Jon Landau was a music writer who'd failed as a producer, and who was wondering about his place in the world. Bruce Springsteen was on his second album for CBS, but far from a star. The coming together of the two was their making. "Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square theater, I saw rock'n'roll past flash before my eyes," Landau wrote in a confessional review for the Boston alternative free sheet the Real Paper. "And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time." Landau's endorsement was critical for Springsteen's standing with CBS – the "rock and roll future" line became a key part of the Springsteen mythology. More importantly, it led Springsteen to seek out Landau as a sounding board for his ideas as he prepared his next album. Born to Run made Springsteen a star, and Landau's contribution was so great Springsteen decided he would be the man to guide him through his career as manager, producer, consigliere – not just his right-hand man, but his right hand.
Michael Hann is a freelance writer, and former music editor of the Guardian