thread: Prince, Part II
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Old 19th July 2016
  #2
Prince's big listen

In my first Gearslutz Q+A, I told the story of working with Prince at Larrabee Sound in West Hollywood. How he would give me a "private show" while we recorded, spinning on his heels as he played... then jetting out the door telling me to "mix it" as he left. Well to continue the story, I worked on that one mix for hours... and hours and hours.... Never knowing when he was coming back. Or if he was coming back. I had to resign myself to the fact that I was not in control. That was just the reality of working with someone with such a strong personality as Prince.

And he was a very busy guy. And it was not all music that kept him busy. During the first day of the first session I had with Prince he asked me for a "big overstuffed Grandma's chair" (I've shared this story in a Mix Magazine article before, but I'll get into more detail now that the great purple one has passed.) After finding him the right chair, he smiled, sat down and his assistant (and half-brother) Duane handed him a stack of women's fashion magazines. I was confused. "Is he gay?" I wondered. He sat quietly and fingered through the pages of Vogue, Glamour and Elle. This was my first day, so I had no idea what was going on, but a few days later it became clear. As he looked through these magazines, he would spot a girl's photo he liked. He'd show Duane by pointing at her photo, then hand the magazine to him. Turns out Prince was shopping --- for models!!!! The girl in the photo would be contacted and flown out to the session the next week. It was the strangest thing. And these girls would line up. He'd have a different model every night, and they would open doors for him. In fact, he would usually have two limos outside at the curb; a black one and a white one, AND his robin-egg-blue BMW in the parking lot. And there would be a girl in each limo, just hanging out, waiting. And sometimes he would just abandon both of them and drive off in his beemer. Just leaving everyone baffled. Hahaha! The balls on that guy!!!

Okay, so back to the "big listen" story. I worked for hours and hours on that SSL E-Series console, man, I wanted to just blow his socks off with how good the mix was. I wanted to have him love it so much that he would just say "that's it, it is PERFECT!" So I was careful not to "over-mix". When I got it to a point where I thought the mix couldn't get any better, I stopped working and parked myself outside the entrance of Larrabee's Studio B on the couch. Waiting. And finally at about midnight Prince showed up. But he was not alone. He had a girl with him and she looked very excited. I quickly stood up and followed him into the room so I could play him my masterpiece, but he blocked the door. He said, "that's okay, I won't need you", and he and the girl went into the studio by themselves.

So I sat back down on the couch and waited. Prince for certain didn't need my help to play the mix back. Or do anything for that matter. He was faster and better at everything. I think he just tolerated us mere mortals. And I could hear him playing the mix through the door. It was a slow sexy song where Prince was singing about what he was gonna do to you tonight, or something like that. One of so many Prince songs that did not get released. And it was a long song, maybe 7 minutes or so. Then it was silent in there after the song finished. And I waited. Then Prince burst out the studio door with the girl, both of them looking a bit sweaty and disheveled. And they went straight out the door! Gone! No word on the mix, not even an acknowledgement to all the time I worked on it. And I got it.... I just worked all day on a song written just for Prince to get his rocks off with a girl. Wow. It was kind of icky, and kind of cool at the same time. But mostly icky.
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