In Honor of Jimmy Iovine's Valentine's Day Wedding, Five Music Industry Love Stories
The Interscope Records founder and Apple executive is saying "I do" to Liberty Ross tonight in what's expected to be a star-studded and industry-heavy wedding at the estate of David Geffen.
Interscope Records founder and Apple executive Jimmy Iovine is saying "I do" to Liberty Ross tonight in what's expected to be a star-studded and industry-heavy wedding at the estate of David Geffen.
Their coupling is just the latest to emerge from the music business (Atticus Ross is the bride-to-be's brother and his work with Trent Reznor, a longtime Iovine friend whose band Nine Inch Nails were signed to Interscope and who currently holds the title of chief creative officer at Apple Music, essentially brought them together) where successful marriages seem to outnumber hit records. Not that we've done the math... yet.
In honor of the Iovine-Ross Valentine's Day nuptials, Billboard gathered five more industry love stories.
Nate Mendel + Kate Jackson
For Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel, a reunion led to a union.
The year was 2009 and his former band Sunny Day Real Estate was getting back together. Television appearances, press and a tour were being planned and Kate Jackson, Sub Pop Records' then head of publicity, was in the thick of it.
Weeks into the campaign, Sunny Day's appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and a gig at Terminal Five in New York City brought the musician and the label's P.R. director face-to-face for the first time. "I had been a fan of Sunny Day growing up in the Northwest and in the music scene, so I was excited to see them play," says Jackson. "I thought Nate was so kind, really sweet and understated and appreciative. Not that I had an idea of how he would be, but it was a pleasant surprise to me that he was as warm and easy to talk to."
"I thought she was gorgeous," says Mendel. "It wasn't any secret how I felt about Kate. My bandmates knew because we all met her at the same time. After leaving the venue and going back to our van I remember specifically saying, quote, 'What the f--- is up with our publicist?'" Words many artists have uttered about their PR rep, but likely for very different reasons.
Despite the mutual interest, it took a while to get to a first date. "Blowing him off might be the best way to put it," says Jackson, "I was just like, 'A guy in a band? That's unprofessional. I'm not gonna go there.' But he was persistent and eventually we did meet up."
Continues Mendel: "Kate had said, 'Yeah, we should hang out sometime. But the way she worded it was, like, 'When an opportunity comes up to hang out with a bunch of people, it would be great if we could do that.' So I tried to make that happen like two or three times and it failed. Finally I was, like, 'I guess I have to ask her out on a date.'"
Though their first date went well, the fledgling relationship again almost got derailed. "I got sick right after our first date," Jackson recalls. "I had a terrible cold and flu, and he thought I was blowing him off again." Two days later, Mendel showed up at her house with soup and a booklet of DVDs.
"I was basically just carpet-bombing you with attention after the second date," Mendel adds. "It felt like 'Wow, we really have a two-way connection here.' And then a few months later, after we settled into the relationship, Kate told me, 'Yeah, you came on really strong.'"
The two dated long-distance for two years, shuttling between Los Angeles and Seattle until 2012 when Jackson and Meghan Helsel launched Grandstand Media & Management and she relocated to L.A.
Mendel's marriage proposal was more of a scheme and involved 1970s singer Gerry Rafferty's soft rock anthem "Right Down the Line" and the city in which he and Jackson first officially met. The Foo Fighters were in New York working on an episode of Sonic Highways when he suggested Jackson fly out.
"We went to see Courtney Barnett and the next night, Nate made reservations for us to go to Del Posto," Jackson says. "As we grabbed our coats and were walking out the door, there was a busker right outside the entrance, but no one else really on the street. Nate stopped us to listen to the performer. I thought, 'Well, that's strange.' When I realized he was playing Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line," which had been our song since we first started dating, I turned to Nate, and he got down on one knee…"
The two were married in L.A. in 2014 and honeymooned in South Africa immediately following a Foo Fighters gig. "We added another week to the trip and went on safari for our honeymoon, which was just incredible. But it was also really funny because Chris Shiflett, guitarist for the Foo Fighters, was with us. He wanted to go on safari, too. So it was me, Nate and Chris."
Adds Mendel: "We did have different rooms."
As for this Valentine's Day, the couple's plans are up in the air with Mendel returning from a Montana snowboarding trip (no word on Shiflett's whereabouts), but the next night could be a big one for the couple: "I've got four clients up for Grammys [Courtney Barnett, Jaime xx, Tame Impala and Cory Chisel] and Nate's got two nominations [Best music film for Sonic Highways and Best Rock Performance for "Something From Nothing"] with the Foo Fighters," says Jackson. "It'll be a special night on many levels." — Andy Gensler
Dave Haywood + Kelli Cashiola
The first time Lady Antebellum multi-instrumentalist Dave Haywood mentioned to Kelli Cashiola that he had started a band, he recalls her response was along the lines of, “Oh yeah, whatever.”
It was roughly 10 years ago and Haywood had just moved to Nashville from Georgia with the same dreams and hopes as 99 percent of the other transplants. The pair went to the same church and were part of a group of friends that went skiing together in the winter and vacationed together in the summer.
