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Rick Rubin - All about the producer. Full biography

"...When 'def' went from street slang to mainstream, it was defeated..."

The story of Rick Rubin - the greatest pioneering producer ever!

Rick Rubin is a widely known music producer, whose formation (as well as his childhood) took place in the USA. Rick started his own record company while studying at "New York University". Today, in music circles, he is known as the man who created American Recordings, co-founded Def Jam Records and co-president of Columbia Records!

Rick Rubin played a key role in popularising 80s hip hop! And his collaborations with rock stars such as Aerosmith, AC/DC and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have resulted in an amazing legacy for generations of listeners... And yes: it was through his efforts that names such as Run-DMC, Dixie Chicks, Beastie Boys, and even Johnny Cash were heard on both sides of the ocean!

Not many people know, but Rick is also a huge supporter of professional wrestling! He even funded Smoky Mountain Wrestling for a while! In fact, this amazing man is what we're going to talk about today!

Rick Rubin
Rick Rubin

Childhood and first introduction to music....

Frederick J. Rubin was born on 10 March 1963 in Long Beach, New York, the son of Michael and Linda Rubin. His father was a shoe wholesaler and his mother was a homemaker. Rick was the only child in the family ...

The boy spent his early years in Long Beach. In high school, Rick learnt the basics of songwriting and guitar playing. He took lessons from Steve Freeman, the director of the school's audio-visual department.

It's worth noting that Rick grew up on heavy metal and early punk. He often travelled to Manhattan to see the Ramones, the pioneers of New York punk! So it's no surprise that he and his high school friends formed a garage punk band called The Pricks. For the first time, the guys even performed at a famous NYC institution called CBGB! Really, until they were kicked out due to a fight with the audience....

Rick Rubin as a young man ...
Rick Rubin as a young man ...

After that, Rick formed a new band called Hose. They travelled all over the country (especially the Midwest and California). So, with the help of a four-track school device, Rubin started his own record company... From that moment on, his life changed dramatically!

Career : The major milestones of a great producer ...

Rick Rubin.
Rick Rubin.

Music has always been Rick's main passion... Having founded his own record company Def Jam Records in 1982 (in the dormitory of "New York University"), he soon released the first single of his band "Hose". And even though the song was not a great success, somewhat later the collective broke up not because of that... The reason was Rubin's interest in hip-hop music.

Popularising the hip-hop genre!

Collaborating with DJ Jazzy Jay helped Rubin scrutinise the details of hip hop production. Together, they produced "It's Yours" (1983) for rapper T La Rock.

Through Jazzy Jay, Rubin met concert promoter and manager Russell Simmons. Together they officially founded the Def Jam Records label in 1984. Rubin was still attending "NYU" at the time....

The label's first release was "I Need a Beat" by LL Cool J. In the mid-1980s, Rubin explored New York City neighbourhoods such as Brooklyn, Harlem, Queens and Long Island in search of rap and hip-hop artists. He was soon signed to Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys, whose 1985 EP was a huge success!

At the suggestion of a friend - Sue Cummings, editor of Spin magazine - Rubin combined the work of Run-DMC and Aerosmith, resulting in "Walk This Way" (1986). Thus, rap-rock became part of the mainstream, and the song itself helped revitalise the career of the hard monsters!

First experience in cinema....

Rick's first film experience came while producing the soundtrack for the film "Less Than Zero". Rubin was also announced as the film's musical director.

In 1988, Rick co-wrote Tougher Than Leather, the second film of the Run-DMC group.

In the same year Rubin had a disagreement with Def Jam Records president Lior Cohen. Soon Rick left the company and went to California, where he founded Def American Records. But more about that period later....

Working with rock bands

During his long career, Rick Rubin has worked with a number of rock metal bands, including Slayer (Reign in Blood) and The Cult (Electric - the third and most significant album by the British rock band). While working with heavy metal bands, Rick also continued to collaborate with Run-DMC, Public Enemy and LL Cool J.

Rubin worked with the Red Hot Chili Peppers for over 20 years. They released a total of 6 studio albums (including their debut Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which was a huge commercial success), which at different times set many records and brought several Grammy Awards! And 3 out of 6 albums were included in Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list!

About Def American Records...

Now back to Rubin's new company, Def American Records... In 1993, when Rick learned that the word def had been included in the standard dictionary, he staged a real funeral for the word... The producer declared:

"...When 'def' went from street slang to mainstream, it was defeated..."

Soon the name of the label was changed to simply "American Recordings". The company's first major release was Johnny Cash: the 5 albums produced by Rubin were a great success, and helped save the musician's fragile career...

Rick Rubin told reporters about his "favourite"!

Rick subsequently released many successful albums such as: "Wandering Spirit" (1993) by Mick Jagger, "Wildflowers" (1994) by Tom Petty, "Sutras" (1996) by Donovan, and "Death Magnetic" (2008) by Metallica!

Rick Rubin also produced Jay Z's track "99 Problems" and starred in his music video!

However... as the producer himself admitted, there was only one person along the way who really impressed him with his dedication to music... Who are we talking about? Eminem!

Rick Rubin and Eminem
Rick Rubin and Eminem

According to Rick, Eminem is one of his favourite artists he has worked with. Rubin admires the rapper's dedication to his craft, the fact that Em gives his whole life to music....

"He is the most obsessive artiste I've ever had the pleasure of working with. He's totally committed. Sometimes it seems as if there is nothing else in his life but music! He's writing 24 hours a day. He just can't seem to stop..." - said Rick Rubin in an interview.....

Conclusion...

In the spring of 2007, Rick Rubin was named co-head of Columbia Records. He later won several Grammys for his work with artists such as the Dixie Chicks, U2, Green Day, Metallica, Neil Diamond, Jakob Dylan, Weezer...

In 2012, Rick left Columbia Records and returned to American Recordings in partnership with Republic Records. The new venture worked with a diverse group of artists, including blues-rock veterans ZZ Top!

Today, Rick Rubin is the first producer to fuse rap and rock. His first work brought groundbreaking changes to hip-hop music, though he later focused on rock...

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