Bruce Swedien, a Shaper of Michael Jackson’s Sound, Dies at 86

Bruce Swedien, a Shaper of Michael Jackson’s Sound, Dies at 86

Bruce Swedien, a Shaper of Michael Jackson’s Sound, Dies at 86

Bruce Swedien, a Shaper of Michael Jackson’s Sound, Dies at 86

He earned his first Grammy nomination for engineering the Four Seasons’ single “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1962. After going independent in 1969, he recorded a wide range of artists, including Muddy Waters, the Chi-Lites, Hall & Oates, Lesley Gore and Roberta Flack.

When “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music” — recorded during a Broadway run by Ms. Horne — was released in 1981, John S. Wilson of The New York Times praised Mr. Swedien’s work, writing: “She is an intense performer who shapes every syllable that she sings or speaks to achieve the full impact that she intends, from soft to soothing, from anger to joy.” Whichever way it goes, Miss Horne is in it all the way, completely, and Bruce Swedien’s recording has caught the full flavor of it.”

By then, he had been nominated for four more Grammys, including two for albums produced by Mr. Jones, one by George Benson and one by the synth-pop Electronic Concept Orchestra.

His collaboration with Mr. Jackson also led to nominations in the 1990s for songwriting (the single “Jam,” written with Mr. Jackson, René Moore and Teddy Riley) and for co-producing (“HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I”).

In addition to his daughter Roberta, Mr. Swedien, who lived in Ocala, Fla., is survived by another daughter, Julie Johnson, and his wife, Beatrice (Anderson) Swedien, a close partner in his work since they married as teenagers.

After Mr. Swedien’s death, Mr. Jones said on Instagram that he was “without question the absolute best engineer in the business” and a “sonic genius.”


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