Born on March 10, 1963, in Lido Beach, New York, musician and record producer Rick Rubin founded Def Jam Records in 1982, soon partnering with Russell Simmons. Rubin later founded Def American Records and went on to work as a producer for an array of artists, including Jay-Z, the Dixie Chicks, Metallica and Johnny Cash. A multiple Grammy Award winner, he has also served as Columbia Records' co-chair.
Rick Rubin was born on March 10, 1963, in Lido Beach, Long Island, New York. He grew up on heavy metal and embraced the early punk scene, learning to play guitar as well. After high school, Rubin attended New York University, where he started listening to rap music. He soon began exploring the local live scene and at age 20 produced his first single, "It's Yours," by T La Rock and Jazzy Jay.
Starts Def Jam
Within a year, Rubin was inspired to start his own record label, which he dubbed Def Jam Records. As "It's Yours" made the rounds, it found a fan in Russell Simmons, who was already making a name for himself in hip-hop. Simmons joined Rubin at Def Jam, and the pair was soon holed up in Rubin's NYU dorm room sifting through demos submitted by aspiring rappers.
It wasn't long before Def Jam scored its first hit as LL Cool J's "I Need a Beat" sold 100,000 copies in 1984. The following year, Rubin began displaying the eclectic nature that has marked the rest of his career when he produced metal band Slayer's new album.
In other developments in 1985, Def Jam saw label-produced album sales top 300,000, which enticed Columbia Records to bring Rubin and Simmons into their fold. Soon, Def Jam was putting out albums by all the up-and-comers in the rap game, including the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C.
Rubin was now a gatekeeper of a relatively new musical genre and one of the key figures in its rise, but a falling out with Columbia in 1988 forced him out of Def Jam. He then moved to Los Angeles, California, and started Def American, which later became known as American Recordings.
With his new label, Rubin truly began to embark upon a journey toward producer stardom, helming hit recordings for the Red Hot Chili Peppers (1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik) and acclaimed work from Johnny Cash. The latter offerings earned the country crooner several Grammys and restarted the singer's career.
Since then, Rubin has only become more influential, making recordings with such diverse acts as Neil Diamond, Jay-Z, Nine Inch Nails, Tom Petty, Eminem and the Dixie Chicks.
Grammy Award Winner
In May 2007, Rubin's magic touch landed him the co-chairmanship of Columbia Records, where his emphasis on creativity often put him at odds with management executives. His efforts and talents in the studio, however, have been unstoppable. Over the years he has won multiple Grammys, two for Producer of the Year and others for collaborations with various artists.
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