Prince's unreleased music should be finished by his musicians, says sound engineer


As three Prince albums entered the US charts at the weekend, the woman who was his sound engineer from 1983-1987 has suggested that his musicians finish the vast treasure trove of unreleased songs.

Prince, who died on April 21 aged 57, released 39 studio albums during his life, selling more than 100 million records, but is believed to have left behind thousands of tunes.

In an interview with AFP, Prince's former sound engineer Susan Rogers gave a fascinating insight into his tireless working methods.

Rogers, who started cataloguing the vault of Prince recordings and analogue tapes while Prince was working on Purple Rain, told AFP's Jennie Matthew that on one occasion he was in the recording studio for 96 hours non-stop. She revealed:

• Prince had a temperature-controlled storage room at his Paisley Park recording studio with a door from a bank vault, complete with a combination lock.

• On tour, Prince would sound-check for hours, perform, then sometimes go back to the studio or a mobile truck and record all night. "Four hours of sleep in those days was a full night's sleep to him," says Rogers. Everything was mixed the old-school way, by hand and Prince "was a genius with programming a drum machine". Prince was also a fast worker and would often do a song in a day, from tracking it to overdubbing and mixing it.

• He was an exacting taskmaster. "If he was paying you, you were available to him 24-seven," added Rogers. "We worked Christmas, we worked New Year's Eve, we worked Thanksgiving." She said they parted ways in 1987, after one night when Prince couldn't get hold of her because she was out on a date. "He was really angry about that," she said. "I couldn't do it any more. I just couldn't."

Despite his demanding style, Rogers remembers a man who could "really make you laugh". She said one time the crew was talking about someone being "an asshole," when Prince walked in. "And Prince said, 'let's get something straight, there's only one asshole around here and it's me!'"

Prince in 1986 Credit: Rex Features


Rogers believes his horde of recording should be opened up and made available to historians, scholars and fans. "Music is an expression of life and let's hear these expressions of Prince's life," she said. It is not known if Prince made a will specifying what should happen to his unreleased recordings. "It would be nice for historians and fans and scholars if someone went through that material. I'd like to see the music put in the hands of the people who knew him best artistically and that would be the musicians who worked with him through different eras."

Read: Prince at the 02, the 21 nights that dazzled London

Rogers suggested that musicians with whom he worked in the Eighties and Nineties be allowed to finish unreleased songs in the style that they worked back then. "I think that would be lovely," she said.

Prince's dedication to music was renowned. In February 2014 he was so keen to play at the venues in which his musical hero Jimi Hendrix had played that he arranged and played a special one-off gig at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London, the site of Hendrix's last live concert.

The interest in Prince's unreleased work would be huge. His three albums that re-entered the charts this weekend were: at number one The Very Best of Prince, a greatest hits collection released in 2001, his 1984 album Purple Rain at number two, and a three-disc collection from 1993, The Hits/The B-Sides, at number six.