Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre are ‘Defiant Ones’

Jimmy+Iovine+qDT7Hw1eA93mIt borrows its title from the 1958 film about a black and white prisoner chained together, but the bonds between super successful producers Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre led to their bank-breaking deal selling their Beats company to Apple, and how the two continue to influence pop culture after decades.

So Allen Hughes’ “The Defiant Ones” (HBO, ), an innovative, lively look at the two, told over four nights this week beginning tonight is an unusual combination of classic rock and the far less often told story of Gangsta Rap’s rise. Iovine rose from New York from sweeping floors at a recording studio to being a second engineer to a John Lennon solo record, simply because he decided to respond to a request to come in to work on Easter Sunday. That led to Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” where sheer persistence in finding the perfect drum sound over a two week period helped make him the man for the job.

Gigs with Patti Smith, Tom Petty and U2 followed, with huge albums. Andre Young’s rise was different, as he rose up through DJ ranks to help develop, line by line, the career of Easy Z, which led to the development of N.W.A., whose provocative declarations led to their widening notoriety.

Sound was at the essence of both men’s work, so it was inevitable that Dre, following the implosion of N.W.A., and Iovine, who stopped producing a decade earlier, with the excesses of U2’s “Rattle & Hum,” got together to produce a new approach to music, and then a new way of listening to it with Beats.

There are a lot of stories associated with the two, a lot of previously unseen footage in the studio, and Dre is more forthcoming than he may have ever been in interviews previously.

That didn’t mean he showed up at a press conference for the project earlier this year in Pasadena. But Iovine seemed to have enough stories to tell for both of them.

And yeah, it did have a connection to that Tony Curtis-Sidney Poitier prison movie.

“This is about a relationship between a white guy and a black guy,” Iovine told writers at the the TV Critics Association. “We both grew up in racially charged neighborhoods. And the reason why I agreed to do this was because it was about the relationship, and something about it, we just hit it off and through very difficult circumstances, some circumstances that have never been seen in entertainment before. We got through it. We stuck together.”

“The day I met Dre and saw what he does and heard what he does, he couldn’t shake me with a stick. That kind of talent you know, Ahmet Ertegun told me one thing a long time ago. He said, “If you bump into a genius on a beach, never let him go,” you know. And Dre is an extraordinary talent and an extraordinary person. And we went through this together, and there were some pretty rough times, I have to say.”

But even before that, Iovine had his problems. Like when he got fired by Foghat.

“I got fired a lot. I had a lot of disappointments,” he said. “I got fired from Foghat because I was an idiot.”

in that particular case, he went on, “I fell asleep in the studio. I brought my girlfriend to the sessions. So they fired me.”

He ran into Patti Smith and told her about it, he said, and “She was in the studio. She liked me. She goes, ‘Hey, I want you to produce my album.’ I said, ‘But I just got fired.’ She said, ;I don’t give a shit. I don’t even like Foghat.’

“So, my thing is that you are going to get fired, man,” he said. “You’ve got to keep going … that’s probably the real talent that I have: I’m able to be numb enough to keep going.”

“The Defiant Ones” runs nightly through Wednesday on HBO.

 

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