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BRUCE SWEDIEN,
1934-2020

Engineer Bruce Swedien, a five-time Grammy winner known for his work on Michael Jackson’s biggest-selling albums, died in his sleep Monday. He was 86.

Swedien was a frequent collaborator with Quincy Jones, winning Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, Grammys for his work on Q’s Jook Joint and Back on the Block, plus Jackson’s ThrillerBad and Dangerous.

During the making of Thriller, Swedien created a recording technique called the Acusonic Recording Process that involved double-tracking analog tracks.

He first worked for RCA Victor, before moving to Universal Recording Corp., where, in 1962, he worked on Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry”—and where he met Jones.

The son of classically trained musicians, Swedien started in jazz, recording Duke EllingtonLee Morgan and Eddie Harris, before venturing into R&B in the latter half of the 1960s. He engineered Jackie Wilson’s “(You’re Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” Tyrone Davis’ “Can I Change My Mind” and “Turn Back the Hands of Time” and Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes.” The ’70s and ’80s found him engineering albums by The Chi-LitesDonna SummerDaryl Hall & John OatesThe Staple SingersGeorge Benson and Rufus. His association with Quincy Jones began in 1976, with Q's I Heard That!

More recently, as an engineer and mixer, Swedien worked with Jennifer LopezRicky Martin and the pianist Eliane Elias.

 

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