Prince provided the soundtrack of my life for three decades: nights of dancing, clubbing, lovemaking. . .and days driving around with the windows down and the volume cranked.
Prince, like Bowie, pushed the edges of pop, rock, soul and funk music into a new dimension–exploring, experimenting, reinventing–and always entertaining us with his incredible talent. He was not only a singer and composer but a multi-instrumentalist, producer, bandleader, film director. . .and launched or supported many other music careers, including Wendy & Lisa, Sinead O’Connor, Sheila E, Cyndi Lauper, and The Bangles.
“As with so many visionary artists, there was a period in Prince’s career–almost all of the 1980’s–when he seemed able to look around corners, when his music seemed to live in the future, and then assemble that future around us.” (Joe Levy, Rolling Stone, 5/4/16)
With his sexy vocal range, rainbow of fabulous fashion creations, genderbending looks, and musical genius, Prince Rogers Nelson came into the national spotlight in 1979 with his second album, “Prince,” which went platinum (“I Wanna Be Your Lover” was a big dance hit).
I was an English teacher living in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota (northwest of the Mini Apple), when I first heard “When Doves Cry” on the car radio. Slow down and turn it up! Then I saw the video on MTV. Prince’s persona and music just blew me away. Purple Rain came out in June of 1984, the summer I decided to move from rural Minnesota to urban New Jersey to go to graduate school and to come out of the closet. Prince’s creativity and his courage and ability to be his authentic self inspired me on my own journey of creative and sexual expression. I eventually came out as a lesbian while in grad school, met my partner MaryAnn, and enjoyed dancing to Princely music with her and making our own music with friends for many joyful years.
Some of you younger fans may know his brilliance as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince or (known as the Love symbol). I actually had a dream, maybe ten years or more ago, that I was the one who gave Prince that symbol to use as his name. In the dream I was a special guest at one of his concerts and was dancing with Madonna as performed live onstage. I guess that dream is over now and I will never get to see him perform live, but Prince’s legacy is eternal. And the Love Revolution continues.
Adieu, sweet Prince. “I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain. . . .”
Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)