Early on, they went on a few dates, but the timing wasn’t right and for five years they remained just friends. “We had so many things in common,” says Haywood, now 33. “We loved the same music. We knew each other’s personalities and histories.”
Still, as if often does, it took the fear of losing Cashiola for Haywood to make his move. Flash forward to mid-2011. By then, of course, Lady Antebellum was a superstar act and had swept the Grammy Awards earlier that year. Cashiola, who was VP of marketing at Warner Music Nashville, was dating someone else. “I said to my guy friends, ‘I feel like I’ve lost her to this guy,' ” Haywood recalls. “The second they broke up, I called her and was like, ‘Can we catch up? Can we go to lunch?'” It took a few more outings until things turned romantic -- this time for good. “I remember we started to scoot a little closer together on the couch,” he says with a gentlemanly air. “We were probably watching The Bachelor because she’s obsessed with that show.”
In December 2011, Haywood proposed on Cashiola’s porch, under a sign made out of Christmas lights that blinked, “Will You Marry Me?” Four months later, they exchanged vows. “We knew so much about each other we were able to build off the friendship as a foundation,” he says.
The last member of Lady Antebellum to wed, he welcomed advice from bandmates Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott. “They said, ‘Find as many opportunities as possible to have your spouse [on the road] with you.’ It’s not an all-the-time thing, but to have them there for key events.” Just as importantly, because they are both in the business- Cashiola, 33, now runs her own management company and also works with Starstruck Entertainment on helping manage Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire --Haywood says the other understands when one of them has to jet away on short notice or work on a weekend.
In April 2014, the pair welcomed their son, Cash. Since his birth, they’ve maintained their schedule of a weekly date night, usually to check out a new restaurant in Nashville. “We’re still trying to hit all of them,” Haywood says. “Just now we’re going to dinner around 5:30, a little earlier than we used to.” — Melinda Newman
Aaron Rosenberg + Danny Rose
The two had already known each other through a mutual friend when each posted “LAX > JFK” on their respective feeds. “I looked all over for Aaron and he was not on my flight, so I sent him a note.” Danny recalls. “I was in New York for the Cougartown announcement and I usually plan the parties for the upfronts. I said, ‘I’m sure you’ll know people, join us.”
The two made plans to meet beforehand for a drink, and in his natural inclination to pick the hottest spot, Danny almost changed the location last minute, but then thought better of it. “I wrote this weird, wordy text and I’m so not that guy, so I erased the whole thing.”
Arriving to an empty bar at 9:30 where a couple rounds of shots were consumed, “We were kissing by 11,” says Aaron.
They made their relationship official by “taking a trip to Las Vegas to see Mariah Carey,” Aaron continues. “As two gay men, that’s a statement of exclusivity right there.” The two moved in together six months later.
“We met each other in our early 30s and had dated a lot in the industry and weren’t looking to date in the business, but him understanding the demands place on people’s lives was appealing. The music business is a collection of hustlers and it can be intense. Here was Danny was coming from the world of comedy.”
Says Danny: “Story of my life — music and comedy.”
Indeed, the theme continued through their Valentine’s Day engagement (see Danny’s proposal video below) and, seven months later, they were married in a lavish, over-the-top ceremony in Los Angeles attended by many of the music industry’s biggest movers and shakers. To wit: Jennifer Lopez manager Benny Medina officiated while Joss Stone was cantor for the Jewish ceremony.
But that was about it as far as traditions go. “It was so many people’s first gay wedding – including ours – and we wanted it to be serious but also have a levity to the whole thing,” says Aaron.
Adds Danny: “I didn’t want to walk down an aisle — it was never something I imagined.”
“Danny was, like, ‘How about we descend with angel wings?’” Aaron continues, “But I’m not into heights. “Finally, we thought: what could out-gay gay? Come in on a unicorn.”
“That fateful gallop down the aisle,” says Danny with a sigh.
The two are often seen out and about, on both coasts, and it's a partnership they relish. “We’re a team,” says Danny.
Adds Aaron: “It’s nice when you don’t have to worry whether your spouse is having a good time. It’s nice to know you have a partner in crime. And it’s nice to go through life and share all those moments.”
Now that one-year-old son Gabriel has arrived their social calendar has diminished somewhat, both confess. “Are we going out less? Yes,” says Danny. “But we’ve been wanting to bring the party to the house a little more.”
“Parenthod is a game-changer, no question,” says Aaron.
Adds Danny: “But we can’t wait to get back to him, tuck him in and say goodnight. That’s better than everything.” — Shirley Halperin
Ron Fair + Stefanie Ridel
Some music industry romances can take months, even years to develop. In the case of Ron Fair, veteran A&R executive, record producer and arranger, it was a decade before singer-songwriter Stefanie Ridel would become the love of his life. And, in fact, may never have happened were it not for a certain Black Eyed Pea named Fergie.
"I first set eyes on Stefanie when she was 19 years old in 1992. Was it at RCA?" The two, like many a soulmate, finish each other's sentences.
