Illustration: Rob Kelly
Music is Rick Rubin’s overriding passion, the filter he sees the world through, resulting in landmark albums with Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and more. His shotgun marriage of rock and rap — Aerosmith and Run-DMC’s smash collaboration on “Walk This Way” — revitalized Aerosmith’s stalled career and started a revolution in rock itself. His continued involvement with Tom Petty and Johnny Cash helped keep those artists vital and current. He thinks nothing of working with Slayer and Danzig on one hand and Donovan, Lucinda Williams or the Dixie Chicks on the other. And after all this success, Rubin still does hang in ratty rehearsal halls, not letting his bands near a proper studio until the songs are great. He’s an enigma, a cipher, but his love of music is as clear as day.
— Maureen Droney, president, Recording Academy P&E Wing