John Lennon’s advice to Jimmy Iovine ahead of the Elton John session

Jimmy Iovine recalled the advice John Lennon gave him before a recording session with Elton John after the young producer admitted he was terrified of the job ahead.

In a new interview with Varietylabel boss and entrepreneur Iovine described Lennon as a generous person who took him under his wing during one of his first studio roles on the former Beatles album in 1974 Walls and bridges. “One day, my boss [producer Roy Cicala] was out – his wife was having a baby – and Elton John was coming in to sing on ‘Whatever Gets You thru the Night,’” Iovine recalled.

“I said, ‘John, I’m terrified!’ Elton John was the greatest entertainer in the world. But John said, ‘James, he’s as terrified as you are. I live my Beatle life. It’s very difficult for me to put people at ease. Believe me, he’s as nervous as you are.

This calmed him down – although he hoped John wouldn’t want to play the piano because he didn’t know how to set up the microphones to capture “that Elton John piano sound”. “So Elton walks in, sings the song, walks into the control room…and says, ‘We need piano,'” Iovine said. “Damn it! But I learned an amazing lesson that day. I was on my own, but I set up the mics like I thought Roy would. Elton plays the piano, walks in and listens, and says, ‘Great piano sound!’ John says, ‘He’s famous for that!’

“I had never recorded a piano before. But I learned that it’s not the piano, it’s the guy hitting it. So all you have to do is bring the mics closer together, and that sounds like Elton John.”

Listen to John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”

Iovine was only 19 at the time and couldn’t understand why Lennon liked her so highly. “But looking back as a 69-year-old man, I don’t know, but he must have liked my energy and saw that I was an OK person, and I was always a very loyal person,” did he declare. “He liked it because people were always compromising him. … And he said to me one day, ‘People are going to try to reach me through you, and you’re not going to let them.’ I didn’t know what he meant, but I know now.

Beatles Solo Albums Ranked

Included are albums that still look like time-stamped trinkets and others that have only grown in rating.