Craig Aaronson was a man you probably know, even if you don't know his name right off the top of your head. You will have him to thank for discovering and signing many of the most popular bands of the 2000s! In the wake of so much other sad news, Craig passed away last week, after a very long battle with cancer.
If you listen to Jimmy Eat World, The Used, MCR, Taking Back Sunday, Against Me! or Avenged Sevenfold, you can say thanks to Sir Aaronson right now- for he is the man behind the discovery and progression of all of these bands! Without him, none of these bands, among many more, never would have seen the light of day. Even ex-members of "Aaronson-bands" like Brandon (formerly of The Used) and Fred (formerly of Taking Back Sunday) have gone on to say how their careers would not exist had it not been for this one man!
It is instances like this where it is so fascinating and amazing to see the impact of a single man. Ever so often an industry is blessed to have someone come along who is able to have a huge impact on music and grow a massive game-changing scene at the same time! Aaronson was one of these visionaries.
So who was he exactly? Well, Craig Aaronson, besides being fucking amazing as his Facebook picture said, was A&R for Warner Bros. Records. Years ago, the fine fellas over at Alternative Press did an epic feature on Craig Aaronson, who appeared alongside other music kingpins like (Warped founder) Kevin Lyman and Pete Wentz! I mean, just read the "Why he's an innovator" section, what an amazing story! Check it out:
COMPANY: Warner Bros. Records (wbr.com)
WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: While he was sorting mail at Geffen Records HQ in the mid-’80s, Craig Aaronson used to be the drummer in an outfit called the Freewheelers who, ironically, had just signed to the label. He became interested in the workings of the company’s artist and repertoire (A&R) department, eventually working his way into a talent scout position. He soon left both the band and Geffen for Capitol, where he signed the scene-defining outfit known as Jimmy Eat World. Disillusioned with Capitol’s less-than-stellar treatment of JEW, Aaronson left to go to Grand Royal, where he signed At The Drive In. When GR folded, Aaronson migrated to Warner Bros. where most of his signings—My Chemical Romance, Avenged Sevenfold, Taking Back Sunday, the Used, Glassjaw, Head Automatica, Hot Hot Heat, Against Me!—have taken place in your hearts and hard drives.
PERSONAL MANTRA: “‘Persist, persist and persist.’ That, and ‘Fight for your artist,’ because I do that everyday. I have to convince 300 other people to do the same thing,” admits Aaronson.
BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: His business cards read “Vice-President Of A&R,” but that’s only because “Conduit” would confuse a lot of industry suits. “My goal is to help the artists I work with achieve their dreams,” he says. “When someone from a band I’ve signed says to me, “Dude, it’s all coming true,’ that’s the best feeling possible. My career is working with lots of bands, but bands only have one career. I take that trust seriously and I will always kill for my bands.”
BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE SCENE: Those who despise Aaronson’s bands will agree when he says he’s done absolutely nothing for the scene. However… “Honestly, I feel I haven’t done anything for it; the artists that I sign have done a lot for it. They are the ones that make differences in people’s lives.”
FIVE YEARS FROM NOW: Sure, Aaronson has a track record that makes him a prime music-industry mover and shaker, destined to be chased a high-powered corporate recruiters for companies who lack his vision. At the end of Aaronson’s day, though, he’d rather be rockin’ a club gig than the corner office. “In five years, I’ll still be supporting the artists I love,” he says in earnest. “When you love what you do, why change anything?” [Jason Pettigrew of AltPress]
Similar to the deaths of Dave Brockie and Wayne Static, the music world has taken to the internet to show their true admiration and love for a man that all of us should really know about! I mean, I don't even have enough space to show it all here... Check out this feature at AltPress showing just a small crop of the massive outpouring of love toward's Craig and his untimely passing. The good ones always go too soon!
So, on behalf of music-lovers EVERYWHERE, let me say the biggest of thank-yous to the one and only Craig Aaronson for giving us SO many timeless bands that formed the soundtracks to so many of our memories- music lives on because of people like you!
(Photo: Myriam Santos)