were being an A&R Executive at that time? When you signed the record, and had those issues, and the mixing problems, and all of that. I mean, did you know that’s the role you were doing at that time? Or was it just out of a passion? 


John Kalodner: I knew what it kinda was. It was out of a passion but in true Atlantic Records fashion--and I’m sure if you ever interview Jason Flom he would second this--at Atlantic Records they said you can sign bands but you still have to take pictures, and write bios.  


Ritch Esra: Mmm.


Eric Knight: Interesting. 


John Kalodner: So I didn’t really get it, that I was an A&R, obviously until I was in trouble with the first Foreigner record where I had to really make some tough decisions with Bud Prager, who was the manager, about recording and especially about mixing. Since I knew there were hits there. I just had to figure out how to get them recorded just like in my future career. That’s what became--that’s what separated me from most of the rest of A&R people. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, you had an incredible ear for that. Not only an incredible ear as an A&R Executive [but] you had a full vision as regards to the mixing, the producer selection, the photographers that were used [and] the videos that were made. In this particular case, was it a case with Foreigner that you couldn’t find the right people? Or you couldn’t get the record to sound the way that you envisioned it? Or what was it? I remember that Foreigner debut album. I mean, that’s a classic. I remember Feels Like the First Time and I remember all of those songs on that record--on that album. 


John Kalodner: Yes. I mean, I had it produced by 2 pretty young up and coming producer team. They kinda got the record of the songs but they had no idea how to mix the song with power; because, remember, Boston had just come out and rock radio was king. It had to be mixed with a power sound with the vocals upfront. In trying to work with them, and then I tried a couple other people, I just decided in January, like right after Christmas, to go with Jimmy Douglas who was the Atlantic Records T Studio engineer. Who, interesting enough, was a black guy which was, at that time, a black person didn’t mix a rock record. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: He was a rock guy so I didn’t even think about it. 


Ritch Esra: Right! Okay. 

John Kalodner: He mixed with Mick Jones because Mick Jones had the real sense of what Foreigner should sound like. He, with Mick Jones, mixed the record to sound exactly right.


Ritch Esra: Wow, and it was a spectacular debut. 


John Kalodner: It was spectacular because, you know, it was mixed right and then I--a legend who I always wanted to work with, George Marino who was the mastering engineer at Sterling Sound, I had him master the record. It just was, you know, just spectacular. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, I knew George. His wife was Rose. 


John Kalodner: Rose, Rose. She was a legend! 


Ritch Esra: She was a legend! She was Clive’s assistant for 27 years and that’s how I got to know George, was through her.  


John Kalodner: That’s right. 


Ritch Esra: Great, great. He did all of the Led Zeppelin and then when Jimmy went back and re-did the box sets he was the one that did all of those incredible records… That’s just one of so many that George did throughout his career but, yeah, he was a maser. 


John Kalodner: He did so many records for me. He did all of those big, far Aerosmith records. He mastered so many records for me I can’t even count how many it was, really. 


Eric Knight: I’d be curious, what was the reaction after that first Foreigner hit as far as Atlantic looking at you and saying, what’s happening with this guy here? He just delivered this band that nobody wanted to sign and now all of a sudden it’s like this huge smash. How did they--what was the thinking then at that point? Did things start changing? 


John Kalodner: They did not know what the hell to do with me. 


Eric Knight: Wow. That’s incredible. 


John Kalodner: That’s what it was. They had no idea what to do with me because I had urged Jerry Greenberg to take Phil Carson’s signing, and make it a US signing, and there was a lot of buzz about AC/DC so they didn’t really understand… They couldn’t get… ‘Cause they viewed me still as the photographer and the writer. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: Who knew a lot about music but they couldn’t, really, exactly understand what was happening. 

Ritch Esra: You know John, I’d love to get into your thinking and your criteria. Can you maybe share with us, what was it specifically that you looked for or saw in the artists that excited you the most that you signed as an A&R Executive, and has that criteria evolved over the years?


John Kalodner: Well, it was always about a couple of main things. First, the two main things were always, did the band have two-or-three hit songs that could be played on the radio? Number two, was there a great singer? Number three, was there a great frontman who was a star on stage? Those were the criteria I used in the beginning and all through my career.  


Ritch Esra: Okay, alright, that’s very clear. You know, this next question is more on the, I guess the instincts in terms of your experience. You don’t have to name-names if you don’t want to but I know there must’ve been-- 


John Kalodner: Unfortunately, I do name-names. It’s gotten me in plenty of trouble. 


Ritch Esra / Eric Knight: [Laughs] 


Ritch Esra: Okay. The question is--it’s an A&R question which is--I’m sure in your career there must’ve been situations where, you came across where you heard something and you loved what you heard musically; and for whatever reason, on a personal level or--not creatively [because] they had the songs--but for whatever reason you made the choice not to work with this artist. Did that ever happen throughout your career? 


John Kalodner: Yes. 


Ritch Esra: Okay. 


John Kalodner: There are a couple really notable things. I first heard Cyndi Lauper, and then for some reason I was in some kinda distracted place in my career, and I didn’t follow-up enough to sign her, but I knew she was a star.  Another one was, I went with Bob Greenberg--Jerry Gerenberg’s brother--up to see Huey Lewis. I thought he was great and Bob Greenberg didn’t think he was great. I don’t know why I relied on Bob Greenberg’s taste but I let him talk me out of singing Huey Lewis. I felt that was a gigantic mistake because at the time he didn’t have those Mutt Lange hit songs but he was a star and his band was great. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: The most interesting mistake that I made, which is very interesting and complex, is I really wanted to sign Ozzy Osbourne because I was a big fan of his from Black Sabbath, I knew he was nuts, and I knew about this guy Randy Rhoads; but David Geffen, who was the most important person in my career, he would not let me sign Ozzy Osbourne because at the time Don Arden managed him with his daughter Sharon. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: He said to me,  “I just can’t do business with Don Arden.” That was the end of the story and just one of those things. He made so many--he allowed me to do so many things in my career that that’s the one time he said no. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah. You see that’s a very interesting story, John because that’s kind of the--


John Kalodner: Nobody knows that story, by the way. That’s the first time I ever told that story. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


Ritch Esra: Wow. No, no it’s fascinating hearing it because that’s the kind of thing I remember… You know it’s funny, Tom Zutaut used to--and I’m sure he told you the story--he told me that was one of the reasons that he passed on working with Jane’s Addiction. 


John Kalodner: Yeah, that’s right. Yes. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah because he just felt he wasn’t the right person. I remember him telling me at the time. He said,  “Someone’s gonna have a lot of success with them but it’s not gonna be me.” He just, he couldn’t work with Perry. He knew that, though, and it was a shame because he loved them. He thought they were creative. It was--and it’s one of those things where David’s telling you, ‘even the success and everything that may come with this I just can’t do business with Don Arden.’ 


John Kalodner: That was it! 


Ritch Esra: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: That was simple. He had never, he never said that to me before and he never said it to me again. Ever. He felt strongly about that. 


Ritch Esra: Mmm. Let me ask you, as you started to have enormous success with your signings did it build confidence or did it just confirm what you always knew in your heart? 


John Kalodner: It confirmed what I knew in my heart, and as I was becoming more-and-more successful and having some mistakes unlike most people I just learn from my mistakes. I was really appalled at my mistakes and I vowed that I wouldn’t do the same thing twice, make the same mistake twice.  


Ritch Esra: Okay. 


Eric Knight: You know, John, you worked with one of the great record executives of all time during this time, Ahmet Ertegun, what did you learn from him specifically? 

John Kalodner: I learned from him that he was completely unapologetic for anything that he did. Generally he thought the artist had the best instincts and that’s pretty much what I learned from him. He was very close to the artists. In fact, I think he was much closer to the artist than I was ‘cause I was much more of a taskmaster than he was. He had a great instinct for superstars. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


Ritch Esra: Yes, he definitely did. Have you seen The House That Ahmet Built


John Kalodner: No. 


Ritch Esra: Oh you should. I think you would really--you especially having worked there you would really appreciate it. It’s a documentary on him and Atlantic Records and it covers the entire spectrum up until the time he died, so it’s very interesting. 


John Kalodner: Did they write Jerry Wexler out of the, out of that, part of the… 


Ritch Esra: Not at all! No, they did not. He’s actually in it. He’s in it. 


John Kalodner: Okay, ‘cause he’s the one--Jerry Wexler signed Led Zeppelin. 