"You were at RCA and had just finished the Reality Bites soundtrack," Says Ridel. "I thought you were really cool and I remember going to Jack in the Box with Fergie and Renee [Sandstrom] because we were always hungry." Ridel is referring to her former Wild Orchid bandmates Stacey Ferguson (a.k.a. Fergie) and Renee Sandstrom.
Fair continues: "They came in and sang for me and I thought, 'Well, this is the greatest white chick harmony group I've ever seen." For the next four years, he would become the group's A&R guide completing two albums with the girls.
"I was 19 years-old and Ron was married; There was no love connection then," says Ridel, adding that she had great admiration and respect for Fair and their friendship . "I always say Ron is probably one of the only male executives or men in power who wasn't inappropriate with me."
"I saved it up for later," Fair laughs. "But I will say, I always lit up in her presence and felt she was a vital life force for me."
Wild Orchid, unfortunately, never broke through and the two parted ways and not on the best terms.
Five or six years later, when Fair was president of A&M and in the middle of forming the Pussycat Dolls, Ridel's name popped up. "We had an open audition at Center Staging at Burbank and word spread that Stefanie was going to try out," says Fair. "I was very excited to see her." At that point, however, Ridel was married and Fair had a girlfriend.
"We spoke once and then didn't talk for a year," says Ridel, who in the interim went through a divorce. That's when a certain Pea named Fergie, who Ridel says is like a sister to her, chimed in: "'Girl, Ron always asks about you."
"We were recording the Black Eyed Peas' 'Shut-Up' and I asked Fergie how Stefanie was doing," Fair recalls. "When she said she was getting a divorce that little light went off in my head. I called her right then and there."
Ridel continues: "I was, like, 'Ron Fair is calling me?' Oh, I get it, this is Fergie playing matchmaker but she was also kind of sick of Ron asking about me."
A dinner at Morton's was set and Fair says his primary motive was to clear the air about Wild Orchid. "Within five minutes of being in her presence, I realized this dinner isn't about the past at all," he says. "It's about the present and now."
While the two rekindled their friendship that night, it wasn't until some three months later at Interscope's Christmas party on the top floor of the Beverly Hilton that a romance bloomed. "It was the boom-boom years and we used to have rager parties and the company was on the hottest hot streak ever with the Pussycat Dolls, Black Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg, Eminem," says Fair.
"I wasn't gonna go, but I kept getting emails like, 'You gotta come, Ron has a white suit and a hat with a bird on it," says Ridel, who arrived late to the party but got to see Ron win the dance contest and lift Pussycat Doll Jessica Sutta over his head. With the party ending, Ron Fair announced, "Afterparty at my house!" A rouse to spend more time with Ridel.
A little later, at his house in Coldwater Canyon, Fair says, were "a hundred strangers and Stefanie." As is still his way, he got on the piano and people began singing.
"All of a sudden it was just me and you and the piano," Ridel recalls. "And you kissed me..."
"And she kissed me..."
"You kissed me…"
"You kissed me..."
"Well thank god and then about an hour and half later…"
"We had a child…"
"People from the party returned with pizza."
"We're lucky we found each other again and Fergie played a part and all the magic and I truly know that Ron is my soulmate and we are supposed to be together," says Ridel. "And to now have these four children, that wasn't my plan, but now I can't imagine my life without them all."
As for their Valentine's Day the duo know exactly what they're doing: "We're very very close and [Clive Davis' son] Mitch and his wife Claire Davis and Doug Davis and I work with Clive and he's Zeus in my book," says Fair. "So Valentine's Day this year is going to be dressing up in a tuxedo and gown and then we'll probably visit a few parties and be in the whole Grammy zone." — Andy Gensler
Luke + Beth Laird
When Grammy-winning songwriter Luke Laird signed his first publishing deal with BMG in 2005, he knew there was something special about the company. Particularly a certain Beth Mason in its Nashville office.
"It was my first job in the music business as a receptionist and Luke's first publishing deal," says Beth. "I met him a few days into the job and we instantly connected but tried to hide it since we were at the same company and wanted to be professional."
Luke, who has written chart-topping hits for such country stars as Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and Eric Church, remembers: "The first day we met, she had on pink pants. After that, I was making excuses to hang around her desk."
It took a few months, but eventually, says Beth, "he asked me out."
Their first "date" is a nebulous designation. "I don't know that it counts as a date," says Luke, "but hanging out at Beth's tiny apartment on her lunch break one day, we were having some fine cuisine from Jimmy John's, and I wanted to kiss her but was afraid I had too much lettuce in my teeth."
Beth remembers that they "instantly connected" and, after being "friends for awhile, it quickly turned into more."
The two dated for five years and were married at a destination wedding in Florida in 2010. Now, says Beth, "We have 2 boys -- a 2-year-old and a 9-week-old -- along with owning our publishing and management company together, Creative Nation."
Adds Luke: "Ten years later, I'm still hanging around her desk!" — Glenn Peoples