Pop Culture Chronicles
Bat Out of Hell
The Cleveland Connection
By Mike Olszewski
Boomers are big on anniversaries, and I’ll get to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in a bit, but let’s look at another landmark album that turns 40 in October.
Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” sold 43 million copies on Cleveland International Records, the brainchild of the late, great Steve Popovich.
Popovich worked at Columbia/Epic and eventually started Cleveland International. I say this with the greatest respect, but sometimes he looked like he slept in his clothes.
Then you went into his office and there are the photos with Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and on and on. Popovich told Columbia Records to sign Michael Jackson as a solo artist, and there was a photo with him, too.
He insisted that my wife, Janice, and I come out to see this 9-year-old kid singer he was promoting; it was Hunter Hayes. This guy had a Midas touch and was generous to a fault.
There was an ethnic bar on the west side that was famous for its fish fries. A bunch of us, eight or nine radio and record people, were knocking back beers and eating like kings when the door opens and it’s Steve. He came in for take-out, and while he was waiting he sat with us.
When his dinner came he looked at me and said, “Michael, ask me how’s business.”
All right, I’ll bite. “How’s business Steve?”
He picked up the whole table’s tab and wrote “business conference” on the receipt — the most expensive fish fry he ever bought.
He knew rock ’n’ roll, but he loved polkas. Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople (“Cleveland Rocks”) was on his label and was sitting in his office one day....