Ritch Esra: Right. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: Oh, and they talk about that. I mean, Ahmet says that. 


John Kalodner: Okay, good. 


Ritch Esra: Ahmet says that he did that. 


John Kalodner: Okay, that’s good. 


Ritch Esra: He says it in the same sentence as he says he almost--he threw Crosby Stills and Nash out of the Atlantic Records office; and Ahmet was like, ‘what the hell are you doing, I just signed these people?!’ It’s a very, very funny story. 


John Kalodner: That is funny. Well if you ever see their behavior you would throw them out of your office, too! 

Ritch Esra: [Laughs] Okay, I wanna move onto the next phase. In 1980 you joined a startup label called Geffen Records; and I remember this very well because I was at Arista, in A&R, and I remember Clive telling a story about this great executive named John David Kalodner who he wanted to hire as his head of A&R on the West Coast. I remember him telling me, there were a few of us at the meeting, “We can’t get ‘em. He doesn’t wanna be the head of A&R on an east coast based label.” Do you remember that at that time? 


John Kalodner: Yes I do. 


Ritch Esra: Okay. 


John Kalodner: I do remember it because I was offered, you know, he was one of the great record men of all time. 


Ritch Esra: Right. 


John Kalodner: I still, and same with a few people at Columbia and Epic Records--and I did not wanna be head of A&R or anything on the east coast. 


Ritch Esra: Right, okay. So you ended up going with Geffen Records. Here’s the thing, tell us what those initial meetings were like with David? What did David tell you to convince you to join a brand new label that had no background or catalog? David hadn’t been in the record business for about 5 or 6 years at that point, he’s starting up something new, talk about what those meetings were initially like because they obviously were enough to convince you to take the gig. Could you share that? 


John Kalodner: Well, I mean, did you wanna know the undramatic truth? 


Ritch Esra: Okay, sure! 


John Kalodner: He had me to his fancy house in Beverly Hills and [was] talking to me about coming to join this startup label being distributed through Warner Brothers with Mo Ostin, who is a legend, and because I was a slave at Atlantic Records who wrote most of the history of Atlantic Records I wrote about the start of David Geffen as a Record Executive ‘cause Ahmet Ertegun funded Asylum Records. So I knew everything about David Geffen except why--I didn’t really know why he disappeared from the music business. 


Ritch Esra: Right. You didn’t know it at that time.


John Kalodner: From the music business. 


Ritch Esra: You didn’t know it at that time.

John Kalodner: I didn’t know it at that time. So when he wanted me to come and talk to him he said, 

“This is gonna be a brand new label. We have funding from Warner Brothers…”  He didn’t talk about it that much. He just had the charisma of a superstar that he is. So I just walked outta the house and I was thinking to myself, “I’m gonna leave this great company Atlantic Records. It’s been good to me and I’m gonna take a chance. I’m just 30 years old, I’m gonna go for it. If I fail it’ll be a big failure. If I succeed… I could have endless success.” So I just decided I was gonna take the chance. 


Ritch Esra: Wow. It’s a very interesting story. You basically just bet on yourself and on your own instincts with it! 


John Kalodner: And I bet on David Geffen. 


Ritch Esra: You bet on David Geffen which is always a great bet. You know it’s funny, working for Clive, as I did in A&R, it was an interesting thing because you bring up David. David was the only person… I mean, you know Clive used to pride himself on--what do ya call it--on being a record man. 

A great song man. He used to say that the only record executive that he truly admired and respected was David Geffen. I used to say,  “Well, what is it about David because David doesn’t possess your skills?” Of course at that time I was 20 and I didn’t know what David’s background and history was. I just knew that he was a famous executive. He said, this is Clive saying this, he said,  “No one has the instincts for talent the way that David does.” 


John Kalodner: Right! 


Ritch Esra: That was Clive’s assessment of David at the time. 


John Kalodner: He was right. In fact, no one has the instincts for anything about business, talent, or anything else that I’ve ever seen like David Geffen had. David Geffen is the smartest person that I’ve ever encountered in my life. 


Ritch Esra: Mmm. Yes. A lot of people feel that way about him. 


John Kalodner: Clive Davis was a great music man. I modeled myself after his ability to pick songs. He was my role model and I would say this from time-to-time in interviews, but he was so pissed off at me that I didn’t come work for him that he never really acknowledged it but he knew it. 


Ritch Esra: Right. 


Eric Knight: [Laughs] 

Ritch Esra: Oh, I’m sure he did. I’m sure he did. He would, I remember when working there, he would often talk about the signings that you would have, or that you would bring over, or the kinds of successes that you were involved with. He did admire you even though he may not have said it or you never knew it. I’m just telling you now in retrospect.  Let me go back there for a minute when you started. When you started at Geffen, I mean I remember economically it was sort of a very depressed period for the music business and a time of change of musical tastes. What do you remember about that time? 


John Kalodner: Well, I remember about that time I was just busy trying to get as much as I could for music on the radio to sell. So I signed Sammy Hagar and I made the Sammy Hagar records. Then I put together Asia which was the biggest selling record--


Eric Knight: Of all time. One of my favorite records of all time. 


John Kalodner: Of 1982. 


Eric Knight: Yup. 


John Kalodner: That was one of the worst album selling years. Like you said, it was a very depressed time in the music business right then. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, but you had one of the highest selling albums of the year with that album. 


John Kalodner: Well, it was. 


Eric Knight: It was the highest selling debut of that time. Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, it was! I remember that well because I remember at the year end them talking about that. Saying that Asia was. What was the inspiration for Asia? You’re credited with putting that together as opposed to being a project that came to you. You put that together, can you talk about that? 


John Kalodner: Yeah, I put that together with Brian Lane who was the manager. I admired Steve Howe from Yes, and Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and this new young, talented guy Geoff Downes and John Wetton who was a bass player from Uriah Heap and a few other bands and he was a really great singer. 


Eric Knight: Great singer. 


John Kalodner: I just decided to… Rent a rehearsal studio in London and see how it went. I got Mike Stone who produced Journey to produce them. That created that great first record. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, I mean it was. You had two massive hit records--singles--off of that first album, didn’t you. 


John Kalodner: That’s right. 


Eric Knight: And a Grammy nomination and wins, I believe. 


John Kalodner: Right. I mean, that was the first time that I was very insistent on focusing on the songs. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: Was that band. 


Eric Knight: That album is a masterpiece for me. Every song, cover-to-cover, there is not one bad song on that album. 


John Kalodner: That’s true. 


Eric Knight: Thank you for that.



John Kalodner: Then later, unfortunately due to alcoholism from the singer and the producer, you know the band went straight to Hell. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


Ritch Esra: Ugh. That’s always such a shame when you see that. There’s so many instances where one talks--one can give as examples of that kind of thing. It’s a shame.  I wanna ask you--


John Kalodner: You know one of the things about it, because it caused me such pain, is that when I signed Aerosmith, and I was having the same problem, and Tim Collins who was a great manager was having this same problem, we were the first people ever to put the entire families, and bands, and crew in rehab, and try to rid the band of drug behavior and alcoholism. It worked, but the inspiration for that was the decline of Asia. 


Ritch Esra: You know, you mentioned something in telling this story which I wanna follow-up on, John, which was that you said, “This was the first instance where I really started honing in and focusing in on the songs.”  Can you talk about how you were honing or how you started evolving your A&R skills at this point? I mean, that was the first time you were looking at that. Did you see that as a specific issue that was a problem in rock, or just bands in general, or in artists?

John Kalodner: It’s a specific issue in artists because all artists who are talented cannot hear their own hits. They just cannot hear whether their song is a hit or not. They tend to like things that aren’t hits. Which I don’t know how because I’m not a musician, I don’t know how they perceive it. Somebody has to tell ‘em, ‘this is the song that you’re gonna work on,’ or the three songs that are the singles, or… I was famous for making Aerosmith do four-or-five songs that were hits; and I said, “You can put whatever crap on the rest of the record you want.” but I was really focused on whether I could hear the melody, and whether it was a hit melody, and hit lyrics or not. 


Eric Knight: How did you develop such incredible--I mean like absolutely incredible instincts as A&R instincts--as you had no musical training, as you just kind of alluded to, coming into this line of work? I mean, it’s just amazing. I can only think of one other person, Rick Rubin, that had that gift that was just an innate thing. That they could say, ‘that’s a hit’ or ‘keep working on it.’ How did that develop for you? I mean, it’s just unreal. 


