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Jimmy Iovine’s secret to success? Turning fear ‘into a tailwind’

jimmy iovine

HBO’s four-part miniseries The Defiant Ones documents how the unlikely partnership of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine became one of the most fruitful partnerships in music history.

While the film, which debuted on Sunday, begins with the drama around Iovine and Dre’s $3.2 billion deal with Apple over Beats headphones (I won’t ruin it for you, but there is dramaThe Defiant Ones goes way back in time, detailing the two producers’ journeys separately.

Dre and Iovine had very different starts in the music business.

Dr. Dre was a musical prodigy from an early age and became known for his DJ skills around his neighborhood.

Iovine, on the other hand, was a college dropout who didn’t want to go work on the docks like his dad and uncles.

While Jimmy Iovine was looking for work, his cousin Ellie Greenwich, a songwriter on the scene in the 60s, got him a job at a recording studio mopping the floor.

As the story goes, Jimmy would pester the main producer in charge of the studio to let him work on the boards and on one Easter Sunday, Iovine got his break.

Iovine told Page Six about his experience on Easter as a 19-year-old,

“It’s Easter 1973. I’m 19. Doing clean-up work. Sunday the record studio called. Come in. Answer the phone. They had a slot open. I said, ‘On my way.’ My mom, upset, said relatives were coming over after church. I said, ‘Going to work. I’m saying no to nothing.’”

It’s clear that Iovine saw the recording studio as an escape route from his surroundings,

“This record place looked to me incredible. Better than my dad working on the docks. I saw future possibility.”

Turns out Jimmy was right. Guess who was waiting for him at the studio?

“And my first recording session? John Lennon.”

Imagine the intimidation. John f*cking Lennon. But Iovine talks at length in The Defiant Ones the key to his success is being able to “turn fear into a tailwind instead of a headwind.”

In an interview with Esquire, Iovine said being able to conquer that fear is what produces success,

“Bruce Springsteen is as afraid as any of us, but he knows how to conquer it. If you’re great, that means you’re freaked out that the next day you’re not going to be great. You keep trying. Never be satisfied.”

Pretty awesome stuff.

All four episodes of The Defiant Ones are available on HBO and its streaming services. Go watch that.