Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958-2016
This is something a little different than I’ve ever done, but today has been an extremely emotional one for me.
I discovered Prince when I was around seven years old. I remember hearing 1999 on the radio and seeing its video on MTV and instantly calling it my favorite song, and I even had a Hot Wheels Little Red Corvette that was one of my favorites mainly due to the song of the same name.
In 1984, I was in a new school in a new town. The only way I managed to make friends in my fourth grade class was by joining “The Purple Rain Club”, which was basically a few kids who sat under a table during recess and talked about a movie that none of had actually seen because we weren’t old enough. I didn’t see the movie until a few years later, but I wore out that LP (and 1999) in the meantime.
In the ensuing years, there were only two musicians that I appreciated as much as an adult as I did when I was a child, and Prince was one of them. I can’t even begin to tell you how many friendships were strengthened because of his music. In high school, I tracked down bootlegged copies of every Prince song I could find, including remixes and live stuff, and dreamed of acquiring a copy of The Black Album, which was like the Holy Grail. I watched Purple Rain and Under the Cherry Moon all the time.
I even saw Graffiti Bridge in the theater. On opening night.
I missed a lot of the stuff that came out in the mid to late ’90s and early 2000s, but I rekindled my purple flame with Musicology and 3121, which led me to tracking down all the stuff I missed in the dark years (a feat much easier with the internet than it was when I was tape trading back in my high school years.) Whether he was the musical guest on SNL, or guesting on “New Girl”, or killing it at the Super Bowl halftime show in the pouring rain, I was sure to tune in.
I’m not one to generally get too terribly upset at celebrity deaths. I feel saddened for a bit when someone I respect passes on, but as I didn’t know them personally, that moment tends to be fleeting. This year, there have been two that floored me. There’s some people you just can’t fathom are mortal when it all comes down to it, and we’ve lost two of them this year. I didn’t imagine after Bowie that there could be anyone who could possibly affect me more. Even when I heard about him falling ill last week after playing in Atlanta, I never even considered his death a possibility.
At this moment, the second to last song I’ve seen played live was “Save a Prayer,” which Duran Duran dedicated to Prince after playing in town just a day later. Today, that performance means so much more than it did less than a week ago.
Farewell, O man with many names. Whether you were The Artist formerly known as Prince, O(+>, The Artist, Alexander Nevermind, Christopher Tracy, Kid, Joey Coco, Camille, or just plain Prince, you will always be an important part of my life, even in death.