Bruce Swedien, Michael Jackson‘s long term engineer, has died.
The 86-year-old passed away “peacefully” last night (November 16), according to his daughter Roberta Swedien.
In a post on Facebook, she wrote: “My dad, Bruce Swedien, passed away peacefully last night, November 16th. He was 86. A legend in the music industry for over 65 years and 5-time Grammy winner, he was known for his work with Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and many more.
“He had a long life full of love, great music, big boats and beautiful marriage. We will celebrate that life. He was loved by everyone. Rest in peace dear sweet Daddy-ji. We will love you forever, Bea and Roberta.”
Swedien worked with Jones on Jackson’s 1979 album ‘Off The Wall’, along with his classic albums ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’.
Speaking in a previous interview with Sound On Sound, Swedien said: “Quincy and I first worked together with Michael Jackson on the movie The Wiz. We were living together at a hotel in Manhattan, and we would go to Studio A at A&R Studios. We had a big session at noon on Monday to record some of the music with a big 70‑ or 80‑piece orchestra, and we had to leave for the studio at 10am.
“The night before, Quincy and I had guests at our hotel for dinner, and Quincy still hadn’t even started on the orchestration for the opening titles. I was getting a little nervous, but he said not to worry about it. At about four that morning, I woke up and noticed under my door that all the lights in the apartment were blazing. There’s Quincy at the dining‑room table with a billion sheets of manuscript paper, and he was writing orchestrations. I said ‘Quincy, we’ve got to leave soon!’, but he just said ‘Don’t worry about it’ so I went back to bed.”
He continued: “At about nine o’clock I got up again, and Quincy said to me ‘I’m all set’. There wasn’t even a piano or a guitar in the apartment; just Quincy and his manuscript paper! Off we go to the studio, and Quincy hands over his score to the copyists. He didn’t even want to conduct – he’d hired a conductor because he wanted to be in the control room with me. The conductor gave the down beat, the orchestra played the entire overture, and there was not a single note out of place. It still gives me the chills to think about it!”
He also went into great detail about the recording of Jackson’s classic 1982 hit ‘Billie Jean’.
“I was allowed the freedom to make microphone choices, and nobody ever said a word. I just did it. For example, I used a Shure SM7 on most of Michael’s lead vocals – ‘Billie Jean’, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ – and boy, did that raise some eyebrows!’,” Swedien said.
“But I love that mic, and I have six of them. Michael, Quincy, and Rod were also smart enough to leave me alone while I was mixing, and that meant I did my best work. They’d leave the room and I’d get it all shaped up and ready, and then they’d come back and we’d listen and make slight adjustments, but I don’t remember being too far out.”
Over the years, he also worked with Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Jennifer Lopez, Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer.
Meanwhile, Eddie Van Halen fans recently paid tribute to the late Van Halen guitarist’s work on Michael Jackson’s classic 1982 hit ‘Beat It’.