Jimmy Iovine has had one of the most illustrious careers in music. Over the course of five decades, from engineer to producer to manager and entrepreneur, Iovine has been at the crossroads of some of music’s greatest moments. On Saturday, Bruce Springsteen recalled a particularly meaningful one during his glowing speech when he inducted his “little brother” Iovine into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and presented him with the Ahmet Ertegun Award.
It was 1978. “Nobody knew what the words Mercedes Benz meant to me,” Springsteen said. “But Jimmy knew.” It took Springsteen in his orange Mercedes and a ride to Coney Island to convince him to give the unfinished composition “Because The Night” to a punk band called the Patti Smith Group .
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“With Jimmy’s guidance, Patti turned ‘Because The Night’ into a massive Top 5 hit,” said Springsteen to cheers from the audience. “Something I never could have done because I didn’t have the courage to turn it into a love song…Jimmy knows great songs and he knows who can sing them. He has one of the greatest talents and is one of the greatest learning sponges I’ve ever met.”
Springsteen, who met Iovine as a “skinny Italian kid” changing tapes on the recorder, spoke about how his career blossomed in spectacular ways as he trusted his artists, honored his connections and never “taken his fan shoes off”.
Read Bruce Springsteen’s full speech on Jimmy Iovine’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
Jimmy Iovine has gone from being a skinny Italian kid changing tapes and hitting the start and stop buttons on the recorder to a skinny Italian kid at the mixing desk born to run and Darkness on the outskirts of town. I go into the studio and Jon just says to me, ‘He told me he could do it.’ I asked him, ‘What is this boy doing on our mixers?’ But somehow he managed, and with an engineer’s salary, he had an orange Mercedes parked in front of the record factory. That was a moment when no one knew what the words Mercedes Benz meant to me. Jimmy knew. What else does Jimmy know? That afternoon he puts me in that honorable Mercedes Benz and takes me for a little drive to Coney Island. Along the way, he casually says, “What’s with the song ‘Because The Night?’
“What do you think? It’s an outtake, it’s unfinished.”
“That’s what I mean. If you don’t finish it…”
[Bruce interjects defensively] “Yes, I am!”
“What do you want to do with it?” [Iovine says.] “I want to get Patti Smith to sing it.”
Of course, with Jimmy’s guidance, Patti turns “Because The Night” into a huge Top 5 hit. Something I could never have done because I didn’t have the guts to turn it into a love song as Jimmy [did.]
Jimmy knows great songs and he knows who can sing them. He has one of the greatest talents and is one of the greatest learning sponges I’ve ever met. Nothing escapes Jimmy. […] Trust your artists. let them know Hire the best people. Give them the reins. Don’t be intimidated by talent. Recognizing their talent is your talent. Jimmy is brave and smart. He transformed his relationship with the great Dr. Dre into one of the greatest and most valuable partnerships in the music business. He trusted Dre’s vision and recognized the power of hip-hop and its ability to take over culture.
Now, of course, as an entrepreneur, he tells me he told Dre, “We shouldn’t make sneakers, we should make speakers!” So they did. They made millions of them. Jimmy has the intelligence, the artistry, the soul and the confidence to understand his artists, put them first and put the music business in perspective. It’s not rocket science, aside from the fact that pretty much nobody has done it quite like him.
He is an incredibly versatile, visionary leader. Jimmy never took off his fan shoes. You have to keep them on. I still get messages from him born to run Blasting in the background. Jimmy realized that the chemistry in Jon and I’s relationship is the secret formula—not just for rock ‘n’ roll magic, but for rock ‘n’ roll. What does Jimmy know? Jimmy knew everything important. Well, Jim, all I can say is [unintelligible]. Happy birthday little brother. Welcome to the Hall of Fame.
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