Prince Collaborators Reflect on 1987 Opus ‘Sign O’ the Times’
“[Ideas] just flowed out of him like he was a conduit to the universe,” says Revolution keyboardist Matt Fink
by Ron Hart
By the mid-80s, Prince was a global superstar thanks to the worldwide success of 1984’s Purple Rain.
So when he started work on his follow-up — eventually released on March 31, 1987 as the double-LP Sign O’ the Times — it came amidst a creative tsunami that saw two more classic albums with his longtime band the Revolution (1985’s Around The World in A Day and the following year’s Parade), the 1986 film Under The Cherry Moon and three ultimately shelved titles (Dream Factory, Camille and Crystal Ball).
For those who worked closest to him during this period, including Revolution keyboard wizard Matt Fink (aka Dr. Fink), longtime engineer Susan Rogers and bassist Levi Seacer, Jr., it was astounding to see such a voluminous output from Prince during this time.
“His creative mind is just so wild,” Fink tells SPIN. “Like he was always thinking of stuff. He was always thinking and conjuring up ideas. It just flowed out of him like he was a conduit to the universe. He was a muse of the universe.”
“I had a lot of personal time with him,” Seacer explains. “And when I was with him by himself, it was really like sitting with one of your regular buddies. And it was so interesting being around somebody whose fountain was just overflowing with creativity, and then you go back into the real world and everybody’s fountains are cut off. So what he was good at was trying to encourage you to open that fountain and say, ‘Hey, you got a lot in there; why don’t you just let it out so you can put more in?’ I didn’t realize I could actually do all of that. And when you do that, you can really find out who you are, and then that faucet don’t stop flowing.”