Saturday, May 21, 2016

Prince, Music & a Fan

To those who don't really know me you may not know that I am a Prince fan. Those who do know it, probably know it more than they care to. I have been a fan since 1982. I had heard 1999 and Little Red Corvette. (I thought the song was about the car back then). I had the 45's and liked them and the b-sides. Then came Delirious. I heard that single on the radio and my fate was sealed, I became a Prince fan. I knew nothing about the man or even if Prince was his name or the name of the group, I just knew this music was talking to me. I would record my records on to a cassette so I could play them in my Sounddesign boombox. I wore out the 60 minute tape I made with Michael Jackson on one side and Prince on the other. The Prince side received more play and contained the six songs from the three Prince singles I owned. 1999, Little Red Corvette, and Delirious. Plus the b-sides How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore, All The Critics Love You In New York, and Horny Toad.  I didn't know what it was that I was attracted to at the time but something about those songs moved me more than any other songs I had ever heard, and I had heard a lot of songs. My dad had worked in radio and we had a music collection of  about 10,000 records in the house.

Enter the 1999 album. The forth single was released and I loved it too. The b-side was funky. It had great drums and bass that grooved me from the inside. I thought I need to get this album, I like four of the songs on it I bet I will like more.  I remember riding my bike to K-mart where I found the album that cost a bit more than the usual album. It was a double record set! I could not wait to get home and put it on the turntable. The needle hit the record and that slowed down voice came through my headphones. I sat back, read the lyrics along with the songs and checked out the albums art work. 1999 taught me about music. I soon realized songs could be longer than the standard radio play.  1999, Delirious, Let's Pretend Were Married, were exciting as I heard what the radio would never play.  Everything about that album was so cool. The hidden backwards letters on the front cover and gone was the standard record label but in it's place was a close up of Prince's eye and a hole dead center were you would place it on the turntable. But most of all it included the now famous "Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed by Prince". This was one guy and he not only wrote all of this he is playing every instrument! Everything you hear is one guy? This blew my mind.

Enter 1984. I remember driving in the car when they announced a new song by Prince was coming up. When Doves Cry played and I didn't know what to think. It was different. In fact I thought kind of weird sounding. It was like nothing else on the radio and nothing like the 1999 album. They said it was off the soundtrack to Prince's upcoming movie. Soon after the album was released and I sat down, put my headphones on and heard that opening line..."Dearly Beloved..." This album was so different. It rocked. It was missing the funky bass (except on Baby I'm a Star) and gone was the chicken scratching guitars. They were replaced with power cords and roaring solos. Gone was some of the studio tricks and it was replaced with a live band sound. Same guy but a whole different flavor.  I was used to artists keeping with their sound. The cars sounded like the cars every time I heard them.  Being a fan of this guy was going to be fun.

Enter the back catalog.  I then started purchasing all of Prince's older albums. I worked my way backwards and I loved them all. Each album having their own flavor.  I was inspired by the fact he performed all these songs himself.  His guitar playing on Purple Rain, his bass on Let's Work, and his drum programming skills.  Not to mention keyboards and piano. Oh, did I mention he can sing too?
Enter Purple Rain. When I finally saw the movie I was already very familiar with the soundtrack but the story that tied those songs together in the film hit home.  My parents were fighting and I had a very strained relationship with my dad.  I felt like it reflected what I was going through only I didn't play guitar. In the movie Prince's home life was affecting his career and my home life was affecting my school work and me personally.  The song Purple Rain made me nearly cry every time I heard it just because of the opening line. I too never meant to bring anyone sorrow but somehow I seemed to do just that.

Nude Tour Rehearsal May  6, 1990
Over the next years Prince released more and more interesting albums and a couple of movies. I was able to see him live in Minneapolis for a dress rehearsal concert for the Nude Tour. Tickets were ten dollars. I loved buying each new album on the day of release. While my friends waited years in between the releases of their favorite artist I was busy buying his next album, single for the b-side, long play record or something from an associated artist that Prince produced or wrote for. In the days before YouTube I had to set up the VCR to record MTV or Friday night videos to catch the latest video. There was always something going on.

Prince taught me about breaking the rules. Prince found other ways to get music to his fans. Crystal Ball was ordered through the internet. The first thing I ordered online. He made more money going around the traditional record company route.

I was lucky to have had several "Prince" experiences. He opened a club in Minneapolis called Glam Slam. I remember looking at his motorcycle and Purple Rain outfit while music pulsed. Up above was a VIP area and I kept thinking he was going to appear and the DJ would play some new unreleased song. I shopped at his New Power Generation store in Uptown. We were taken to a room upstairs and were shown the unreleased video for Dolphin.  They also brought out Prince's model C guitar. Did I ever want to grab that and run out of the store with it. Prince opened his studio a few times and I was able to tour it. When no one was looking I touched the famous Purple Rain motorcycle sometimes feeling like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. The thing that got me the most was when we were standing in a studio they pointed out his famous Linn drum machine and said that the soundboard was from his house.  I reached out and touched it and was in awe as these were the tools that made the 1999 album and that made me a fan. On one tour a sound engineer asked if anyone knew how to play the drums. I can somewhat but did not want to embarrass myself in front of these professionals so I stayed quiet. All they wanted was for someone to go into the studio and play for a bit so the rest of the tour could hear what it sounded like.  Talk about a missed opportunity. I turned down playing Prince's drums in his studio.
Paisley Park 1990

Over the years I was able to see Prince live three more times. I have seen The Time live. I watched Prince's dad drive past me in his purple BMW. I have had a couple of email exchanges with St. Paul Peterson of The Time & The Family and one with Dr. Matt Fink of the Revolution. So to say his passing affected me is an understatement. It's a weird thing because we never met and our "relationship" was one sided. He had no idea who I was but he was a big part of my life.  He was my soundtrack.

What I am going to miss is getting the new CD on the day it releases. I. Going to miss the live performances. I wish my kids would have seen him live so they knew what real musicians looked like instead of the prerecorded lip sync that goes on today.

Prince has still taught me after his death. His charitable work has come to light a lot in the past month. Although I do not believe I would agree with him politically most of the time I love the fact that he did what he could to help others and didn't spend him time telling us how we were wrong for not thinking like him. I wish more celebrities would follow that example. In fact more of us should put that energy to work in the fashion Prince did maybe just maybe the world will be a better place.
Prince's famous purple house 1990

Prince, you will be missed here but heaven just got a lot funkier.

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