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He was headhunted as the first A&R executive for David Geffen's new label Geffen Records in 1980, where he worked with Asia, White Zombie, Madness, XTC, Whitesnake, Wang Chung, Nelson and Aerosmith. He brought Jimmy Page and Sammy Hagar success as solo artists and was responsible for the musical collaboration Coverdale•Page.
Kalodner also placed songs on soundtracks of such films as Top Gun and Footloose. Kalodner followed Aerosmith to Columbia in the nineties, where he also worked with Cher, Santana, Journey, Manowar, Chicago, Heart, Iron Maiden, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon, Mars Electric, and the Black Crowes, among others.
Kalodner's special status was underlined by the fact that he is usually credited on albums for simply being himself. According to Kalodner's web site, the phrase "John Kalodner: John Kalodner" originated with Foreigner's 1978 Double Vision album, when the album's producer, Keith Olsen, was wondering just how to credit Kalodner's involvement with the band and the album. In keeping with the double vision theme, Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones came up with idea of doubling Kalodner's name. Kalodner's work with other record labels, such as Epic with Boston, can be heard on their Greatest Hits on the original 1997 track listing featuring an edit by him of their song, "Higher Power", as the final track of the album (The 2009 re-issue of the album does not feature this track).
In other media
- John Kalodner briefly appeared in a few Aerosmith music videos including the videos for "Let the Music Do the Talking", "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "The Other Side", "Eat the Rich", "Blind Man", and "Pink". He was dressed as a bride in the "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" video as a private joke, because he almost always dresses entirely in white.
- John Kalodner appeared in the "Flaming Moe's" episode of The Simpsons, which featured Aerosmith.
- John Kalodner also made a cameo appearance in Revolution X as the face of the sphinx in the Middle East level. This being so because the main characters in Revolution X are none other than Aerosmith themselves, and at the time, Aerosmith was still with Geffen Records during their Get a Grip tour.
- John Kalodner appeared in videos for the band Jackyl, with whom he worked in the early 1990s.
- John Kalodner appeared as the judge in Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55" music video.
- John Kalodner appeared on the cover of GPS' (a band featuring ex-Asia cover band members) 2006 album Windows to the Soul as sitting in front of a TV.