‘He had to be an al­pha male’

Prince’s record­ing engi­neer Su­san Rogers was there at the birth of some of pop’s clas­sics. She tells about the real man be­hind the ex­tra­or­di­nary stage im­age

The Guardian - G2 - - Lost in showbiz - Ben Beaumont-thomas

week­end’s Able­ton Loop con­fer­ence.

She knew this – or some­thing like it – would be her path from a young age. “Play­ing records lit me up like a Christ­mas tree,” she says down the line from her of­fice. “It felt like a call­ing: this is me, this is the street that I live on.” It was the early 60s, and the Bea­tles were a hit in Rogers’ kinder­garten play­ground, as they were ev­ery­where else. “There was this funny feel­ing of doubt – I didn’t seem to be feel­ing the same way the other kids were. But the first time I heard James Brown’s Papa’s Got a Brand

New Bag, I thought: ‘This is the shit.’”

Later, in high school, “kids were ei­ther fans of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck or Eric Clap­ton – which guitarist you chose in­di­cated which tribe you were in. It was al­ways Page for me. That dirt­ier blues thing just felt right, and that feel­ing of cor­rect­ness is ac­tu­ally the ba­sis of a pro­ducer’s value sys­tem.”

But pro­duc­tion work was a long way off. Rogers’ mother died when she was 14 and her fa­ther needed three jobs to make ends meet. She left high school to help and got a job in a bio­med­i­cal lab re­mov­ing valves from pig hearts. She also got mar­ried. “An ex­treme mis­take,” she says. “For­tu­nately for me, the per­son I was mar­ried to was a re­ally

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