Thursday April 21st 2016 was a tragic day in many aspects. WWE great Chyna was found dead in her home. A 16 year old girl was murdered in a school bathroom by other teenage girls(WTF???). Prince Rogers Nelson, one of the greatest rock icons of all time died at his Paisley Park estate. All this happening within hours of each other, each event shocking enough to dominate the news cycle. It was the passing of the man called Prince that would stun the world.
My one and only time I got to attend a Prince performance was 1981 at Park West in Chicago. Anyone familiar with the venue knows it’s very intimate, basically a night club. I remember there was a 2 drink minimum. The Dirty Mind album was his latest effort and the band was touring to promote it. We had seats on the main floor maybe 30-40 feet from the stage. Prince came out dressed in the trench coat, boots and manties he wore on the album cover. His band was pre-revolution with Dez, Dr. Fink, Andre, Bobby Z and Lisa, no Wendy just yet. I don’t remember how long they played but I do remember being blown away by this guy who we thought was maybe just a gimmick and knowing that we had been in the presence of greatness. From that point on I bought all of his albums and was a fan for life. Two years later, Purple Rain hit and the rest as they say is history.
The untimely deaths of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston really didn’t surprise me that much. Both their lives had been in a downward spiral to some degree so when the news came I was saddened but not shocked. The Prince thing really caught me off guard. I imagined him being a funky old man like George Clinton making music for years to come and popping up at award shows. Losing him this soon really was a shot to the gut.
At one point Prince to my dismay decided to no longer do his classic songs in concert. His new religion forbid him from using the four letter words that he so cleverly wove into his magical lyrics. I never gave the new material much thought but now I plan on giving it a second chance. Partly because there will be no more forthcoming, and partly because now I’ll listen with a different mindset. The man was constantly cranking out work which was one of the things I admired most about him. He was unafraid of failure. If a record bombed, no biggie here’s some more stuff. And some more stuff. I love that. I wish that I was able to have that drive in my own life.