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Rick Rubin  

Legendary Music Producer and Founder of Def Jam Records

Rick Rubin (born Frederick Jay Rubin, 10.3.1963)

Rick Rubin is the head of Columbia Records and is a well-respected record producer.

Rick Rubin: Childhood

Rick Rubin was raised in Long Island, New York. His family are Jewish; his father was a shoe wholesaler and his mother was a housewife. Rubin attended Long Beach High School, where he befriended the school's AV director, Steve Freeman. Freeman helped him to learn the guitar and taught him some songwriting skills.

Rick Rubin then formed a punk band called The Pricks. He was not popular with other musicians, due to his rudimentary skills.

Rubin founded Def Jam Records in his senior year at high school, using the school's four-track recorder.

Whilst he studied at New York University, he formed another punk band called Hose, heavily influenced by the San Francisco band Flipper.

Rick Rubin: Career

The first Def Jam release was a Hose "7. It was released in a brown paper bag, with no label. Hose played in and around the New York punk scene, and toured the States with bands such as the Circle Jerks, Butthole Surfers and Meat Puppets.

Rick Rubin then became interested in the production techniques used in hip-hop music. He learnt a lot from DJ Jazzy Jay of Zulu Nation and in 1983, the two of them produced the track 'It's Yours', for the rapper T La Rock. They released the track on Def Jam and the producer Arthur Baker helped them to distribute the record through his Streetwise Records label.

When Rick Rubin met Russell Simmons, he helped to progress Def Jam Records, whilst Rubin was still attending university. The first release on the newly launched Def Jam was 'I Need A Beat' by LL Cool J. Their next signing was Public Enemy and they then released the 'Rock Party' / 'Party's Getting' Rough' / 'Beastie Groove' EP from the Beastie Boys. Along with his work producing Run-D.M.C. Rubin gained a reputation for fusing hip-hop and heavy rock production.

Capitalising on this, Rubin decided to get Aerosmith and Run DMC. to collaborate on a new version of Aerosmith's 'Walk This Way'.

In the 1985 film Krush Groove, Rick Rubin played a character based on himself. The film was based on Russell Simmons' early days as a record producer.

In 1988, Rubin lost a power struggle with the president of Def Jam, Lyor Cohen. Russell Simmons stayed in New York and stayed at Def Jam. Rick Rubin moved to Los Angeles and formed a new company, Def American Records. He signed a number of heavy rock bands to the label, including Danzig, Wolfsbane, Slayer and Masters of Reality. He also worked with a number of alternative rock bands such as The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Rick Rubin produced Red Hot Chilli Peppers' breakthrough album Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

Whilst working at Def American Records, Rick Rubin continued to work with rap artists and still produced records by Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J.

Rick Rubin changed the name of Def American to American Recordings and the first release on the newly-named label was Johnny Cash's American Recordings in 1994. The album revived Cash's career and the pair went on to work together on four more Johnny Cash albums, Unchained, Solitary Man, The Man Comes Around and A Hundred Highways. It was Rick Rubin's idea that Johnny Cash should record a cover of 'Hurt' by Nine Inch Nails.

Rubin then went on to work with a number of established, older artists, including Metallica, Tom Petty, Mick Jagger and Donovan. In 2005, he produced Shakira's double album project, Fijacion Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2.

In 2007, Rick Rubin became the head of Columbia Records. The same year, he won a Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, for his work with Justin Timberlake, Green Day, U2 and The Dixie Chicks.

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