SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Music is a hot topic these days, especially with the three-part Beatles documentary “Get Back” now streaming on Disney +. It’s archival footage that gives music lovers a close-up view of the creative process rarely seen.
Syracuse University music industry professor Todd Herreman has lived it. A job out of college selling high-end synthesizers led to a gig he says changed his path in a big way, operating one of those synthesizers for a year in studio and on tour with Prince. It was the late 80’s when the songwriting genius was working on ‘Sign O’ the Times.’
There is so much mystique around Prince… who once took on the identity “the Artist Formerly Known As”… And yet Todd Herreman says what it all came down to in the studio was the musician’s intense focus.
“One of my favorite Prince stories,” Herreman says, “is when we were recording literally three days straight. No sleep… And (Prince) said, ‘Todd, that’s the problem. I can’t sleep at night. God hands me a groove.’ Sorry, I get choked up when I think about this,” Herreman paused slightly before continuing the story. “God hands me a groove and I can’t throw it away… And it speaks to his belief that the music doesn’t come from him, it comes through him.”
Prince has been gone five years now. But Herreman got a nice surprise when Paisley Park re-issued a deluxe “Sign O’ the Times” box set last year. It included a beautiful full-color book and lot of bonus material, including many additional songs that Herreman had worked on.
“What I didn’t know,” Herreman says, “until the re-issue came out was that I got assistant engineer credits on a number of the songs.”
Todd Herreman pays close attention to the release of material from “The Vault,” the legendary and massive collection of music that Prince’s estate is sharing bit by bit with fans. And he wonders what other collaborators have pondered with each release. “What would Prince think? And the response was, ‘I hope he’s looking down and saying ‘Good job.’”