John Kalodner: You know, I always had it. Growing up, I knew it when I was growing up and starting at Atlantic just doing whatever work I had to do. Then I just always would feel it. When I would make a mistake I would learn what mistake--where I went wrong in judging whether it was a hit or not and put that into my memory 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: And put that into my memory of don’t do that again. 


Eric Knight: So it was almost like this mental checklist that you had. 


John Kalodner: Yeah. I mean, Rick Rubin learned a lot of the skills from me ‘cause I’m the one that found Rick Rubin. 


Ritch Esra: Wow. 


John Kalodner: You know, then Huvel in New York University when he was a student. ‘Cause he had the idea for Aerosmith and Run-DMC. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


Ritch Esra: You brought him into the Geffen fold, I think, didn’t you? 


John Kalodner: That’s correct. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, exactly.  You know, John, during this period after Asia you--


John Kalodner: And, excuse me. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: By the way it’s like… So I developed it over the years and I’ve always wanted, I’ve never told this story to anybody else, but I was a very interesting thing. I had two big successes with Aerosmith on Permanent Vacation and Pump. When it got to do the third record, which would be Get a Grip, they did like five, or six, or seven songs. When I went to hear the songs with them and Bruce Fairbairn, the producer, I thought it stunk and I threw the entire record out. Only due to the backing of David Geffen could I even do this. I went, Tim Collins and I, told the band they had to go back and write a whole new record and record a whole new record. So they did. It went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide, it produced all those hits. A few years later Rob Cavallo, at Warner Brothers Records, did the exact same thing with GreenDay which yielded that incredible record that they had because he had--he threw out an entire record that he had produced ‘cause the songs weren’t good enough. I felt that was the ultimate compliment to my A&R skill as an executive. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


Ritch Esra: Wow! It’s so rare to have that and to see that kind--because John underneath it all, regardless of how anyone feels emotionally if that’s the right thing or the wrong thing, to me, working in A&R, that’s ultimately about belief. That’s about your passionate belief in what you see in terms of a vision of an artist, and how much you believe the potential of them can be, and when it’s not up to snuff calling them out on it. I know, and I want to get in on that down the road with you, the consequences of that because you are one of the only A&R executives, and it’s one of the things I think that people love and respect about you immensely, is that you’re one of the only executives that I know of in that field who had the courage to stand up to artists and say, ‘you know what this just doesn’t cut it.’ I know that there was a lot of consequences to that as well. 


John Kalodner: Right. That’s totally true, thank you for pointing it out. One of the long term consequences is, believe me, none of the artists wanna look at me again in the future even though I’m the reason, part reason, for their success. I mean, Aerosmith didn’t invite me to their show in Las Vegas… David Coverdale decided--he announced on the internet a few months ago that he doesn’t want anything to do with me even though I haven’t had to do anything with him for years. You get a lot of the bad feelings from the artists because you had to tell them that their songs were not good, or they had to redo them, or redo their vocals. I mean, it comes with a downside to it which I was willing to take.

Ritch Esra: No, I know you were but when you have the track record that you did--and the track record being immense success not once, not twice, but 10, 11, 12 times over, and over, and over. With not only in Aerosmith but with an Asia, but with a Madness, with Wang Chung. You begin to realize this is not just a fluke. Yet I totally understand what you’re saying because I used to see that same thing happen with Clive. Although Clive was a little different. He wouldn’t do this--he wouldn’t do what you do to self contained AOR artists, interestingly enough. He would only do it to the pop acts that he used to say have no other way of having success then hit singles on pop radio. He would never tell Grateful Dead, or The Kinks, or anyone else. 


John Kalodner: Right, well that’s why none of his AOR artists ever made it big. 


Ritch Esra: Exactly! Yet he had a history with AOR in the 60s, I guess, and early 70s but that was a different time.


John Kalodner: Right! That was a different time, exactly. 


Ritch Esra: Exactly. You know, I wanna talk about that era with you at Geffen because during this time you also had huge success with bands like I mentioned. Like Wang Chung, Berlin, Madness. It’s interesting, I mention Wang Chung, because Arista had--you know, we released the first Wang Chung album in the US. 


John Kalodner: Yeah, that’s right. 


Ritch Esra: How did you come to sign them at Geffen? How did that come to be? 


John Kalodner: Well, their manager David Massey came to me and he said he didn’t think Arista was gonna pickup the option. I went to David Geffen and he told the lawyers to try to get Wang Chung out of the--I don’t know if they got out of the contract or were dropped. I’m not actually sure the circumstances because I was focused on, first of all, changing the stupid spelling of their name.


Ritch Esra: Right. 


John Kalodner: Which was ridiculously spelled. Then focusing on  - that they needed to have hits, and Jack Hues needed to be focused to write hits, and I was putting all this energy to get this amazing producer, Chris Hughes, to produce them.  


Ritch Esra: Yes, he certainly was. 

John Kalodner: So I was very focused on… Like I said, I’m not even sure how I was lucky enough to get them but I had a whole plan that took me quite a while to put together to get this producer with Chris Hughes. 


Ritch Esra: Tell me what it was about them…. Did they come to you with great songs? Or did they--was it just the first album? What was it that made you say, ‘this is right for me to sign.’ 


John Kalodner: They had a very interesting sound and I thought that Jack Hues was a great singer. When I saw them I just thought there was something. They were a three piece. There was just something about them I liked. I like the manager. It was just, you know I think they might’ve had some fragments of songs that I thought I could work with with this great producer which ended up being the case. 


Ritch Esra: Absolutely, and I think Chris went on to do the Tears for Fears record. Didn’t he? 


John Kalodner: Tears for Fears, that’s right. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, yeah. He did two albums with them that were just--


Eric Knight: Massive. 


Ritch Esra: Massive, yeah. Huge, brilliant albums. 


John Kalodner: He was an incredible musician. At the time I was working with all these British bands. I was, I did, I worked so hard because I really wanted to have a band with Chris Hughes on drums and Mutt Lange singing ‘cause he is an incredible R&B singer. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, he is. 


John Kalodner: I could never exactly get it together but all the time I was doing all these different things--Madness and all the stuff in England and Asia. I was trying to put the producer's band together which I never could achieve.


Ritch Esra: Aww. Well, your instincts were right on the money. That’s a great one. Mutt went on to do all those incredible vocals on the Def Leppard record’s. I mean, his voice. 


John Kalodner: Yeah! All of them. 


Ritch Esra: Absolutely. 


John Kalodner: And ACDC. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: He did all of those vocals on “Highway to Hell” and “Back in Black.” 


Ritch Esra: “Back in Black,” exactly, exactly. 


Eric Knight: Let me ask you, John, did any of your A&R signings in your career far exceed your expectations?


John Kalodner: That’s really a good question. 



Eric Knight: I mean, it’s kinda hard with your track record but I’m just wondering, you know, did you have one that you were like, ‘wow this is… didn’t think this was…’ 


John Kalodner: I really can’t think of one that stands out. I thought Sammy Hagar was great but when I put ‘em into Van Halen, you know, I thought he was amazing. He kinda exceeded my expectations when he was in that band. 


Eric Knight: Okay! 


John Kalodner: I can’t think of something that I signed outright. I always thought--even the Nelson Twins--I thought were gonna be amazing until they decided to wanna do their own record on the second album.  


Ritch Esra: Mmm. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: Interesting. 


John Kalodner: Which, you know, would happen a lot. Like they went to Ed Rosenblat, and he said yes, and they became nothing. 


Ritch Esra: John, I wanna talk about Aerosmith now. It’s probably one of your most successful signings at Geffen. You signed them at a time when they had been cold for several years and had a lot of internal problems. Can you talk about the initial meetings with them? Were you aware of the issues you were gonna face in working with them or no? 


John Kalodner: You know I really wasn’t. I wanted to sign them so badly and it’s one of those things were, just like everybody else, when you’re with a superstar or somebody who was successful you kinda look the other way; but I could see that it was a trainwreck, just generally, and Tim Collins was holding it together by sheer will. I made--one of the reasons I went on to make so many great in the 80s and 90s is I made that terrible record with Ted Templeman, who was my hero as a producer, Done With Mirrors with Aerosmith which is one of the worst records ever, one of the worst productions ever, some of the worst songs ever and some of the worst singing and playing ever. That was my doing. That’s all on me but I learned from it. In order to work with Aerosmith, Tim Collins decided that they were either gonna get cleaned up off of drugs and alcohol or not go on. David Gefen wanted to fire me after that Done With Mirrors album. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


Ritch Esra: Really?! Just--


John Kalodner: Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: Wow! One bad album and you’re out? 

