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Eminem is among the many in the music and recording worlds mourning the death of Steve King, the engineer who won a Grammy in 2003 for The Eminem Show and also mixed the rapper’s award-winning “Lose Yourself” from the 8 Mile film soundtrack.
King’s résumé also included work with Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, George Clinton, Eminem’s D12 crew and its individual members and 50 Cent and members of G-Unit. He died on Tuesday in a suburban Detroit hospital at the age of 56, not long after being diagnosed with liver disease. In a statement, Eminem said, “I’m very sad to hear about Steve King’s passing. I had the honor and pleasure of working with Steve on many projects in my earlier years and he was a greatly talented engineer, musician and friend. I will miss Steve’s friendly way and sense of humor the most. My condolences go out to his family and all that knew Steve.”
Fellow Eminem collaborator Luis Resto remembered King as “a very genuine, nice human being and good friend” and “the central hub of our team” in the studio. “When we — [Eminem], Steve and I — would be in the studio stuck with a technical snafu or creative Rubik’s cube to figure out, it was often the calm clarity that Steve had that pushed us through to move forward and on to the next thing.”
King established himself first as a musician in the Detroit area, playing in bands such as the Pigs, the Traitors, Paper Hearts, the Boners, the Rushlow-King Combo and, most recently, with poet ML Liebler in Coyote Monk, which was in the process of making an album. King’s first job behind the boards was recording vocals for Aretha Franklin’s 1982 album Jump to It, produced by Luther Vandross. He went on to work with Kem, the Winans, the Romantics, Juan Atkins and scores of others, and also shared his craft and insights via monthly forums at a suburban Detroit bar and at schools and youth centers.
“Steve was always cool under pressure,” fellow Grammy Award winner and Detroit native Don Was said. “He carried himself with a sweet nature, positive spirit and profound humility that belied his incredible power as a soulful musician and inspired songwriter. His work made a major contribution toward defining the Detroit Sound over the last quarter century. Steve was a wonderful and irreplaceable cat and will be profoundly missed.”
Joel Martin, owner of 54 Sound in Ferndale, Mich., where King primarily worked, called him “the coolest hipster I ever met in my life. He had every reason to have a huge … ego. But he was so unassuming and so genuine in his love for recording and music, it was just disarming to not run into an ego. Those Eminem records could not have been made without him.”
King is survived by his wife, Roberta, and their son Nick, as well as a sister, Jennifer Orr, stepdaughter Kimberly Coppolino and stepson Christopher VanderBerg. Memorial contributions can be made to the Deaf Performing Artists Network at www.D-Pan.com. Roberta King said that, as per her husband’s wishes, the family is planning “a huge party to celebrate his life” with performances by King`s music friends from in and out of town. A date is currently being determined.
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