Bruce SwedienBy Clive Young and Chris Walsh.
New York (June 26, 2009)–The passing of Michael Jackson on Thursday left his millions of fans in a state of shock and dismay. His colleagues in the recording industry were likewise saddened by the news that the pop idol had suffered cardiac arrest at age 50.
“Michael was, in my estimation, the greatest musical talent I have ever worked with,” engineer/producer Bruce Swedien told Pro Sound News. “And I have recorded all the major artists over the years. Michael was in a class by himself.”
In addition to recording and/or mixing many of Jackson’s albums including Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and Invincible, Swedien has worked with legends including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Quincy Jones, Muddy Waters, Paul McCartney, B.B. King, George Benson and John Lee Hooker.
“I had spoken with him recently,” Swedien, who shared a writing credit on “Jam,” the opening track from Dangerous, added, “but hadn’t worked with him since Invincible. He was incredible. What a tremendous talent, and such a great guy to be with in the studio. Wonderful.”
That sentiment was echoed in a statement by Thriller producer Quincy Jones, who said, “To this day, the music we created together on Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad is played in every corner of the world and the reason for that is because he had it all…talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.”
Philadelphia soul music producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who recorded two albums with the hits “Enjoy Yourself” and “Let Me Show You the Way to Go” for the Jacksons in the mid-1970s, said in a joint statement this morning they were “extremely saddened by the sudden death of our dear friend Michael Jackson. We were privileged and honored to record him and his brothers here at Philadelphia International Records. We are very honored to have been a part of his music and creative career in helping to write and produce his own music with his brothers; we know his music and legacy will live on for a very long time”.
Jackson’s initial run of solo albums–Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory–were the high-points of a career that saw him sell an estimated 750 million records worldwide, release 13 No. 1 singles and become one of a handful of artists to be inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jackson won 13 Grammy Awards and received the American Music Award’s Artist of the Century Award.
Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy, said in a statement, “Rarely has the world received a gift with the magnitude of artistry, talent, and vision as Michael Jackson. He was a true musical icon whose identifiable voice, innovative dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and sheer star power carried him from childhood to worldwide acclaim. A 13-time Grammy recipient, Michael’s career transcends musical and cultural genres and his contributions will always keep him in our hearts and memories. We are deeply saddened by this tragic news and our hearts go out to his family and to music lovers around the globe who mourn this great loss.”
In the wake of the news, the Grammy Museum will display a collection of Jackson’s most iconic wardrobe pieces. Extended from an earlier exhibit, Michael Jackson: HIStyle, and set against a backdrop of his Grammy performances, the exhibit will open to the public today, at 11:30am, PST.