John Kalodner: Well, because also at the same time I couldn’t get David Coverdale to sing what went on to be the big album of 1987, the Whitesnake album. 


Eric Knight: Right, the--


Ritch Esra: At that time. 


John Kalodner: So it was one of those… I had an 18 month period. I had always produced hits for Atlantic and Geffen, and for 18 months I was completely cold, I made this terrible Aerosmith record, and I couldn’t get David Coverdale to sing his record. So I think that he was thinking about it. 


Eric Knight: Huh and that leads me to the question, which you just obviously talked about in depth, that the first album you released with them was that Done With Mirrors record. Which obviously didn’t do too well. What was your plan moving forward with them at that point in time? Obviously you just alluded to David wanted to fire you! How were you planning to move forward with Aerosmith, how did David take another chance on that? Could you talk a little bit about that? 


John Kalodner: Well, I mean he told me… We had very few serious conversations about things and he told me he never wanted me to make a record like that again. I wanted them to sign Aerosmith, he made it happen, and he thought that that might’ve been a mistake. Obviously in more colorful language. He said, “You know you better get it right this next time.” So--


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: Obviously a gigantic part of the problem was Ted Templeman who was one of the great producers of the 80s. 


Ritch Esra: Oh my god. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: He was also on drugs. 


Eric Knight: Aw, no. 


Ritch Esra: Ooh. 


John Kalodner: As well as Aerosmith. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 

John Kalodner: So, I immediately went over to Warner Brothers Records--no one had ever done this before--and I immediately went in his office and said, “You’re fired from Aerosmith. I’m not gonna have you produce them again. I’m sorry but, I’m sure no one ever comes and tells you this, but I just think you made a terrible record and you’re fired.” 


Ritch Esra: Wow. 


John Kalodner: Then Tim Collins and I laid out a plan to have them go to various treatment centers in the fall of 1986 to resolve the substance abuse issues. Which is how I learned all about this and used it many times in later years on musicians and various famous people, including politicians, on how to do this. It came from the pain of what had happened to Asia. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, wow. 


John Kalodner: I didn’t know how to do it then. I didn’t know about rehab. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: I didn’t know about drug intervention which you need to get the people to go to rehab. 


Eric Knight: You learned from that mistake like you did in your previous ones and kind of checked that off your list, and say I’m never gonna let that happen again. 


John Kalodner: That’s right. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: I had no control over Aersomith so I kinda had to let them fail miserably and then I could step in with Tim Collins, the manager, very heavy handed about how it was gonna be, what the songs were gonna be like, how to write with co-writers, and they’re gonna be produced by Bruce Fairbairn. All of which they resisted. 


Eric Knight: Yeah! That’s what I was just gonna ask you. What was the mood like then? They must’ve just--


John Kalodner: The mood was F-You! 


Eric Knight: Yeah, exactly. 


John Kalodner: That was the mood. 


Eric Knight: Wow.


John Kalodner: Not so much, you know, well Steven Tyler as well… The ally three were always against me. 


Eric Knight: Hm. You know--


John Kalodner: You know what the ally three is, right? 


Eric Knight: No. 


John Kalodner: The least important three. 


Eric Knight/Ritch Esra: [Laughs] 


John Kalodner: Hamilton--Grammar, and 


Eric Knight: Yes! Okay, right. 


John Kalodner: Grammar and--


John Kalodner/Eric Knight: Whitford. 


Ritch Esra: Whitford, right. 


Eric Knight: Well I think it’s safe, or it’s fair to say that after that mandate from David Gefen to clean this up on the next go around that the followup albums Permanent Vacation and Pump restored them to worldwide prominence due in no small part to your incredible A&R skills that resulted in the massive hits, “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “Love in an Elevator,” “Angel,” and “Ragdoll,” on and on, and on. Can you take us through that process? I can only imagine that it must’ve been very difficult creatively. 


John Kalodner: Difficult, and painful, and to this day I still hear how I ruined Steven Tyler’s songs, I killed his children--which are his songs. He hates to sing “Ragdoll” ‘cause it was “Ragtime” and I made ‘em change the lyrics. I didn’t know what the hell ragtime was. It was a fight about every single song. 


Eric Knight: Wow. I just can’t understand that even after the massive success. I mean, you know, you figured. 


John Kalodner: For instance, on Get a Grip, Crying.  He went--I had him go write with Taylor Rhodes this great Nashville guy who was on a huge, great writing streak. Really talented, really a great person. He comes up with this great melody with Taylor Rhodes which is “Crying” and he only had--Taylor Rhodes gave ‘em this one word, crying, for the chorus and he just refused to write the lyrics for the song. So they’re recording in Vancouver Get a Grip and two or three of the songs, which are the most important commercial songs, he just was just fighting me in writing the lyrics. I just kept the pressure on. I mean, you know, I’m sure it’s taken years--took years off my life, really, because he is an incredibly talented, superstar person. It’s very difficult to engage with and fight with somebody like that.


Ritch Esra: Oh, I would imagine. People like that are formidable and you’ve dealt with a lot of them. 


John Kalodner: But you know he--right. You see, somebody like Steven Tyler is so talented he can do anything, and I knew it, and I wasn’t gonna give up… I was just not gonna give up. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: It’s just that simple. I just couldn't until--he wanted to fire me a few times. His manager Tim Collins did not let him, but that’s how he did it [and] it would get. 


Ritch Esra: Let me ask you, John. You know, in listening to you I’m realizing it’s about your passionate love for them and belief in his talent. Did you ever try that tactic with him? Did you ever--were you ever able to have the conversation about, you know, ‘I believe in you so much and you are so amazingly talented which is why I fight for getting the best out of you and what I know you truly can be’ or was he just not open to that?  


John Kalodner: I used to tell him that but it wasn’t at the time when we were trying--when we were fighting about the writing of the songs. It just didn’t coincide. Many times I would talk about that I had total faith in his talent, which I did, but it usually didn’t come up in the song--the painful songwriting time because most great artists, after their first record, it’s incredibly painful for them to write songs. Which I don’t know exactly why but it is. 


Ritch Esra: Interesting. I mean… I remember an interview you once gave where you talked about this subject around the subject of great art. You said,  “All great art comes from immense psychic pain or hunger.” 


John Kalodner: That’s right. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah. Can you expand upon that in your experience? ‘Cause you’ve certainly worked with brilliant artists where that seems to be the--


Eric Knight: Part for the course. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah! 


John Kalodner: Yeah, I mean it’s just all the artists that I’ve worked with--or the great actors or directors that I’ve been around--all of the great art comes from, you know, immense psychic pain. That’s what kind of creates the art. The huge ego, and insecurity, and talent all fighting within the person's brain. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, very much so… Clive used to always say one of the reasons that he could never be friends. He used to say,  “Throughout my career… I’ve only had one person who’s an artist in my entire life that I was ever friends with.” I said, “Who is that?” He said,  “Paul Simon.” I said,  “Why do you feel you could never be friends?” He said because he thinks that artists were too selfish, self centered, self absorbed, thought only of themselves. He felt--at the same time when he said he said, “And I also see that, from my experience, the ones that I’ve worked with who are great had to be that way.” That it was part of the fuel for their brilliant creativity. 


John Kalodner: That’s totally true. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah. What you’re saying--


John Kalodner: No artists are my friend. No artists were ever my friends. 


Ritch Esra: You got that. You got that innately. 


John Kalodner: I got that clearly. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, yeah. 


John Kalodner: David Geffen once told me, when I was becoming on my rise to my great abilities later on, he said,  “Artists will never be your friend, and don’t confuse it, and make sure that Geffen Records… Just the whole entity of Geffen comes before your friendship to the artist because you won’t get your friendship from the artist.” 


Ritch Esra: Absolutely. It’s very true. I wanna ask you, you ended up doing over a dozen albums with Aerosmith at two different labels. At Geffen and again at Columbia. Is there any one particular album that really stands out to you in that experience of work that you did with them? If so, what is it and why? 


John Kalodner: I think Get a Grip stands out because  Bruce Fairbairn and the band were--it’s such a creative pique, and it just was exactly the right time, their abilities were extremely high. I got Brendan O’Brien to mix that album which was also something that was amazing, the mix of that album. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, he’s brilliant. Brilliant. 


John Kalodner: Their album Pump was amazing as well, but I think their peak was really Get a Grip. 


Ritch Esra: Mmm. 


