Famous Producer Bruce Swedien Dies
The legendary sound engineer and Michael Jackson collaborator Bruce Swedien are dead. Musician daughter Roberta Swedien shared on Facebook that the famous producer died on the night of November 16th. Bruce Swedien has been the engineer of choice for Michael Jackson and his Producer, Quincy Jones, among others. In a rare interview, she reveals the techniques behind some of the superstar’s biggest hits.
Beginning of His Career
Born as the child of a classically trained couple of musicians, Swedien began recording from an early age. By the age of 21, he was first working professionally for RCA Victor and then recording pioneer Bill Putnam on Universal Recording. During this time, he recorded artists such as Swedien, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Dinah Washington.
Bruce Swedien sees himself as a lucky man. Defending best-selling album status in the Guinness Book of Records for over 25 years. As the man at the desk of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, there is no denying that he found himself in the right place at the right time.
Given such a CV point, there may have been a few closed doors to it ever since! But if you look beyond Thriller’s nine-digit sales numbers stand out, it’s clear that Swedien’s story has more than good luck. Her records with Quincy Jones and George Benson, although the first of five Grammy awards came with Thriller. Before that, he had received three nominations for Best Engineered Recording.
The only child of classically trained musicians not only received a solid musical education. He also received unquestionable support when his 10th birthday present, the disc recorder, revealed the power of his true profession. At the age of 14, he spent his vacations recording all arrivals and even setting up his own radio station to broadcast the results to the neighborhood!
The Awards He Won
At the age of 19, he worked for Tommy Dorsey. He set up his own commercial studio in a former cinema in his hometown of Minneapolis. In 1957, at the age of 21, RCA was recording the Chicago Symphony Orchestra professionally for Victor. The following year he moved to Universal Studios, joining Bill Putnam in his pioneering experiments with early stereo and multichannel techniques.
Universal was a great studio. Studio A was a huge room designed by Bill and it was magnificent. The room itself was a musical instrument, it was great, and then I made many, very big recordings there. Bill made me follow him for a while before he really started, but being with him was a nice experience. In particular, I remember he said, ‘Don’t just sit here in the control room. See how it sounds in the studio and listen to music. ‘And I still love doing this.
The Suffering Loss of the Music World
Jennifer Lopez‘s This Is Me … So a typical Bruce Swedien drum microphone setup used to record Omar Hakim in his movie. Bruce Swedien has been transformed into a new Royer ribbon microphone that is used here as overhead. Tom microphones are Neumann U87s, and you can see the small wood/mu-metal pod Swedien uses in his snare close-up mic to reduce hi-hat shedding.
A few years after Bruce Swedien joined Universal Studios, Bill Putnam went to California to set up his studios there. The young engineer was quickly replaced as a music consultant and was replaced by the future composer, arranger, and producer Quincy Jones.
Sweden’s most recognizable feature is his groundbreaking engineering work for Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. It was clear that “Quincy and I can make good music together because we love each other so much.” We think similarly and our tastes are the same. The duo continued recording with major jazz artists such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Vaughan. He has won many Grammys and has also worked with Mick Jagger, Donna Summer, Duke Ellington, Paul McCartney, and more.