Perhaps the most famous picture of the rock/funk legend from Minneapolis; his Purple Rain album cover. Love the bike! Image courtesy of blog.thecurrent.org
BACK IN 2009, I WROTE AN ARTICLE ON THE WEBSITE HubPages.com, PAYING HOMAGE AND TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON ON THE OCCASION OF HIS UNTIMELY DEATH.
MOST UNFORTUNATELY AND TRAGICALLY, IT’S PRINCE’S TURN…
Spring, 1984. Santa Monica, California.
I was in the 11th grade, muddling along as a junior in high school, though I was enjoying playing the baritone saxophone in my school’s jazz ensemble – one of my very few good memories of those days – and like more or less every other teenager very much looking forward to summer.
I was listening to KIIS-FM, the main top 40 station in the Los Angeles area at that time, on the stereo in my living room when all of a sudden a loud guitar riff came blaring from that silver thing.
“What the hell was that?!” I thought, as a keyboard got going with a distinct harmony and a voice started singing something about digging a picture of “…you and I engaged in a kiss…”
Now I knew who the singer, Prince, was all too well as I enjoyed his previous album, 1999, that he had dropped a couple of years before, me liking one song in particular (which I’ll mention in a bit).
He was already a popular star, though not quite on the level of Michael Jackson for reasons that everybody who knows anything about pop music in the 80s or who was there knows.
The song I heard on the stereo, “When Doves Cry”, and subsequent release of his album and movie Purple Rain, proceeded to do what was thought to be pretty much impossible:
Make a serious dent in Michael’s domination if not actually blow him away in the minds of music fans.
Prince rocking out on stage in a scene from “Purple Rain”. Photo courtesy of funkatopia.com
For the next couple of years, through my first year of college, Prince induced an obsession in me; this was particularly the case after I saw Purple Rain in the theaters that summer.
Not only did I think Prince and that motorcycle of his defined cool, I thought Morris Day and his sidekick Jerome Benton, who played his rivals, were absolutely hilarious.
To the point where they nearly stole the movie.
And Apollonia, Prince’s love interest in the film, was – in a word – FINE.
From the day I exited the theater after seeing Purple Rain, all through the 12th grade and into my first year of college, my prevailing thought regarding who I preferred in pop music was “MIchael who?”, as Prince was IT; he and his music was pretty much an obsession of mine.
Even with the flop of a movie that was Under The Cherry Moon that came out in 1986 (like so many others I felt it sucked), I bought and enjoyed the soundtrack.
Over the following years, my attention to Prince waned as my attention shifted to other artists.
I liked quite a few of his songs going forward, but as much as I admired the stand he took against his record company I felt he had gone off the deep end a little bit with changing his name to a symbol.
I never denied Prince’s musical prowess, however, as I was always impressed by his abilities on so many instruments, which he developed as a young kid; Prince was one of the few people in the pop music world where one can safely say…
“This was a real musician.”
Presenting at the 2015 Grammys, wearing orange instead of purple. Photo courtesy of peoplestylewatch.com
So you can imagine the shock and sadness I felt, along with roughly four billion other fans, when I heard of his death at his Paisley Park compound.
I found myself listening to my Purple Rain CD and watching his videos on YouTube, getting reaquainted in a sense.
There were five songs in particular that I thought were superior, that in my opinion are his best.
Here are my top five songs from – along with Bob Dylan – one of Minnesota’s two great contributions ot not only music, but to pop culture and society in general…
5. “Raspberry Beret”, from Around The World In A Day (1985)
Unfortunately, since Prince had such issues regarding his videos and music being available on the internet for free, the video to this song was too difficult for me to find.
Otherwise it would have been featured here.
4. “Thieves In The Temple”, from Graffiti Bridge (1990)
NOTE: Sorry for the lack of a video. Techncial difficulties in trying to load it.
And my all time-favorite song from this man, which is a choice from the heart as if I went with the safe pick, “Little Red Corvette” would have been #1:
I don’t have any purple clothing, but I made sure to wear my Minnesota Twins caps this weekend, including to my pick-up softball game, as a tribute to him and where he was from.
Like Michael, Whitney Houston, and David Bowie before him, it obviously goes without saying that Prince Rogers Nelson will be SO missed.
Which is a most obvious understatement.
I reckon there’s nothing else for me to say except this…
Rest In Peace, Prince. I and about four billion of your closest friends mourn you and will miss you dearly.
And give Michael, Whitney, and David our utmost regards.
Memorials to Prince at Paisley Park, his home/studio complex. I think the rainbow was a sign from God acknowledging the man and what he meant to everyone. Photo courtesy of people.com