Corney Mims Interview with Speakerhertz
Posted on 20 June 2019
What was it like to work with Michael Jackson in the late 80s?
It was a great experience because of all the people involved. Michael may have been the biggest artist in the world at the time, but frankly, the session musicians and engineers on “Bad” were the real stars in my eyes. I’m talking about people like Humberto Gatica, Greg Phillinganes and Bruce Swedien, who were fantastic at their jobs. To be completely honest with you, the only element that I found to be strange about those sessions was Michael Jackson himself. I thought that he’d be more involved in the making of his own album, especially when someone like Quincy Jones was producing it. But Michael hardly ever left his loft above the control room. I think he had a video monitoring system there, so he could see what was going on downstairs, but he’d never came down himself. So we would work on his music for hours, until Michael would yell from his loft, “Quincy! “, and Quincy would say, “Give me a second guys. Let me go talk to Michael. I’ll be right back “. Then he’d come back a few minutes later and say “Alright, let’s get back to it “. That went on for two days straight, and I kept thinking to myself, “Is this guy ever going to come down from his loft and work with us? “. But no-one seemed to think it was odd except me, perhaps because I was the only new guy there. So thought I would never get to see him – until day three came. I had programmed a drum loop, and was listening back to it on the main speakers when I inadvertently turned around and saw Michael peeking at us from around a wall at the back of the control room. But when he caught me looking at him, he jerked himself back around the wall, like he didn’t want me to see him – I didn’t understand that at all; it was just weird. But my last day at Westlake was completely different from the rest. On day four, a crew from HBO came over to film documentary footage of our session, and we had two studios filled with not only cameramen, but also children and pets. Quincy’s grand-kids were there, as well as Greg Phillinganes kids, Bruce Swedien’s dog, and Bubbles the chimpanzee. So there were things going on which made the environment different, and Michael decided to involve himself with the studio work that day, and we worked on “Speed Demon“, which I programmed the drums for.
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