John Kalodner: Just Steven Tyler’s incredible creativity was definitely at it’s pique then. Once you go on the road and you sell out all the dates worldwide, and you get tired, and you absorb 20,000 cheering fans a night, it starts to warp the artist after that. 


Ritch Esra: Mmm. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, their sense of reality. 


John Kalodner: Right. 


Ritch Esra:  Yeah, it’s interesting. As you’re saying that I was thinking of certain periods of time. I was thinking of the Rolling Stones from like ‘68 to ’73 and that astonishing output of four albums, one after the other, that one was just more brilliant than the next. In relation to your comment about, how do they maintain that connection or staying in that zone during that time when they were just getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and the work was just astonishing. 


John Kalodner: Right, it’s just--it’s the same thing because of the superstardom of Mick Jagger and Kieth Richards. It’s just, you know, there’s a certain synergy with the two people similar to Steve Perry and Neal Schon for Journey. There are certain moments in time which last two, three, four, five years that are magic. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: And usually can’t ever be equalled by most people. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, it’s like you were saying. All of those elements coming together in a synergistic, symbiotic way where the stars have aligned creatively, personality wise, career wise, emotionally, and it just works. 


John Kalodner: Yeah, look at Lou Gramm and Mick Jones the run they went on for three or for records. It was just beyond amazing their incredible synergy with that music. 


Ritch Esra: Oh absolutely. You look at the first four albums, I mean. I one time heard a great story that Mick Jones told about Foreigner[‘s] Four where he said we wanted Lange to produce it. He said Mutt came to see him, he gave him the tape--I think--of the songs that he wanted, and he didn’t hear from him. Mick Jones tells this in the interview and he says he called up Mutt and said, “So,” like a week-and-a-half later and he said, “so what’d you think… Will you produce the record for us?” He said Mutt said to him,

“Well, maybe when you have some songs I’ll consider it.” He tells that story. Mick Jones said,  “Only because of my absolute respect for Mutt Lange would I be able to hear that from him and go back and write,” what was I think “Jukebox Hero”-- 


Eric Knight: Urgent.” 


Ritch Esra: “Urgent,” and the other one was the balland “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” 


John Kalodner: Right. 


Ritch Esra: He came up with those after Mutt said, essentially, what you have battled with bands all your life, John. That thing of, this is not good enough and I’m not gonna give my time… The result of that album, I mean that’s a classic album when you look at that album.


John Kalodner: Right, that’s right. Rick Ruben learned that to a certain extent from me. He would do it by being friends with the musicians as opposed to me being kind of the boss. 


Ritch Esra/Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: His method was fairly effective for a certain period of time. 


Ritch Esra: Yes, it certainly was. It’s a much different kind of style. 

I wanna ask you something on a personal level, John, of you as a person and you as a personality. You became a personality in your own right. I mean, having appeared in several of the Aerosmith videos and things like that. I’m wondering, was that by accident or by design? 

John Kalodner: Well, the first video that I was in was Sammy Hagar “I Can’t Drive 55.” 


Ritch Esra: Right. 


John Kalodner: It was Sammy Hagar and Gil Bettman--the director's--idea. After I was in that and I got some feedback then I think William Friedkin had me do something with Wang Chung for “Live and Die in LA” because I convinced them to do the soundtrack. 


Ritch Esra: Okay. 


Eric Knight: Which was brilliant. 


John Kalodner: Then it kind of took off from there where I kinda enjoyed it. I kinda enjoyed becoming a semi-celebrity and semi-known to the public. I didn’t wanna perform but I enjoyed having a certain image which I promoted, obviously, from wearing the white suit and just the things that I did. I really enjoyed forming an image for myself. 


Ritch Esra: Yes you did! Then I think, probably, [for] most people it must've been taken to a new level with the “Dude Looks Like a Lady” video. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: Yeah… The funny thing is that that was Steven Tyler’s punishment to me for making him write with Desmond Child to change the lyrics. 


Ritch Esra: For that song? 


John Kalodner: Yeah because he wrote the song. Was called “Groovin With the Ladies,” and I said 

“That’s the stupidest lyric I’ve ever heard for a great song.” 


Ritch Esra: [Laughs]




John Kalodner: He couldn’t come up with it so I sent Desmond Child up there, they wrote this great song, Bruce Fairbairn produced this great song, and he--how I know this is he told told Rick Rubin, “I’m gonna put Kalodner in a girls wedding dress so that he’ll look like an ass.” 


Ritch Esra: Aah. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


Ritch Esra: That was like his punishment. 


Eric Knight: Did they ever relent at some point and say, “Jesus you were right. You were right this time, you were right that time.” Was there ever a point? 


John Kalodner: Never. 


Eric Knight: Wow! My god. 


Ritch Esra: Really? Wow, okay. 


John Kalodner: They did do--I told you. Did you see that I got invited for one time to see them in Las Vegas? No. 


Eric Knight: That’s so unfortunate. 


John Kalodner: He even called me to find out where some of the multitrack stems were for some of the songs that he wanted to have in reserve for Las Vegas. That’s the thanks that I get. 


Ritch Esra: Wow, that’s so sad. 


John Kalodner: You know, there’s a little known fact because this guy on the internet quotes my net worth at $50million. The thing that he doesn’t know is I never got royalties from any artist ever - not one dime.


Ritch Esra: Oh! How interesting. 


John Kalodner: I just made money from--I got really well paid by David Gefen and Sony Music. Really well paid, but I’ve never made any royalties from anybody. So this guy, I guess, calculated how many records I sold at a 1% royalty [and] he came up with $50million.


Eric Knight: Wow.  


Ritch Esra: How interesting. Yeah, he must’ve assumed that that was your deal because some A&R people, I guess, got overrides in that era. You know that. I mean that was--


John Kalodner: Yeah, but I did not. 


Ritch Esra: Right. 


John Kalodner: You know, I was not ever doing it for the money. Not one second. 


Eric Knight: Wow, obviously. Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: Of course not. Obviously, obviously not. 


John Kalodner: I was doing it number one for the music. Number one--excuse me, number two for my own ego and my own image. 


Ritch Esra: Okay.


John Kalodner: I mean, wrong or right, that was number two; but number one was always about the music.  


Eric Knight: Yeah, it definitely shows. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah. You certainly proved… Yeah it shows. You certainly had the track record and the proof was in the pudding over, as I said--you know John, I just gotta tell you on a personal level, one of the things that I’ve always loved about you and so profoundly respected about you, as an A&R executive, is that--working in A&R--you had such a broad breath of talent in A&R in areas that most A&R--I mean, I don’t need to tell you--most A&R executives didn’t have. We’re gonna talk about that. The skillsets of working with an Asia are totally different than working with a Cher. Yet, you were very successful! 


John Kalodner: Right, or XTC


Ritch Esra/John Kalodner: C! 

Ritch Esra: Exactly, and yet you possessed all of that. That was an extremely… You can count on one hand in history how many people have that. It’s just what I’ve always respected about you in the field. 


John Kalodner: Well thank you. Most people don’t know I signed Siouxsie and the Banshees. It’s a… It’s kind of a strange fact. 


Ritch Esra: No and it just goes to my point. So, anyways. 


Eric Knight: John, we spoke a little bit earlier about David Coverdale and Whitesnake which was obviously another one of your enormous successes. How did you come to signing him and what was the process like, making their Geffen self-titled debut because obviously they had a bunch of other albums come out before that. 


John Kalodner: Well, I always thought David Coverdale was one of the greatest singers in the world and so I went to sign him. David Geffen was not convinced so I signed him for [the] US and Canada. Rupert Perry still had him for Europe and then I called my friend Jack Matsamora at Sony Japan, who signed Whitesnake for Japan.  I made this ‘84 record with them which, you know, was quite successful; but I knew I had to get rid of the producer Martin Burch.


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: Which Coverdale fought me about. 


Eric Knight: Mm. 


John Kalodner: I knew I had to gid of most of his band ‘cause they were not good. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: I eventually put ‘em with John Sykes to write the songs. They wrote the songs. I got Mike Stone to produce them and then they were Coverdale. Started to hate out on John Sykes and Mike Stone, also he couldn’t sing the record. I took him to many doctors, many ear, nose and throat doctors. I had to--he had ear, nose and throat surgery with Joe Sugerman…We went to various other things. I finally--we used every superstar producer in the world and finally Keith Olsen got ‘em to sing the ‘87 record where he sang it great… That was another thing where--those were the two problems that I had with David Geffen ever; the bad Aerosmith record I made and taking over two years to finish the follow-up to the ‘84 Slide It In Whitesnake record. He said, “Why can’t you get this done?” I said, 

“Because I’m…I’m trying my best,” and David Gefen said to me, “Don’t try, do.” 


