Contact Us

Jimmy Iovine Recalls Hiding Stevie Nicks in His Basement While Producing Tom Petty

Before he became one of the record industry’s most powerful moguls, Jimmy Iovine was an in-demand producer — and as he told Howard Stern during a wide-ranging interview yesterday, that meant secretly juggling commitments to multiple major clients on at least one infamous occasion.

The late ’70s and early ’80s found Iovine’s talents increasingly in demand. After years spent working his way up the ladder on an assortment of major rock releases and earning the respect of artists such as John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen, he’d branched out from engineering into production, compiling an early list of credits that included albums helmed for Patti Smith, Graham Parker and Dire Straits. Also among Iovine’s clients: Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks, who both happened to be making new albums at the same time in 1981.

As Iovine recalled in the segment of the Stern interview you can hear above, he was dating Nicks while working on what became her Bella Donna LP — a secret he kept from Petty, who he was afraid would question Iovine’s commitment to his Hard Promises album. In fact, to minimize the risk of angering Petty, Iovine admitted he’d go so far as to hide Nicks in his basement whenever Petty came over.

“I said ‘Look, Stevie, you’ve gotta understand. Tom doesn’t know you,'” said Iovine. “‘The basement’s like a set-up basement — it’s nice. When he comes, just stay down there, you know?’ And she did!”

In retrospect, Iovine laments asking Nicks to hide from Petty — not just because it was somewhat insulting to Nicks, but because of the breach of trust the subterfuge represented for his friendship with Petty. It was a period in which Iovine saw his profile rise and his skills behind the boards improve, but as he put it, “I just kept making social mistakes in my career.”

Ultimately, that social mistake led to the hit single that launched Nicks’ solo career. Surveying the material she’d put together for Bella Donna, Iovine said he didn’t hear a hit single — but he had the idea to connect her with Petty for a duet on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” a song Petty had been written and discarded for Hard Promises.

“I said if a woman sings an aggressive guy’s lyric, it can’t miss,” said Iovine. “You’ve got Stevie Nicks singing ‘Than make a meal of some bright-eyed kid / You need someone looking after you’ — a woman saying that to a man can’t miss.”

He was right — “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was a Top 5 hit — but Petty didn’t appreciate Iovine’s secrecy; as Iovine told Stern, “He just didn’t like how it went down and neither did I.” The incident opened a rift in their friendship that has since been healed, perhaps partly due to the fact that Petty was later able to joke that the single’s success ended up buying him a house.

Tom Petty Albums Ranked Worst to Best

Next: Top 10 Stevie Nicks Songs

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Recommended For You

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for 97.7 KCRR quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive 97.7 KCRR contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.