John Lassman and Jon Bon Jovi embrace at the Rock Hall of Fame induction.

To paraphrase Bob Seger, some rock 'n' rollers never forget.

In his acceptance speech for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday in Cleveland, Jon Bon Jovi remembered a little guy who gave him his first big break. It happened to be the Twin Cities’ own radio man John Lassman, who, in 1983 as a 19-year-old Pace University student, was working as promotions director at WAPP, a new New York City radio station.

He was in charge of producing an album featuring songs by aspiring local bands. One day a guy walks into the station with a cassette of a song.

“What grabbed me was the [recording] quality,” Lassman recalled, noting it was cut in a 24-track studio. “The song was good. And boy was he pretty.”

“He” didn’t even have a band; he was simply John Bongiovi.

The song, “Runaway,” landed on the WAPP album and the band, Bon Jovi, wound up in the Rock Hall of Fame. (Here is Bon Jovi and Lassman backstage on the "New Jersey" tour in 1989.)

Lassman, now executive producer and contributor for KQRS’ Morning Show with Tom Barnard, was in the press room at the Rock Hall induction ceremonies on Saturday. He listened as Jon Bon Jovi gave a nearly 20-minute speech. Who was one of the first people he acknowledged? John Lassman of WAPP.

“I was floored,” Lassman said this week. “And I’m pretty jaded.”

Later, Bon Jovi came into the press room. Lassman, who was wearing a WAPP satin jacket from his storage closet, eventually raised his hand to ask a question and introduced himself.

“No [bleeping] way!” proclaimed Bon Jovi.

Said Lassman: “He invited me up [to the platform] and gave me a big bear hug.”

(Photos provided by John Lassman)

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