Jimmy Iovine
Biography Written by Becky Shimko.

Jimmy Iovine was born on March 11, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. His music industry career started out as an engineer, but he was to become one of the biggest producers of the 1980's. In 1973 he began to work at the Record Plant in New York City, described by Danny Goldberg as the "famed recording studio that had spawned a hundred hits." He first produced an album for the band Flame, a fairly obscure band out of New Jersey. In 1978, he produced Patti Smith's Easter, which spawned the top 40 hit "Because the Night." His work on that album proved to be his big break, and in 1979, Jimmy worked with Tom Petty on his album Damn the Torpedoes. He would go on to produce Hard Promises in 1981 and in 1982's Long After Dark for Tom as well.

When Danny Goldberg needed a producer in 1981, he turned to Jimmy. Danny needed Jimmy to produce the album Bella Donna for Stevie Nicks, who had reached stardom with Fleetwood Mac but wanted to begin a solo career. Although Jimmy could appreciate fully Stevie's talent, he was somewhat more practical than Stevie herself was at times. He agreed to do the album with her, as long as he knew Stevie was going to give him one hundred percent-and Stevie promised to finish the album on schedule, as Fleetwood Mac had a reputation for "notorious studio excesses," as it is called on Stevie's Behind the Music. Jimmy and Stevie soon began a personal relationship alongside their professional one.

When Tom Petty had been working on an album, he had written a song called "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." He decided not to use it for his album, and told Jimmy that Stevie could use it if she wanted to. Since Tom Petty was one of Stevie's favorite songwriters, she was very willing to do the song. She sang it with Tom and it was the first single released from Bella Donna. Tom also played guitar on another track off of Bella Donna, "Outside the Rain." "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," produced by Jimmy, hit #3 and paved the way for Bella Donna to reach the number one position, which it did in September of 1981.

Jimmy would go on to produce The Wild Heart in 1983 and Rock A Little in 1985 for Stevie. However, during the recording of Rock A Little, Stevie's cocaine addiction started affecting her performance and Jimmy began to lose interest in helping her. He walked out before the album was finished, which deeply affected Stevie and basically made everyone who worked with her a little nervous-he had been such a fundamental part of her success-as Paul Fishkin puts it, "He had helped to create the magic…and now that they weren't getting along, we were all getting a little nervous."

Jimmy produced the Pretenders' "Get Close" in 1986 and Patti Smith's comeback album in 1988. He closed out the decade with U2's "Rattle and Hum" in 1989. As the '90s opened, Jimmy began to draw away from producing. He founded the record company Interscope Records, which soon established itself as a major force in the music industry. Interscope now has on its label such acts as Primus, No Doubt, Bush, and the Wallflowers. The label at the same time has been involved in controversy concerning its connection with Death Row-the infamous rap label. Interscope also signed the one and only, Marilyn Manson, putting it in the spotlight even more as Marilyn Manson takes the heat for more and more of the violence in America. Jimmy Iovine is today a powerful record executive who rarely, if ever, produces an album anymore. However, his legacy as one of the major producers of the '80s speaks for itself-the man was magic in the studio. As Stevie Nicks said to him once, whether or not he wanted to hear it, "You're very Rhiannon."


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