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Irving and Jeffrey Azoff: Giants behind music’s giants

Irving Azoff, left, and Jeffrey Azoff
Veteran music industry executive Irving Azoff, left, is still at it, co-managing his latest client, U2, with his son, Jeffrey, who also manages Harry Styles.
(Zipeng Zhu / For The Times)
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It says something about Irving Azoff’s sense of humor — not to mention his legendary sense of self — that when the veteran music industry executive started a label of his own in 1990, he called it Giant Records. Azoff, who stands at approximately 5 feet, 2 inches, is best known as a hard-driving talent manager; among the many acts he’s steered toward rock and pop superstardom are Jimmy Buffett, Stevie Nicks, Steely Dan, Bon Jovi and Christina Aguilera. When the Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Don Henley said of Azoff: “He may be Satan, but he’s our Satan.” (Azoff himself joined the hall in 2020.)

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Yet the dealmaker nicknamed Swirv has done plenty else in both live and recorded music in the half-century since he came to California from his native Illinois, including running a major label, MCA; serving as chief executive of Ticketmaster and chairman of Live Nation; restoring Inglewood’s Forum and helping to open Palm Springs’ Acrisure Arena and the much-ballyhooed Sphere in Las Vegas; and founding Iconic Artists Group, which oversees — and seeks to monetize — the storied legacies of artists such as the Beach Boys, Dean Martin and Nat “King” Cole. He’s also lobbied lawmakers on behalf of musicians battling the tech companies that “resist paying for music until you go beat the f— out of them,” as he once put it to The Times.

At 76, Azoff is still at it, co-managing his latest client, U2, with his 38-year-old son, Jeffrey, who did a stint at CAA before leaving the agency to form Full Stop Management with his father. The firm’s other clients include newly signed rapper Cardi B and Harry Styles, a top concert draw who sold out 15 nights at the Forum in 2022 and won the prestigious album of the year Grammy for “Harry’s House” in 2023. (Styles reportedly officiated the younger Azoff’s 2021 wedding.)

Together, Irving and Jeffrey arranged for U2 to christen Sphere last fall with an immersive, video-intensive residency widely described as having set a new benchmark for live performance. The elder Azoff has even gotten into the restaurant business, taking over a pair of historic L.A.-area eateries, the Apple Pan and Nate ’n Al’s, with his wife, Shelli. Look for Irving, Jeffrey and Shelli in a booth at the latter, where they were photographed not long ago hanging with Henley, John Mayer (yet another client), Bono and the Edge.

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