I have been a fan of Prince since I first heard "1999" but it was "When Doves Cry" that really caught me up in the mysterious, enigmatic, spiritual, sexual, incredible musical world of a genius. I sought every vinyl record I could at music fairs, music shops and rare collectors advertised in the music mags. My collection is vast, from singles, 12", albums, picture discs, even the protege artists such as Sheila E and The Time. I wanted everything to do with this magical world Prince created. Of course, my CD collection even dwarfs my vinyl collection now!
For years I had heard the abuse, "that gay midget", "that weird fella with the black moustache", "he sings like a girl", "he's overrated", "perverted", "he only did one good song" etc. Everything he did, however I thought a little strange I backed, I explained away and gave reasons why he did certain things. He was original, he didn't care what anyone thought, from the early days of wearing a thong, raincoat and leg warmers, to bringing a big bodyguard to The Brits. From writing Slave across his face to interviews where he did not speak. This was all part of the enigma, in later years, what the fans knew all along, the world figured out he had a wicked sense of humour and tested boundaries, and patience of world society and how they perceive things. That he now gets the recognition of being a genius is a little annoying as it was whispered by few while he was alive, as I spent years telling people this to no avail! Of course, there will be critics who slammed him who will now say "we loved him really", but that is evident of all music stars that have sadly passed.
As I stated in a previous blog of New Music Ear, at the concert in Maine Road, Manchester he had all the stadium singing "sexy muthafucker shakin that ass, shakin that ass" and then a few minutes later "love is God, God is love, all the world love God above". Bear in mind this was a cross section of people, I, myself, am not religious, but there was something very spiritual going on. I may not have agreed with his choices of religion but God had a new meaning, it was like believing in yourself, being positive and being who you want to be no matter what obstacles are in your way.
Prince WAS the music, you can argue that Michael Jackson excelled in dance, Madonna excelled in re-invention, Bowie excelled in androgynous personas, Hendrix excelled as a guitarist, and James Brown excelled in showmanship. That Prince excelled in all of these together and played almost every instrument you can think of, as well as producing, mixing, singing high as Mariah Carey or low as Barry White, writing hits for others, and bringing people together as a family of all races and religious beliefs.
I remember my mum crying when she was told Elvis Presley died, she was a total mess for a few hours that day. I couldn't understand why, she did not know Elvis, yes she adored him, she had all his records and he made her happy. So why did she cry like someone close had died?
When Prince died, maybe it was a combination of things for me that day. The previous day my wife and I went to my mum and dad's grave and laid flowers. Ironically, they married on Prince's birthday, 7th June, 1958. Watching the news and everybody talking about him, didn't seem real. I was waiting for someone to say, or even Prince to say, "gotcha, just checking you all remember me!". Would be a sick joke but it was that kind of weird feeling. Althought Prince wasn't supposedly in the charts or at the "top" of the music world, I loved waiting in anticipation for every new album. Even though I have hundreds of songs to last me years and years to listen to, the realisation that there would be nothing "new" anymore hit me. I'm not ashamed I let a few tears go. Like my mum before, I did not know him, it felt like a distant friend had passed on. Something wasn't right for a few days after, it didn't sink in. All the tributes from around the world was like at the end of Purple Rain The Movie, when finally...the world gets it. The world gets Prince...too late.
It took a while but I got to celebrating Prince instead of mourning. I have so much to remember him by, I bought a lot of the Tribute magazines, I still have the music, I still have the concert programmes. Now I'm listening to every Prince song in a new light, like its my first time, and realising just how good those songs were, however experimental or non-radio friendly. The videos make me chuckle at times, and I realise how much fun he must have been having, the cheeky sexy flirts with the girls and somewhat provocative dancing, I remember the uproar they caused at the time. But that's Prince, he knew how to tease the public, provoke a response and then he just played his music how he wanted to, however he felt at the time. Funk, Soul, RnB, Rock, Pop, Ballads, Anthems, Guitar solos, Piano concertos, whatever he fancied turning his hand to, he did it with style.
All this tribute I have mentioned in print, only two songs. That is the measure of the man, he was a personality, an idol, an icon, an enigma, a teacher, a mentor, a genius of all trades. He did amazing charity work, its said some concerts were secretly charity gigs, where he would just give the takings away to help others. He made people smile, he gave hope, he taught spirituality in his own way, he also gave positivity when maybe there seemed no hope.
I could have spent all this tribute mentioning great songs, there are so many, I just wanted to give my personal account of my thoughts of Prince, the enigmatic genius. You will all have seen the videos and songs many times over the last month, if you haven't, where have you been? There will never be another like him, I hope one day to see the famous Vault recordings released to prolong the fantastic repertoire of a musical phenomenon. The man is gone, the legacy continues, he will never be forgotten. Thanks Prince, you taught me a lot about life, perception, originality, positivity and sex!, got me through some tough times, made me laugh, made me cry, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Hope things are not much harder in the afterlife, hope you're having a blast, you showed us a purple rain and a sign of the times, when you died the doves cried, you told us in April it sometimes snows, you were a genius, and now the world finally knows.
R.I.P. PRINCE ROGERS NELSON JUNE 7, 1958 - APRIL 21, 2016
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