The 70’s and 80’s were Camelot years for CBS Records,” the legendary head of the company Bruce Lundvall remembered. He added, “One of the driving forces behind this wild ride was an even wilder man named Steve Popovich. Eccentric to a fault, burning with a passion for music and mentally mapping out a strategy for every record. He was undoubtedly the best in the business.” Steve Popovich has been described as having “coal dust in his veins and kielbasa in his soul” for his blue collar integrity in discovering and promoting artists from polka legend Frank Yankovic to Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, and Barbra Streisand.
As CBS Records’ first and youngest ever VP’s appointed by Clive Davis, he headed promotion at the age of 26. Steve was twice named Billboard magazine’s National Promotion Man of the Year and won the Clive Davis Award for Promotion Excellence. Popovich’s successes extended to Simon & Garfunkel, Boz Skaggs, Loggins & Messina, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Santana, Janis Joplin, Dave Mason, Mahavishnu Orchestra, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Johnny Mathis, Chicago, Tony Bennett, Earth Wind & Fire, Taj Mahal, Miles Davis, Mott the Hoople, Johnny Winter, and The Chambers Brothers.
After a history-making run as head of promotion for Columbia Records, he became head of A&R at Epic Records and was a key member that signed and brought the Jacksons, including both Michael and Janet, to Epic Records. Walter Yetnikoff, former President of CBS Records, reflected that without Popovich and Ron Alexenberg, Michael Jackson and The Jacksons would have never been signed by Epic Records. In addition, he built an A&R team that launched the careers of Boston, Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, Jaco Pastorius, Wild Cherry, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, The Hollies, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdink, and many, many others. He left only to launch his own company, Cleveland International Records, where his nearly single- handed belief and efforts guided Meat Loaf ’s “Bat Out of Hell” album to over 65 million in sales worldwide and one of the top albums in music history!
Mr. Popovich later headed Polygram Records in Nashville, signing Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Paycheck, and guided the careers of the Statler Brothers, Tom T. Hall, and Kathy Mattea. His belief and influence has impacted an enormous array of artists from almost every genre of music, winning Grammys and virtually every conceivable award in the business.