John Mayer reflects on Steve Jobs, recounts getting a pre-release iPhone

Thu, Oct 20, 2011

Apple History, Featured, News

Apple yesterday held a special event celebrating the life and accomplishments of Steve Jobs on its Cupertino campus. As part of the 3 hour proceeding, and highlighting Jobs’ affinity for music, there were performances by Norah Jones and Coldplay.

Looking back at some of the iPod media events Apple has held over the past few years, you might remember that Steve Jobs would frequently end his presentation by introducing a high profile music act to come out on stage and “remind everyone” why Apple is so passionate about what it does. Some years saw Jack Johnson show up and others featured acts like John Legend and John Mayer.

A few days ago, Mayer wrote a blogpost detailing his experience getting to know Jobs a little bit over the years.

Interestingly enough, their first interaction went down in 2003 when Mayer actually built up the courage to cold call Jobs. I guess if you’re John Mayer it’s not too hard to get Jobs’ number. In any event, Mayer called up intent on telling Jobs how big a fan he was of Apple and to inquire if there was anything he could do to help the company out.

I remember the call extremely well; me on my hotel room bed, fidgeting and doodling and circuitously explaining that all I could really explain was that I wanted to have a relationship. I got nervous at one point and started second guessing myself and my intentions for calling, to which Steve replied “don’t worry, I have a very good bullshit detector.” I found it very comfortable to be myself around him from that moment on.

Following that, Mayer was routinely brought in to perform at various Macworld events (back when Apple participated) and could be seen at new iPod introductions and at events where Apple announced updates to GarageBand. Apple also helped Mayer out when it could, such as when, in 2004, it posted exclusive live concert footage of some of Mayer’s best performances on iTunes as part of its live concert series.

I got to know him a bit in our time together on and off the stage. I remember Steve as being almost iridescent; one second he would be talking to you about “architecture” as it related to digital data flow, and then in a microsecond turn his head a different way and mention Bob Dylan or a killer sushi place and just be the biggest rock star on the planet.

In 2007, Mayer was offered an offer he couldn’t turn down from RIM who wanted to sponsor his Summer tour. Mayer had no reservations about saying yes but decided to give Jobs a call just to give him a quick heads up and let him know that the RIM contract would require him to use RIM products exclusively. Thankfully for him RIM only made smartphones!

So Mayer calls up Jobs who, believe it or not, praises RIM for the work they do and casually mentions that he’ll send Mayer an iPhone “to at least play with on the bus.”

I accepted the offer with Blackberry, and in the months leading up to the July 29th release date, the iPhone became the most desired item on the planet. Everybody wanted one, and nobody had yet to see one in person. It was mythical. That day I was playing an ampitheatre in Indianapolis, and sometime in the afternoon the production office got a call over the radio that a sales associate from the local Apple Store was standing at the outermost gate of the venue with something addressed to me. A few minutes later someone knocked on my dressing room door and handed me an Apple Store bag. Inside was an iPhone, and taped to it was a card; it belonged to Steve Jobs, CEO, 1 Inifinite Loop, Cupertino, California. Handwritten on the backside of the card was one word: “Enjoy!”

Just the greatest thing.


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