It is sometime in 1992. I’m in Studio 2 at Platinum Studios in Melbourne finishing Slow Runners—my first proper studio album. We had already recorded the drums and bass months earlier at Periscope Studios, also in Melbourne, and would need only a few days to add everything else and mix it. I would much rather have been in Studio 1 but it was far too expensive for my budget. I’d saved just enough for these few days in Studio 2, organised the engineer and other musicians then booked annual leave from my real job.
A couple of days in and everything is going to plan. We are now in the middle of mixing and my dream of having a proper recording is almost realised. I’m constantly aware though that in a few days time my annual leave will be over and I’ll be back in the real world and my day job.
Then the engineer gets called out of the studio and is gone for some time. While I’m waiting for him to return, through the control room door I see all these beautiful flowers being delivered. I poke my head out and see bowls being filled with all kinds of delicious looking fruits and placed within reach no matter where one might be standing.
Still waiting for the engineer to return I sit down between the speakers and desperately want to continue listening to the song that has been interrupted. I wait, and wait, and wait. I start to wonder about the flowers and fruit. I’ve been here for a couple of days, we’re almost finished, and all of a sudden the place is being fancied up.
Finally the engineer returns and tells me Prince is in town and has booked the studio. I don’t even have time to think about the possibility of meeting the man when the engineer says that when the studio gets the call that Prince is on his way we have to leave immediately!
I protest in the strongest possible way—I’ve taken annual leave to do this, I have a launch booked, and everyone’s got it in their diaries. I have to finish Slow Runners!
I promise that I won’t go anywhere near Studio 1 or touch the fruit or look at the flowers. The engineer reminds me that Prince has booked the whole building and there is no chance I’ll be allowed to stay once the call comes through. I said, they’ll have to drag me out and he says, they will.
I walk out of Studio 2 into the now turned florist shop to remonstrate with the studio manager, but he is nowhere to be found. I imagine he is probably out trying to source a purple coloured SSL mixing desk to replace the existing SSL mixing desk in Studio 1. Instead of the studio manager, I find the receptionist. For the last few days she has shown up to work looking like she has just got out of bed wearing the same clothes she slept in. But now she is looking much different. I can’t see what is covering the bottom half of her body because the desk she is sitting behind obscures the view. But the suit jacket she is wearing is all that appears to be covering her upper body. As ever, I’m distracted by a woman’s beauty and forget all about remonstrating and ask her what has happened to the rest of her clothes. She trembles nervously and says unconvincingly that she has spilled coffee down her front and the suit jacket was all she could find.
I walk back into Studio 2, tail between my legs and think about the power Prince has over us mere mortals. We get back to work trying to finish mixing with the shadow of Prince and the imminent eviction lurking. I think about how many times I had played the guitar intro to the song we’re mixing, trying to get it perfect and it’s still not good enough. I can’t focus on it anyway as I can’t get Prince’s feeble, but perfect guitar intro to track 5 on the second disc of his 1987 double album Sign Of The Times out of my head. I’d always loved it.
The call to say Prince was on his way never came.
Thanks for the songs, the fruit and the flowers sir! Oh, and thank you for the “spilled coffee” down the front of the receptionist’s top. She made herself look real pretty for you.
Originally Published 22.4.16