Ten things you should know about award-winning music mogul, 1960s UI student and proud central Illinois native Irving Azoff:
1. His first client was a fellow Illini — the late, great Dan Fogelberg. Azoff left C-U for California in 1970 to promote the then-unknown. (That’s them in the photo, circa the '70s).
“What I remember when I think of those (early) days is that we were just so damn cocky,” Fogelberg told Copley News Service in 1997. “Not arrogant but so full of ourselves that we never ever imagined it wouldn´t happen.
“Because Irving gave us that. He was just brash as all get-out and he gave us that confidence.”
2. Azoff is among many famous former Illini who hail from Danville, a club that also includes NASA astronaut Joe Tanner, Oscar winner Gene Hackman and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman.
3. The man loves his Custard Cup — the Danville version, of course.
“When I left home to attend the U of I, we were living on Ridgeview Road, about a quarter of a mile down the street from the Custard Cup,” he says.
“I must have consumed thousands of fudge sundaes and lemon custard washed down with chocolate ice cream sodas. On hot summer nights, we would have round one, then speed across Lake Vermilion in someone´s father´s convertible with the top down, then right back to the Custard Cup.
“To this day, I credit my Illinois upbringing with giving me my work ethic and street sense. All who experience downstate Illinois upbringing are a fortunate lot.”
4. He’s practically the fifth member of The Eagles, as you’ll see if you watch the Emmy winning-hour documentary “History of The Eagles.”
When the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the first person Don Henley thanked at the ceremony was “Irving Azoff, without whom we wouldn´t be here today.”
Standing behind Henley, Glenn Frey chimed in: “Well, we might still be here; we wouldn´t have made as much money.”
5. Among the other A-listers he’s represented over the years: Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera, Fleetwood Mac, Journey and Steely Dan.
6. Just how big a player in the entertainment business is Azoff?
In 2009, The Wall Street Journal called him “the most powerful man in the music industry” and wondered in a headline if he could save rock ´n´ roll.
In 2010, the New York Times called him “a man who sits atop one of the most feared corporations in the music business.”
And in 2012, when Billboard magazine created its Power 100, he occupied first place. “Azoff´s placement at the top of the list is due to his command of the biggest concert-promotion company, the largest ticketing company and the largest artist-management firm in the world.”
7. He left C-U for LA before finishing his studies but does hold a UI degree — an honorary doctorate in music, awarded in 2003.
8. Long before he worked in the music business, he caught the music bug.
First concert as a kid? The Beach Boys at Indiana Beach.
Most memorable concert growing up? “It was August 20, 1965,” Azoff says. “My dad and I drove to Chicago to Comiskey Park to see the Beatles.
“I remember the big Vox speaker cabinets up and down the first and third base lines. We sat on the third base side and barely heard anything but screaming girls.
“But it was still amazing.”
9. Among his slew of awards: 1980 Album of the Year, from the Academy of Country Music, for producing “Urban Cowboy.”
That’s also among the most famous films Azoff produced, a list that also includes “The Hurricane,” “Jack Frost” and the classic “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
10. Best advice he’s ever been given? “Return every phone call and letter — or, email now.”