The man who made the Blues Brothers into a hit recording act and movie, and who put Cher’s “Believe” onto the charts, passed away this evening.
Michael Klenfner, 62, was a giant of a man in the record business, a friend to thousands and one of the great mensches of all time, died from complications of congestive heart failure.
Michael worked for Ahmet Ertegun in the 1970s and had numerous hits besides the Blues Brothers. He promoted Laura Branigan, Genesis, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, just to name a few. He consulted every single company in the business, as well as Madison Square Garden, where he reigned as an unofficial royalty. He also was deeply attached to the T.J. Martell Foundation.
In the 1990s, Klenfner had more hits as a consultant, literally filling the Billboard charts with catchy songs. I can remember when Cher’s “Believe” was a hit in Europe and when no one wanted to play it here, it was Klenfner who took on the project. Cher’s whole career was revived because of him. He had loads of celebrity friends who loved him too, including Dan Aykroyd and Whoopi Goldberg. He also had two terrific daughters, Bryn and Kate, who took excellent care of him in his last difficult weeks.
I’ve been thinking about Michael a lot since I saw him on July 4th in the hospital. We had a great talk. He loved what used to be the music business. He was so proud that the only flowers in his room (the hospital didn’t allow them otherwise) were from Clive Davis.
When I first met Michael officially it was in the early ’90s. We were at Mark Strausman’s Campagna, where everyone in the business ate at the time. Klenfner was the big pasha, he knew everyone. He was eating with Seymour Stein. They were scheming about something. It was that night that he nicknamed me “Belushi” very fondly for his late pal. Tomorrow, there are going to be lots of reminiscinces about him. He was one of those people we will never, ever forget.