Ritch Esra: Mmm, ‘kay. 

John Kalodner: I just did whatever I could to get him to finish the record. He wouldn’t talk to John Sykes or Mike Stone, so I got Keith Olsen to mix it. Then when it was all finished I decided “Here I Go Again” was not correct so I set up a session with all the great LA studio musicians and David Coverdale singing, and that’s the single of “Here I Go Again.”  


Eric Knight: Wow. 


Ritch Esra: So you re-recorded it? 


John Kalodner: I completely re-recorded it with Keith Olsen producing in January of 1987, three months before the album came out.  


Eric Knight: Wow and was it your idea? Did you mastermind putting the band together? You know, Rudy Sarzo--


John Kalodner: It was my idea, I put the band together, I masterminded it. Both the band that played the record and both… and the band that then was in all the videos, and started to tour live. It was kind of all my dream musicians I wanted in the band. 


Eric Knight: Yeah! 


John Kalodner: You know, Adrian 


John Kalodner/Eric Knight: Vandenberg and Tommy Aldridge. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, my god. 


John Kalodner: The great Steve Vai. 


Eric Knight: Yup. 


Ritch Esra: Oh yeah. 


Eric Knight: Which came later. Yeah, exactly. 


John Kalodner: And Rudy Sarzo. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, I mean it’s just unbelievable… Was there fighting going in that process too, with you and Coverdale in terms of even that happening? Or did he start to realize, ‘well he’s onto something we have to follow through with that,’ or was there a constant battle about that? 


John Kalodner: A constant battle. 


Eric Knight: Wow! 


Ritch Esra: Interesting! 


Eric Knight: That’s just, it just… 


John Kalodner: All the time. 


Eric Knight: I’m just in shock. 


Ritch Esra: But his career was at it’s--


Ritch Esra/Eric Knight: Zenith! 


Ritch Esra: I mean he had never been as big, ever, as he was in that period. That was a worldwide, AOR smash! He was touring. 


John Kalodner: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, I got more praise from Rupert Perry, the head of EMI, than I got from David Coverdale. 


Ritch Esra: Well because you were probably making their job a lot easier. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


John Kalodner: Well, I was making them a fortune because the record was gigantic; but I mean I never got any accolades or thanks from David Coverdale. Towards the end of finally recording the record I paid for his room at Le Mandrian, which at the time was a hotel but-slash-apartment building. That’s how little money he had. 


Ritch Esra/Eric Knight: Wow. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, that’s just stunning to me you saying--


John Kalodner: There are a lot of thanks that I get for it when he announces in June or whenever it was. He’s not going to have anything to do with me again. Which I have no idea any reason why that would be. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, why would he bring something like that up now in 2019? I mean that’s just so, so strange to me. 


John Kalodner: Yeah. 

Ritch Esra: It was bizarre. It was very, very bizarre.  You know John, I guess I wanna ask you, when you speak about all this there’s gotta be an emotional component to this that, you know, it takes its toll on you emotionally. I know you spoke about the fact that you were very, very clear and David discussed this with you, that you were not friends with the artist. At the same time were you ever concerned, taking this tactic and having this experience so many times, that you were going to be either alieting or damaging your working relationship with the artist that you had to work with? 


John Kalodner: No. My job was to make them be able to or force them to have hit songs so that they would--their money came from touring at the time. I never gave it a second thought. Years later, from the end of my active career a few years ago to now, I pretty much have PTSD, you know like many Soldiers do, because I have bad dreams about the artist like almost every week. I have to get therapy for it. So that’s how it affects you if you’re gonna take that kinda tact in order to get that done because you’re not getting any thanks or love from the artist that you love. 


Ritch Esra/Eric Knight: Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: You--


John Kalodner: That’s how it is. That’s how it is. 


Ritch Esra: You contributed so much emotionally, and creatively, and financially--


Eric Knight: Financially, yeah. It just--


Ritch Esra: To their world! I mean it’s, you know it’s… I don’t know. 


John Kalodner: The only artist that ever got me a gift was Aerosmith because of Tim Collins. 


Ritch Esra: Interesting. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


John Kalodner: I mean, Cher never did anything for me. Ever. She was probably the worst person that I ever worked with. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


Ritch Esra: Wow!


Eric Knight: Let me ask you John, what artists that you worked with, that were completely open regarding your creative input regarding material, were there any that welcomed you with open arms? 


John Kalodner: Jon Bon Jovi. 

Ritch Esra: Really? 


Eric Knight: Yeah, tell us about that. 


Ritch Esra: Tells us about that because he was on a competitive label, I think. 


John Kalodner: Yeah! I really wanted to work with him and David Geffen said,  “Okay. You can go ahead and work with him as long as you’re just doing your thing at Geffen.” He is the one that appreciated my input on his songs and recording the most. That’s the only person I can think of is him. Especially him. He and Richie Sambora appreciated everything I did for them. 


Eric Knight: Wow. What period was that that you were working with them, during? 


John Kalodner: So from ‘87 through his first solo record. 


Eric Knight: Okay. 


John Kalodner: ‘94, ‘95. 


Eric Knight: So like that New Jersey area--era? 


John Kalodner: Yeah that’s right. New Jersey until his first solo record. 


Ritch Esra: You know, you mention Cher and I wanted to talk about that. One of the things that I so admired about you is that you had, as an A&R executive, such a broad breath of scope of talents. With not only being able to work with the Whitesnakes, and the Asias, and the Aerosmiths, and revive their careers but that you were also able to work with an artist like a Cher or a singer who is not self contained, who does not write their own material. I’m curious, what were you looking for when you worked with her? What were you looking for in the songs that you were selecting for her… the other part was, how was she to work with at the time but you’ve stated she was difficult. 


John Kalodner: Well, like you had mentioned it was really the peak of my career and so I had first choice to all these great songs. 


Ritch Esra: Right. 

John Kalodner: I didn’t really--most of the artists I had were self contained bands, so I thought to myself ‘what can I do with these songs?’ I convinced her to record again even though she didn’t want to at the time, ‘cause she was making three movies back-to-back, and no one wanted to produce her. That’s why Michael Bolton produced her, and Jon Bon Jovi produced her, and Desmond; but I asked a lot of big producers--Barry Gibb and Giorgio Moroder--[and] nobody wanted to produce her. In any case, I was determined because I had these hit songs. I found really good producers. All I would do is have Peter Asher, who was also a producer, go get the key that we would record the track in. She didn’t even hear the songs. I picked the songs, I cut the tracks with various producers, she would come in and sing for three hours--that’s all she would give me--and she would leave, then I would mix the songs, and that would be the record. 


Ritch Esra: Wow. 


John Kalodner: But she was so talented in being able to sing a song as long as I gave her a bit [of] direction as to what the song was, ‘cause she could… I pretty much played the finished--tracks were finished when she sang to them. 


Ritch Esra/Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: Which is very unusual for an artist to do. In any case, she always was able to sing the songs really well; but that was the extent of her participation. I got the least amount of thanks and the least amount of respect from her. In fact, she wouldn’t even--I was in Australia once and her manager wouldn’t even give me a ticket to her show in Sydney, Australia. 


Ritch Esra: You know what’s interesting about that John is that I wonder… I mean, she knew David for many years prior to that… Did you let David know that she was this difficult? 


John Kalodner: Well, David’s the one who told me don’t make a record with her. 


Ritch Esra: Oh he did! Okay. Interesting. 


John Kalodner: I said,  “I want to,” because obviously my ego. He said,  “Well this is what you get. You wanted it, this is what you got.” 


Ritch Esra: So he warned you that this would be--okay… But you completely--


John Kalodner: Yeah, he warned me. 


Ritch Esra: You completely revived her recording career! I mean, when it came out and you had all of those hits. Then I think even a couple years later you had the “After All” that I think Peter produced from the movie. 


John Kalodner: Right. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah! 


John Kalodner: She wouldn’t even sing a duet with Peter Cetera because she thought he was a hack so he had to--they sang it separately and Peter Asher put it together. 


Ritch Esra: Wow. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


John Kalodner: She was a real snob, and lazy, and ungrateful, and she was like the least joyful artist ever to work with. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


Ritch Esra: Wow, that’s so sad. 


