Friday, 22 April 2016

Growing up with Prince

People die all the time and it's painful.
Sometimes there are people who touch us deeply who we may never meet.
Those people are called heroes.
Prince was my hero, but more than that he was the person who led me through love and sex and music and identity and style and so much more.  As a teenager I was obsessed by him.

Rewind to 1984 and I am bought a copy of Purple Rain on vinyl, as a gift.
Probably the most life changing gift someone can get for a shy teenager in a small village.
I was a late developer, truth be told, but Purple Rain had it all.  The intensity of being in love. The thrill of sex. It had funk and rock and pop and swagger.
And lyrics that I couldn't play too loud at home.

At this time Prince was a total enigma. He never spoke and often covered his face in public.  It made you want to know more.

After the album came the movie.  Wow.  Talk about formative.
Shy young man struggling to be understood. He gets the girl and the glory.
It was like a roadmap for millions of boys like me, no doubt!

From this point it was complete immersion. I worked backwards. Snapping up all the albums that came before.  My favourite was Controversy.
Pared down funk that veered between all-out smut and world politics.

My obsession never wavered and Prince always delivered.
Around the World in a Day and Parade were stunning and took me in other directions. Jazz, psychedelic, gospel and so much more.
I also feverish consumed everything else Prince-related.
Tracking down related artists like The Time, Sheila E, Vanity 6, The Family...

Even the b-sides beat everyone else hands-down.

That was Prince. Unstoppable. So much talent that it was unleashed in all directions.
When there was a hit record you often had to check if Prince had written it - Manic Monday, Nothing Compares to You, I Feel for You.

Then came Sign Of The Times, The Black Album (discovered as a bootleg in a record market) and Batman.

After this it was a bit hit and miss. But there were always treasures and in recent years there have been some super albums. My favourite The Rainbow Children I was lucky enough to see played live at a small gig at Hammersmith.  My favourite gig of all time.

I saw Prince live so many times. And every time it was an event.
I often saw him with people who were non fans going in.  That changed when they left.

Prince worked hard. So hard.
He played all the instruments.
He produced so much material (39 albums).
And he never compromised.

Most of all he was special and different.
He challenged our notions of gender and he took us on so many musical adventures.

His music was fresh and always surprising and his lyrics "Starfish and coffee, maple syrup and jam..." Were delicious and playful.

It hurts that it ended so soon.

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