The music documentary — the authorized oral-history-with-archival-footage style essentially invented by VH1’s “Behind the Music” in the 1990s — is currently in an indulgent and expansive era… its progressive-rock phase, if you will. In 2017 alone, music fans have been clobbered by overstuffed documentaries like "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" (123 minutes), the Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs/Bad Boy Records documentary "Can't Stop Won't Stop" (a long 80 minutes) and even Lizzie Goodman's sprawling book about the early 2000s New...
From sweeping up the floors of New York’s Record Plant to earning a sweet $3 billion for selling his headphones-turned-streaming company Beats Music to Apple, the Brooklyn-born Italian-American kid had made an impressive mark on the entertainment business, rivaling the success of his role model David Geffen.
Iovine was enlisted as a tape operator on John Lennon’s “Rock and Roll” album, then served as engineer on Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” before becoming a hit producer on Patti Smith’s “Easter,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Damn the Torpedoes,” U2’s “Rattle and Hum” and Stevie Nicks’ “Bella Donna,” among other seminal releases of the 70s and 80s.
In 1989, he teamed with department store heir Ted Field and founded Interscope Records, eventually becoming the premiere label for rappers. That led to business dealings with Suge Knight’s notorious Death Row Records, which yielded successful releases by Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur, then a partnership with N.W.A producer Andre Young (Dr. Dre) for the Aftermath label, where the two discovered Eminem. The label also released albums by such trailblazers as Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, and No Doubt, among others.
Having first made his mark as an executive at Warner Music Group, political pressure forced Iovine to leave the comfort of WMG for Universal, where Interscope eventually absorbed both the A&M and Geffen labels. In 2008, Iovine took a left turn from the record business, co-founding the headphone company Beats By Dre with Young, and expanding into the digital world with a short-lived streaming service dubbed Daisy. In 2013, the pair donated $70 million to University of Southern California to create the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation.
When Apple acquired Beats Electronics in 2014, Iovine was put in charge of the company’s newly launched streaming music initiative. HBO aired a four-part documentary about Iovine and Dre, “The Defiant Ones,” over the summer, detailing the pair’s rise and successful partnership.