As It Happens

Purple Rain's sound engineer remembers Prince: 'A very rare bird'

The music world has lost an icon today. As it Happens speaks with Prince's former sound engineer on Purple Rain and a club manager who worked with the music legend during his early days in Minneapolis.
U.S. musician Prince performs for the first time in Britain since 2007 at the Hop Farm Festival near Paddock Wood, southern England July 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Olivia Harris)
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U.S. musician Prince performs on stage at Yas Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi November 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Jumana El-Heloueh)
The music world has lost a legend. Prince, best known for his hit-singles like Little Red Corvette and When Doves Cry, died Thursday at his Paisley Park studio in Minnesota. He was 57. A cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

After releasing his first album in 1978, Prince's success never waned over the years. His 1984 album, Purple Rain, is considered one of the best albums of all time.

Prince's former sound engineer, Susan Rogers, describes Prince as "a very rare bird."

"I'm proud to have worked for one who had the courage to have a good life and leave behind a reputation that is deserving of his musical legacy. That's rare," she tells As it Happens guest host Laura Lynch.  

Rogers first met Prince in the summer of 1983, when she was hired to work as his sound engineer on Purple Rain. She calls it her "dream job." Rogers remembers spending very long hours in the studio with Prince — a typical work day lasting at least 24 hours. 

As they were recording the album Rogers remembers, "We had a sense that we had a full can of whoop-ass." She calls Purple Rain a "work of genius."

"[Prince] would be fuelled simply by the excitement and the rare privilege of being allowed to do this for a living. And, he had so much to say," says Rogers. 

Prince was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1958. Even as he achieved international fame, his Paisley Park Estate and recording studio were his home base. 

One of his key relationships in Minneapolis was with with the legendary concert venue First Avenue — which was featured in the film Purple Rain. Steve McClellan managed that club for 30 years and was a co-owner. He remembers Prince as "hard-working" and a "perfectionist," "who was very focused on what he wanted to do." 

Minneapolis club owner remembers Prince's early days 5:04

"He was one of those performers who deserved the credit," says McClellan. "He never turned in anything but a spectacular performance." 

For more, take a listen to our full interviews with Rogers and McClellan. 

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