John Kalodner: The most disappointing person. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah it’s always sad when you, especially when you had such success with someone, that they still feel that way or that they’re so negative and so disappointing as a person but I guess, you know… The most interesting part of what you’ve said to me, beyond the sadness, is how David warned you don’t make a record with her. It’s almost like he intuitively knew what you were gonna get into. 


John Kalodner: Yup. He totally warned me for real. Not even subtly. 


Ritch Esra: He must’ve loved the enormous success that you brought! The enormous career revival of her on his label.  


John Kalodner: Yeah! I’m sure he did but the very unpleasant subject because it was so, I was so successful with her and she was so uncooperative in every way.  


Ritch Esra: Wow. 


Eric Knight: Wow.  Well that leads me to the next question. What have your biggest professional mistakes taught you, John? 


John Kalodner: Well I tried to learn from all of my professional mistakes in order to make good music. Most of the professional mistakes I can’t change now. Especially not being a royalty participant, since I don’t have continuing income from all the records I made. 


Ritch Esra: You know I remember an interview that you once gave, John. Where you spoke about a time when you went to therapy to examine certain self destructive behaviors. Was that process helpful to you at that time in your work with artists? 


John Kalodner: Yes, it’s very helpful to me. I mean I continued--I think Geffen had suggested it early on. By doing it it really helped me to retain my focus when I got all this negativity about changing their music. So it was a very, as usual, wise suggestion from him; but I think it was critical to go to therapy to examine yourself, and your own problems, or things which would get in your way. Yes. 


Ritch Esra: Do you continue to find it helpful today? 


John Kalodner: Yes, I do. 


Ritch Esra:  I ask ‘cause you mentioned earlier that you have certain, like, the PTSD thing on artists. We were talking about that earlier and that therapy has been helpful in that regard, so. Okay.


Eric Knight: You know, John, you’ve worked with some legendary music executives. You know the who’s-who. Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen, Don Ienner. Can you talk a little bit about what you learned from each of them? 


John Kalodner: Well, I learned mostly everything from David Gefen. Some things from Jerry Greenberg and Ahmet Ertegun… By the time I went to Columbia I was pretty much my own kinda executive and did everything. There wasn’t a big learning place at Columbia.


Ritch Esra: But at Geffen there was an enormous [one]. I mean that was--


John Kalodner: Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: It was a huge stretch of your career as well, timewise. 


John Kalodner: Yeah and especially--well, it was 15 years, and Sony was 10 years, and Atlantic Records was only 6 years. 


Ritch Esra: What was it about David that, I guess, impressed you the most? You said that he was one of the smartest people--the smartest person you have ever met. From a creative level what was it about him that impressed you the most in having him as a boss? 


John Kalodner: That he stayed out of the creative aspect of music because he said he didn’t understand anything about the music that was being made in the 80’s. He said, “So I’ll stay out of it and I’ll let you do your thing. Just don’t make mistakes more than once.” 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, it’s interesting. I remember it must’ve been ‘89 or ‘90 [when] he went through that period [and] he sold the company. He said one of the great regrets that he had, professionally during the Geffen years, was suing Neil Young. Do you remember that period? 


John Kalodner: Yes. 


Ritch Esra: Do you remember what his motivations were? Or his instincts behind doing that at the time? 


John Kalodner: No. 


Ritch Esra: ‘Cause it was an unusual thing to do that… For the reasons that he was doing it I mean it was highly unusual! 


John Kalodner: Yeah, no I don’t know anything about that because, as you know from interviewing me, I was so busy every minute there’s no reason to be involved, think about it. No one asked my opinion or anything so I have no idea about any of those conflicts with him and his former artists. 


Ritch Esra: You know, I wanna ask you sort of a creative, personal question. When you listen to new music today, John, do you listen as a fan or do you listen with your A&R ear? How do you approach when you hear things that you’ve never heard before like if a song comes on that catches your ear?


John Kalodner: I listen as an A&R person, my A&R ear. The problem is that it only applies to country music, modern country music, and once-in-a-while a Taylor Swift song or a Lady Gaga song. Most of the music that I hear today is--sounds like kind of half assed vocals and it’s garbage. So, I don’t listen to any moden music on pop radio or even rock radio that’s listenable. If I wanna listen to something I’ll listen to one of the XM Country stations that plays modern country records. Which most of them sound like great 80s rock records. 


Ritch Esra: Yes! Most of them--it’s funny, when you go to the concerts, most of them are rock concerts… They have the huge martial stacks-- 


John Kalodner: That’s correct! 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, yeah! Exactly. 


John Kalodner: Florida Georgia Line. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah! 


John Kalodner: Or, you know, Jason Aldeen or any of those superstars. 


Ritch Esra: Eric Church, yeah all of ‘em. 


John Kalodner: Eric Church, yeah. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, definitely. 


John Kalodner: Those are the rock stars now, and then of course all the old stars! It’s funny ‘cause when I went to The Eagles to see Don Henley and Vince Gill was there--I mean, nobody could replace Glenn Frey--one of the most important people ever in the music business--but since, Gill is an amazing country artist who fit right into The Eagles. 


Ritch Esra: Yes, and he has that beautiful voice. 


John Kalodner: Beautiful voice and Don Henely knew that! 


Ritch Esra: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: Don Henely and probably Irving Azoff. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah and, you know it’s funny… They brought in Glenn’s son but I guess he doesn’t do the majority of Glenn’s vocals, does he?


John Kalodner: That’s right, no. He does some but Vince Gill is singing mostly. It’s funny, earlier on they took my guitar player from Shawn Colvin to be in The Eagles.  


Ritch Esra: Aah. 


Eric Knight: Oh wow. 


John Kalodner: Stewart--I forget his last name… I found him for Shawn Colvin. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah that--you know it’s funny. 


John Kalodner: When I made… That’s one of the things I got a Grammy for, was that Shawn Colvin album. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, that’s a great album. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah that--


John Kalodner: She hates me, too! 


Eric Knight: [Laughs] 


Ritch Esra: Really?! Wow! 

Eric Knight: Wow!


John Kalodner: The original title of “Sunny Came Home” is “Forty Red Men.” 


Ritch Esra: Wow. 


John Kalodner: I had a fight with her. John Levanthal just almost passed out from that fight I had with her to change the lyric. 


Ritch Esra: How interesting. I mean, he almost passed out. He produced that record, didn’t he? 


John Kalodner: He was and he is a great producer. 


Ritch Esra: Oh he is! 


John Kalodner: He was so great I wanted him to produce The Eagles, at the time. 


Eric Knight: Wow. 


John Kalodner: I don’t think they were up for having a producer, then. 


Ritch Esra: Interesting, very interesting. 


Eric Knight: John, are there any books for our audience--any books, films, etc.--that you found particularly inspirational that you would recommend for an artist to read or watch? 


John Kalodner: That’s really a good question. I think the most inspirational thing for any artist is, somebody wants to see a complete vision of an entity, a work of art, is Breaking Bad. 


Eric Knight: Hm. 


John Kalodner: The entire seasons. 


Ritch Esra: Hm, yeah. All five, yeah. 


John Kalodner: All of Breaking Bad ‘cause Vince Gilligan had a vision from beginning to end of the show. He would not let Sony pay him millions of dollars to do another season; and so that is what real art that kind of vision ‘cause he knew exactly what he was doing. 


Eric Knight: Do you think that that might’ve been your thing that you had such a clear vision beginning to end for these artists that you worked with and that’s what it was? Maybe…that you  know...


John Kalodner: It’s very similar, yes. 

Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: I mean, I think he took it to even a higher level because he had… Enough money to say enough. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: That is probably the thing that I lacked; but it’s the same concept. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: A singular artistic vision. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah, which he did beautifully over six seasons. I think it’s six seasons, I think of that show. Wasn’t it? Six, five? 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


John Kalodner: Yeah, five or six. 


Ritch Esra: It’s an astonishing work in that each season… It’s funny, I have watched--I was very late to it in this era of the last 18 years in which so much brilliant TV has come. I caught some shows, I didn’t catch that until later, and then I caught up with at least the first four seasons on DVD. One of the things about it, as you were speaking, I was realizing that the evolution of the way that character evolved each season and [it] was so uncompromising. It was so brilliantly written and executed and it’s amazing, it’s absolutely amazing. I knew Gilligan's work from--you know he did a lot of the X Files stuff. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: That’s right. Exactly. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah. It’s just funny you would mention that because that’s considered to be one of the great masterpieces of the last 20 years. In the era of great TV. 


