David Z (music producer)

David Z (born David Rivkin) is an American music producer, engineer, mixer, and writer from Minneapolis, Minnesota who lives in Los Angeles, California.[1]

David Z
Birth nameDavid Rivkin
Also known asDavid Z
Bornc. 1953
OriginMinneapolis, Minnesota
Pop rock
Occupation(s)Music Producer, Songwriter, Audio Engineer
InstrumentsDrum Machine, guitar, piano
Years active1969–Present
Associated actsPrince
Etta James
Fine Young Cannibals
Freddie Stevenson
Leo Kottke
Mike Gordon
John Brannen

He is most well known for his long-standing work with Prince, but has also contributed to award-winning albums by Etta James, Billy Idol, BoDeans, Buddy Guy and Neneh Cherry. He worked with Elisa Fiorillo in 1990 on her album I Am, which included the singles "On the Way Up" and "Oooh This I Need", and with Terri Nunn from Berlin on her 1991 album Moment of Truth. He also produced the US #1 single "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals (creating the song's signature snare drum sound[2]) and the A-ha album Memorial Beach. He was a member of Lipps Inc, with whom he had a US #1 and UK #2 hit with "Funkytown."[3]


The Z familyEdit

David is eldest of three brothers each of whom work in media entertainment. His youngest brother Bobby Z. was the original drummer in Prince's band The Revolution whilst his middle brother Stephen E. Rivkin is notable for his work as a film editor, particularly as editor of the Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy of films and Avatar.[4]

Early workEdit

After spending much of his teenage years in a variety of local rock'n'roll bands around Minneapolis, Z spent time between Minneapolis and Los Angeles throughout the early 1970s songwriting and engineering. His early work is perhaps most known over this period in his writing contributions for Gram Parsons' first solo LP GP, particularly the track 'How Much I've Lied', before going on to play a major role in establishing not only the Minneapolis sound but through his innovative use of drum machines, loops and samples much of production aesthetic now synonymous with music from the 1980s. Many collaborations of material was produced by David at Paisley Park throughout the late 1980s and 1990s.


During the mid-1970s, David encountered Prince playing around the Minneapolis scene. The pair went on to record a set of demos with Z engineering which ultimately led to Prince signing a recording deal with Warner Bros. Records. Although much of the detail of Z's exact contributions to Prince's albums is lost in the myth surrounding Prince and his prolific writing and recording, it is clear that his input, recording technique and production are intertwined intrinsically into those recordings. His most well documented contributions to Prince's folio of work are his writing, production and engineering on 1986 hit "Kiss" - originally a song given to the band Mazarati by Prince for their debut album which Z was producing - and his recording and engineering of Purple Rain.

Soundtrack workEdit

Z continues to work successfully in the field of film soundtracks and scoring. Aside from his early work with Prince on Purple Rain and Under The Cherry Moon, Z's work can be heard on the 1996 John Travolta film Michael directed by Nora Ephron, where he produced songs by Al Green and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. His songs with Tevin Campbell "Stand Out" and "I 2 I" are featured in Disney's film A Goofy Movie.


  1. ^ Mix -1997 Volume 21, Issues 7-12 - Page 56 "DAVID Z David Z is one of those producer/engineers who has had the gocxl fortune of being able to successfully defy pigeonholing. Z's credits include dance music divas Jody Watley and Nenah Cherry, as well as work with Prince."
  2. ^ Mix Online: Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy" Archived 2005-02-10 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Twin Cities Music Highlights: David Z Discography" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  4. ^ Twin Cities Music Highlights: The Rivkin Brothers Archived 2010-09-23 at the Wayback Machine