Today, Thursday 21 April 2016, marks the day the world mourns the loss of one of the greatest musicians and entertainers of all time, “PRINCE” ROGERS NELSON. I’m pretty certain that almost everyone I know is experiencing the emotional haze of his passing in various degrees.
While I’d heard rumblings of canceled shows and an emergency airplane landing in recent weeks, the news is nonetheless unexpected and devastating! I mean…I grew up with, and probably to his music. I was eight years old when his debut LP “For You” was released in 1977, so by the time the “Purple Rain” album and feature film hit the record shelves and theaters respectively in 1984, I was a high school freshman and an undoubtedly loyal Prince disciple. Those pre-Purple years in between saw the release of the self-titled “Prince”, “Dirty Mind” “Controversy” and “1999” LPs, as well as their respective music videos in constant rotation on a fledgling MTV channel. The Superfriends Hour, and probably the entire Saturday morning cartoon lineup combined, held only a lamb’s share of my boob tube gawking time during my ‘tweens. It was all about music videos, especially as the triumvirate of Prince, Michael Jackson and Madonna ruled the airwaves during the conglomerate network’s startup days in the early and mid 1980s.
Throughout high school and my early college years, Prince’s music continued to entertain me, to mystify my ears, and to challenge my musical sensibilities–despite a solid rearing in rock, soul, funk and pop by older cousins, young-at-heart uncles and aunts, hip teachers and discerning friends. The albums that followed the massive Purple Rain juggernaut–“Around The World in a Day”, “Parade”, “Sign O The Times” and 1988’s “Lovesexy”–all came with a new level of maturity, stretching the breadth of his musical spectrum, etching a place in music’s pantheon among the greatest of all time.
Even while I became enamored by the work of other amazing artists in hip-hop, jazz, neo-soul and eventually world music, I’m proud to say that I bought each Prince (w/various backing bands) studio album in the year it was released, even if the wider music palette of my adult life found me less rabid a Prince fan as I was while in school. I even attended an amazing concert date at Hawaii’s Blaisdell Auditorium years later in 1996. Today though, in my mid 40’s, I have to admit that I’m rocking the “Art Official Age” and “HITnRUN: Phase 1” and “-Phase 2” CD’s in my car on the regular! With expert-level production and musicality, these late-career albums are highly relevant and in tune with today’s current soundscape. Those with good ears will agree.
PRINCE the man has been described as a kind, gentle and loving person by many who knew him. He’s been lauded as a musical genius, even early on in his career. PRINCE has always been the consummate artist, expressing his truest nature fearlessly in the studio, on the screen, on the stage, and in the boardroom. The artist and his work are simply divine gifts. It’s kinda uncanny that his unresponsive body was found in an elevator at his long-time home/recording compound Paisley Park. I like to think that it was finally time for Prince to follow his own lyrical advice and ‘punch a higher floor’.
With the passing of so many great music talents in this still young year of 2016, I’m beginning to think that a portal to a new glorious plane of existence has opened and that they’ve been sent up to get it ready for all the beautiful ones. Hopefully you and me will be included when it’s time.