Steve Popovich, a veteran music industry executive who played a key role in Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell" as well as the careers of the Jackson 5, Cheap Trick, Boston and many others, died last week at his apartment in Murfreesboro, Tenn., of causes that have still not been announced. He was 68.
His funeral was held Monday at the Monreal Funeral Home in Eastlake, Ohio. Approximately a thousand people attended the viewing, and the funeral's attendees included Popovich's wife Maureen, his son Steve, his daughter Pamela and two grandsons, along with Meat Loaf, singers Michael Stanley and Karla Devito, Bill Catino ("one" Popovich's partner in Cleveland International Records) and, as one attendee put it, "almost everyone from the music business in Cleveland." Plans are in place for an annual concert to be held in Cleveland in Steve's honor, and a musicians' scholarship fund. Memorial services are planned in New York and Nashville as well.
Speakers included Meat Loaf and former Epic Records Executive Vice President/General Manager Ron Alexenburg, Popovich's friend for 45 years. In addition to a eulogy of his own, Alexenburg delivered one from Clive Davis, Popovich's former boss at CBS, who was unable to attend the ceremony. Davis' eulogy follows in full; Alexenburg plans to publish the many testimonials he has received as a book in the near future.
"It's with deep personal sadness that I learned of Steve's passing.
"I might not have physically seen much of Steve over the last few decades but we were frequently in touch. If he heard music he loved, he called me to share it with me as though I had just been with him the week before. Our lives had touched each other. We had connected many years ago, personally, specially, meaningfully and everlastingly. We had been at the front together, shared the battlefield and had successes and triumphs neither of us had ever dreamed of.
"Whenever I received new music from Simon & Garfunkel or Santana or Blood Sweat & Tears or Chicago or Boz Scaggs or Loggins & Messina or Mott the Hoople -- I could go on and on -- there was no one I'd rather play it for than Steve. When he heard the music, his face would light up like no other. His excitement was palpable. His commitment was firm and intense. He was a leader of men and women and he whipped up his staff's enthusiasm and he delivered the hits time and time again. A lifetime bond between us was created. A sense of family, of trust, of loyalty, of deep connection, was built -- never to fade away.
"Yes, the years go quickly and we both went on to new ventures, new episodes, new experiences. But the time we shared was very special and never to be forgotten. We had both come from humble beginnings and found ourselves in a new world that we instantly loved. We shared a passion for music that would consume us for the rest of our lives. I will so very much miss not hearing his voice greeting me on the phone -- not ever saying 'hello,' not 'how are you?,' even though we might not have spoken for two or three years -- but 'Hey Clive, did you hear the new Springsteen or the new Johnny Cash or the new Tony Bennett?'
Steve Popovich was truly one of a kind. The phrase 'they don't make them like that anymore' surely was written about him. And so to you, son Steve and daughter Pamela and his grandchildren, make sure that you keep the legacy of your father and your grandmother alive and vibrant forever. He was a true music man, whose passion and love of music and commitment to it enriched the lives of millions forevermore."