Eric Knight: I believe they’re making a film, now. 


Ritch Esra: They are making a film! 


John Kalodner: Yeah, I mean it’s considered the Golden Age of TV. 


Eric Knight: Television, yup. 


John Kalodner: Most of the times when I see people polled, that always comes in at number one as the greatest program of the Golden Age of TV, the greatest series. 


Ritch Esra: Mmhmm. 


John Kalodner: I mean it’s not related to music but it’s a similar thing of great art. 


Eric Knight: Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah. Very, very much so.  John, what advice would you have for an artist today who wants to have a career in the music business? 


John Kalodner: I would say to have as much musicality as you can in terms of playing an instrument--piano or guitar--work on your vocals as much as you can, and obviously try to study songwriting because that’s the basis of everything, and then attempt to get somebody who can produce music that… Obviously, it has to fit into today’s world but it should still be great. I don’t know how to join those two anymore, but I used to know perfectly so that’s what matters. 


Ritch Esra: [Laughs]  Okay.  


Eric Knight: How do you feel like you don’t do that anymore? What is it? 


John Kalodner: Oh, because I don’t understand the music that is played on most radio stations. 


Eric Knight: Gotch you. 


John Kalodner: I don’t understand it at all because it’s not--it’s mostly sound. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: There’s percussion instruments and vocal sounds. There’s not a generally… There’s not generally a vocal like Lady Gaga from A Star is Born, or a Taylor Swift song, or Jason Aldeen, or Keith Urban. They’re generally--I don’t hear music like that now. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah… I remember a comment you made about that smash that Justin Bieber had. I remember thinking the same exact thing in the interview. You said, “I’m listening to this song and I’m thinking, ‘my god is this a demo?’” I thought the same thing because it sounds like it was done on some small, little keyboard as a four-track demo, but it has a little better sound, but it’s so sparse. 


John Kalodner: Right.  


Ritch Esra: So sparse. 


John Kalodner: Exactly, so it’s hard for me to judge a lot of the modern artists ‘cause that’s how they record and they record their vocals through all kinds of processors. I can’t really tell if they’re good singers or not good singers. 


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: There’s so much processing on the vocal sound and on the other sounds, and also the sounds are so compressed. I don’t really understand it. 


Ritch Esra: John, what’re your thoughts on Greta Van Fleet. Have you heard the album? 


John Kalodner: No, I have not heard it. 


Ritch Esra: Okay. Well it’s very interesting because rock bands today don’t seem to have any connection with youth culture. This is the one rock band… Jason Flom signed it.


John Kalodner: Oh yeah, well then I would have to listen to it because he would know. 


Ritch Esra: Yeah! What it is--it’s funny because older people listen to this and think it’s a complete and utter ripoff of Led Zeppelin! It’s like Led Zeppelin light. I mean the phrasing, the guitar… Even his vocal approach is very Plant-esque. It is. Yet, what’s fascinating is that the audience that they’ve attracted is not people our age who remembers Zeppelin and love them, but it’s the--


Eric Knight: Well it’s a cross of both. They do have an older audience but yeah there [is this] newer generation that’s into them. 


Ritch Esra: Do they? Newer generation that’s into them.  You wonder, what is it about that particular band that makes them stand out among all the other rock bands that have come-and-gone in this era that can’t get any attention or can’t get an audience. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, I think it’s just the idea of what once was. I mean they are a great band. They look great, good looking guys… They got it seems like the whole kinda package together but, yeah, I mean it is very, extremely, heavily, Led Zeppelin influenced. 


Ritch Esra: Exactly! 


Eric Knight: I mean, if you closed your eyes you would think it’s ‘Oh this is the new single for Led Zeppelin?’ 


Ritch Esra: Right. 


Eric Knight: It’s like, ‘they’ve been gone for thirty years?’ That, you know, just from the opening track! 


Ritch Esra: Right, right. 


John Kalodner: Right, I understand. 


Eric Knight: Let me ask  you, John, for someone who wants to pursue a career as an A&R executive what advice do you have for them? 


John Kalodner: I would say to invent a video game and forget A&R. 


Ritch Esra/Eric Knight: [Laughs] 


Eric Knight: Okay! 


Ritch Esra: Okay. Alright. 


John Kalodner: I’m being serious. 


Ritch Esra: Oh, okay! 


John Kalodner: I’m not being a joker or an asshole. 


Ritch Esra: No, no. 


Ritch Esra/Eric Knight: Okay. 


Ritch Esra: So you don’t feel that that’s a viable career option anymore for someone. 


John Kalodner: I do not, no. Unless they--unless they’re a lover of country music, want to move to Nashville, and work with the great musicians there who actually play their instruments and sing. So, if you wanna be an A&R and try to get in the music business you have to be in Nashville. You have to physically be there. You could try that; but in terms of A&R in London, New York, and Los Angeles I would say pursue a different career. 


Ritch Esra: Okay.  John, how does one get in touch with you? Is it through your website?  


John Kalodner: It’s through my website and usually the guy that runs my website, you know, will weed out interesting questions ‘cause I get a lot of, you know, different things. That’s why I’m not on social media because a lot of people… They’ll say ‘you ruined Aerosmith’ or--


Ritch Esra: All of the hate that comes at you. Right. 


John Kalodner: Just like any other social media you get mostly negative things. 


Ritch Esra: How interesting, just on social media they know who you are and they come after you in that way. 


John Kalodner: Yeah they do. 


Eric Knight: Well as far as I’m concerned--


John Kalodner: All the time. 


Eric Knight: As far as I’m concerned you’re a legend. 


Ritch Esra: [Laughs] 


Eric Knight: Literally a legend. Such a legend that you’re--that I remember the credits of your album saying John Kalodner, John Kalodner. That’s how much of a legend you are. 


Ritch Esra: By the way John, where did that whole element of John Kalodner; John Kalodner come from? Where did that start from? 


John Kalodner: OK, so we were working on “Double Vision” and--


Ritch Esra: Foreigner, okay. 


John Kalodner: Foreigner, “Double Vision” in 1978. I wasn’t the manager, I wasn’t the producer, so Mick Jones was trying to figure out what my credits should be ‘cause he wanted to give me credit ‘cause I picked the songs with him, and I picked the producer, I picked the mixer, just everything I would do for my artists. So he said, “Well, you know what you're you so that’s what it’s gonna be.” Since it’s double vision--


Eric Knight: Right. 


John Kalodner: He came up with the idea that there would be two. John Kalodner; John Kalodner. 


Eric Knight: Right.


Ritch Esra: Wow. 


John Kalodner: He invented that. 


Ritch Esra: And it stuck. I mean, I remember seeing that--


John Kalodner: It stuck.


Ritch Esra: Yeah, it stuck. I remember you would see that on all the things John Kalodner; John Kalodner.  


Eric Knight: On all the records, yeah. 


Ritch Esra: That became almost you--what’s the word. 


Eric Knight: The trademark! 


Ritch Esra: The trademark for you. Yeah, exactly. 


John Kalodner: It’s really funny in the waning years of physical product I see that Atlantic Records and Sony took a lot of John Kalodner; John Kalodner’s off of the record. 


Eric Knight: Interesting. 


Ritch Esra: Really?! 


John Kalodner: Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: You mean off of the credits or off of the--


John Kalodner: Off of the credit, yeah. 


Ritch Esra/Eric Knight: Wow. 


Ritch Esra: How interesting. I didn’t even know. 


John Kalodner: Yeah. 


Ritch Esra: I mean ‘cause all the ones that I have, the original CD’s, they--

John Kalodner: The originals, yeah all the originals--


Ritch Esra: Yeah, they have them! 


John Kalodner: The originals, absolutely. 


Ritch Esra: Absolutely. 


John Kalodner: You know, the other talentless executives didn’t like that so that’s what happens. 


Ritch Esra: Oh wow. Wow.  John I really, I can not thank you enough for taking the time to do this. It means the world to me. 


Eric Knight: Yeah it does. 


Ritch Esra: To us. That you’d do this and you took the time. I’m very, very grateful to you. Thank you. 


Eric Knight: Yeah, thank you. 


John Kalodner: Thank you. I appreciate it. It’s interesting to talk to people that really like music, and understand it, and know a little about my career, and so it’s my pleasure to have talked to you about this. 


Ritch Esra: Thanks again. We really appreciate it. 


John Kalodner: Okay, you’re welcome. 


Copyright © 2012–2023 MUBUTV Media. All Rights Reserved.

Music Business Insider Podcast Module