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Jon Landau (born 1947) is an American music critic, manager and record producer, most known for his association in all three capacities with Bruce Springsteen.

He is currently the head of the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As a critic, Landau wrote for Rolling Stone from its first issue and for other publications. In vol. 1, number 1, of RS, 1967.11.09,[1] Landau compared Jimi Hendrix and his debut album, Are You Experienced, to Eric Clapton and the Cream's debut album, Fresh Cream (both released months before, and both Jimi and the Cream having made huge American splashes as live performers that summer). Neither Jimi nor Eric nor the bands nor the albums met with much Landau favor, although he admitted that both guitarists were basically very talented. The next few issues saw Landau staking out more traditional R&B and soul territory with profiles of Aretha Franklin,[2] and Sam and Dave,[3] plus a posthumous Otis Redding appreciation.

Comparing Landau's comments in this handful of articles, it is clear that he valued vocal performances of compact, tight songs and had little understanding of instrumental performance, much less the jazzier, exploratory aspects of the Hendrix Experience and Cream songs, even the little bit in studio cuts. So, it is no wonder that the further the Cream and Jimi got into longer-form jamming in live performances, the more disdainful Landau would become. In spring 1968, at the height of Clapton's prowess in the Cream, Landau wrote a show review that Eric has repeatedly cited as being the last straw in his wanting to hang it up with the Cream, a band that was already on the verge of dissolution due to internal problems. Following what he depicted as a lackluster performance at Brandeis University, Landau for the most part trashed the Cream, and Eric in particular.[4] Landau accused Eric Clapton of being merely a "master of blues clich├ęs," and Eric, very sensitive to criticism, took such slagging to heart and told bandmates Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker that he'd finally had enough, and they couldn't disagree.

Later, he gave The Rolling Stones' record Sticky Fingers a negative review in Rolling Stone magazine [5]. The magazine later listed it as the 63rd greatest album of all time [6].

He also gave a lukewarm review of Bob Dylan's 1975 album Blood on the Tracks, arguing that it would "only sound like a great album for a while"[7]. Blood on the Tracks has nonetheless been considered one of Dylan's finest works[8]. The magazine later listed it as the 16th greatest album of all time.

Landau's prophetic 1974 article in The Real Paper [9], wherein he famously claimed "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen", is credited by Nick Hornby [10] and others with fostering Springsteen's popularity. Landau was then hired by Springsteen, and is cited as co-producer on Springsteen studio records from 1975's Born to Run, through 1991's Human Touch and Lucky Town. He is considered to have influenced Springsteen artistically [11] as well as professionally.

Other artists that Landau has managed and/or produced include Livingston Taylor, Jackson Browne, Alejandro Escovedo[12], and Shania Twain, among others.

Landau was once married to the New York Times film critic (and later book reviewer) Janet Maslin. He is now married to Barbara Downey, a former Rolling Stone editor; they have two children.

In January 2009 Landau received complaints about taking part in the controversial music industry practice of giving a major retailer release exclusives. Wal-Mart was the only retailer allowed to sell the Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band "Greatest Hits" CD.[13]

References

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