Catching up with Susan Rogers (and Prince)…


An hour ago, just when I was starting to think about shutting down the computer and going to bed, I found myself filled with curiosity. Tuesday night, around the same time, I was listening to Prince and the Revolution’s Sign ‘o’ the Times and marveling among other things at the clarity and inventiveness of the arrangements and the mixing. When I sat down earlier, that experience was still in my head, and my thoughts of shutting down came right as I started listening to Parade.

Together, those thoughts and the music led me to wonder what Susan Rogers was doing. In the mid-1980s, she was the engineer responsible for setting things up in the studio for Prince so that he could do what he does (did?) so well. And by “setting things up,” I mean she built and installed gear as well as maintained it. She placed and maintained mics and instruments. She made sure that all of Prince’s effects and processing gear always had his preferred settings, and she did some engineering for him when he didn’t want to be (or couldn’t be) behind the console.

So what did I find out? From this feature in the McGill Reporter, I learned that as of 2006 she was graduate student doing research on music and cognition. A little more digging brought up an interview in which Rogers describes in more detail what she did while working with Prince.

As to why this is a news item rather than a brief Musing in which I’d lay everything out, there’s a teasing answer. That is, there’s another reason for my wondering about Rogers. Reading about her and listening repeatedly to mid-1980s Prince is research for a post that’ll appear in a few weeks. If you know anything about Prince’s career and its peaks, you should be able to guess what historical milestone that post will mark and on what day it’ll appear. Stay tuned…