“I had seen Billy play a Columbia Records convention. He opened the show, Paul Simon was second and Phoebe Snow was third. He obliterated the place. He was just... unbelievable.
“Later, after I saw him play Carnegie Hall, the two of us had lunch. I didn’t know I was being auditioned. There was somebody else [under consideration], I think... this young guy from England named George Martin. [Laughs] Billy and I had a great Italian lunch, and he said, ‘What do you think is right for me?’ I spoke my mind and said, ‘Billy, I’ve listened to your albums, and I don’t hear the energy that comes off that stage.’ Sooner than I expected, I got a call: ‘Can you go into the studio with him?’
“We got along great. We’re both lunatics, of course, so that helped. But there was something uncanny about him and his talent. The energy that he had on stage is what I wanted to get on tape.”