Inductee Biography for JON IGER
|Jon Iger grew up in Bakersfield, California listening to classical music, his dad’s favorite, as well as rock and roll and the new Bakersfield sound. Jon and his brothers liked to sneak in the back door of KERO-TV to listen to a local show hosted by Cousin Herb Henson. Jon’s mother encouraged all of her children to take music lessons. Jon began with the piano but soon realized the guitar was more to his liking.
By the time he was 16, Jon and six of his friends put together a band called The Titans. Jon booked the Titans at events all over central California. Soon, a representative from Capitol Records discovered them playing at the Payola Bowling Alley. He signed them on the spot, and the boys were headed to Hollywood. Capitol Records released a single under the band’s new name, The Hollywood Vines. The record did well, but unfamiliar with the pitfalls of the music business, the band’s career was short-lived.
After high school, Jon and his friend Rick Draison joined the Army. On a weekend pass, Jon and former classmate Linda rekindled their friendship. They married in 1963, started a family and moved to San Diego. While attending San Diego State, Jon and three friends started the band Rocs bc. They played all around town and in 1969 Jon took a job at West Plaza in Arizona, where he applied his marketing degree. In 1972, he accepted a position as PR Director for John F. Long, Phoenix’s largest homebuilder.
Jon was able to combine his job and musical interest by booking local musicians and bands at marketing events. During this time, Jon was in a band called Sundown with Mike Woolbright (of England Dan and John Ford Coley) and Gaynel Hodge (co-writer of the mega-hit, “Earth Angel”). Throughout this time, Jon continued to gather information about the music industry. Then he met John Braheny.
JoAnn Braheny: “Our great master at the time was John Braheny, who had with Len Chandler, started the Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase, which was a non-profit organization in Los Angeles. So he would come to LA when he could and [to] San Diego and San Francisco, and we would each hear each other’s guest speakers. And so [Jon Iger] would ask people … at the songwriter showcase or at Xpo, ‘Would you be willing come to come into Phoenix to do a workshop for us or be a guest speaker?’ Jon Braheny used to say there’s a difference between expressing yourself and communicating. It was the communicated part that I think Jon Iger picked up on. How to make it a workable lesson.”
Following Braheny’s blueprint, in 1977, Jon, Mike Woolbright and Bernie Bachman launched the Arizona Songwriters Association. Through the years, Jon has hosted many famous guest speakers. Arizona writers have had songs recorded by charting artists and featured in movies and television because they were heard by industry decision makers at an ASA meeting. In 1996, Lon Austin, Gavin Wieser and Jon established the one-of-a-kind annual Arizona Songwriters Gathering, featuring seminars, song critiques and workshops.
Many people aren’t aware Jon is also a publisher with an impressive number of song placements in movies and television. Jon has played in recording sessions, onstage with numerous bands and even occasionally dragged his friends to be in music videos. Songs have been recorded by national artists, most notably “One Night Stan” by Ethel and the Shameless Hussies. In the 1980s, Jon and singer-songwriter Randee Mossburg co-produced a cable TV show: “The Arizona Songwriters,” spotlighting area talent. Jon has won numerous awards and commendations including a national win with co-writer Craig Griffin for the song “The Way You Look In Her Eyes”.
Craig Griffin: “I can’t remember exactly, but I remember turning onto the freeway thinking to myself, thinking about my wife, it’s the way I look in her eyes. That’s what is the most important. And then I thought that could be a good title. I had friends over, Jon over, and we loved to watch the fights at that time in our life. This was about 1988, so after the fight, the other guys left and Jon and I were standing out by his car in front of my house. I said, ‘I’ve got a title.’ Jon said, ‘What is it?’ I said, ‘It’s “The Way You Look In Her Eyes.”‘ Jon picked up on the double meaning of that right away, and we got really excited about it. We ended up writing the song and winning the Rocky Mountain Songwriting Contest. We got an honorable mention in one of the Billboard awards in that same year of 1993. Jon has dedicated his life to helping people with the Arizona Songwriters Association and the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. So many organizations over the years where he put in all this time, and it was strictly volunteer. He’s helped arguably as many people in Arizona as anybody in Arizona music. Not only does he continue to help people locally, attend events, give people information, but he’s helped people that leave Arizona and go to Nashville and Jon supplied them with the connections so, when they got there, they had somebody to talk to.”
Jon’s commitment to the business and craft of songwriting has had a profound impact on Arizona’s music community. Friendships have been formed, writing sessions enjoyed, songs placed and careers forged. In his own calm, soft-spoken way, Jon Iger has proven that action and determination can give rise to a legacy.
JoAnn Braheny: “So I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for being inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame because I think it’s a big deal and he certainly deserves it.”