Throwback Thursday: Jimmy Iovine Laid Down Beats for Springsteen in 1975

 © 1978 Lynn Goldsmith

This story first appeared in the June 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

With Apple’s May 28 announcement that it will pay $3 billion to buy Beats Electronics, the company Jimmy Iovine founded with Dr. Dre in 2006, the 61-year-old Iovine is about to join the billionaires’ club. But decades before the term “digital music” existed, the former chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M was a sound engineer in New York. In the early 1970s, the Brooklyn-born Iovine got his start cleaning a recording studio. That led to a job as an assistant to Record Plant owner/chief engineer Roy Cicala and work with John Lennon in the early ’70s on his Mind Games and Walls and Bridges albums. “I consider the recording studio where I was born,” he told THR in 2012. “What I am at heart is a second engineer [the assistant to the sound engineer].” Iovine still was living with his parents when he went to work on Bruce Springsteen’s hugely successful 1975 Born to Run album.

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As last year’s USC commencement speaker, he talked about working with the Boss on that album’s 1978 follow-up, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and having trouble getting a drum sound right. When another engineer was brought in, Iovine said that this “sounded like a massive vote of no-confidence” and threatened to quit. But he took the advice Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau gave him -- “This is not about you; it’s Bruce’s album and [about] making it the best we can” -- to heart, and it became his philosophic cornerstone for working with talent. Iovine’s collaboration with Springsteen led to the gig he says “really launched my career” -- his first producing job, which came on Patti Smith’s 1978 hit single "Because the Night." Since then, his career has included co-founding Interscope Records, co-producing Eminem’s 2002 film 8 Mile and mentoring on American Idol, yet, Iovine says, “I learned everything about business and about music and stuff from being a second engineer.”

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