The world, myself included, mourns the passing of Prince Rogers Nelson, the brilliant musician, songwriter, and flamboyant performer, who graced our world with his presence for 57 years. Catching many of us off-guard, we share the same type of shock that came when we heard of other icons who are no long with us; so many in this year alone.
The title says it all. Prince bared his body and soul to the world and his fans through his music. He brought "Controversy" early on in his career. One of his earlier works I heard at a disco included the lyrics to The Lords Prayer. Prince was that kind of edgy talent, who knew how to get people to pay attention and maybe think, be a little more mindful, while having fun along the way.
Many of my generation got to know Prince best when his popular movie, Purple Rain, hit the theaters. If we had not encountered his music before, it then held us spellbound. Taking us to the gritty world of Prince's fictionalized upbringing, the songs in his story related to many who felt they lived their lives at the periphery of society. His audience of fans grew to want the inside scoop behind this musical genius who brought so much vibrancy and funk to the forefront. His musical Purple Rain tour did not disappoint. Prince worked hard to entertain his audience and build a very loyal fan base.
For many of his fans who formed even smaller fan clubs, there was much to be discovered where Prince was concerned because as a musician, he had many unreleased songs. It became a quest of sorts to check who knew what in the days before the Internet took over social media and the sharing of images and files transformed the music scene. The very freedom we enjoy today related to the sharing of various forms of intellectual and copyrighted material had Prince put the brakes on much of the images and videos that contained his music.
Prince became very selective and private about when and where is music was used. He challenged his big label, Warner Bros., over his contract with them and ownership of the master tapes of the music he produced for them. It was during this time that he changed his name to a symbol and became "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" (or TAFKAP, for short), and the many YouTube videos that contained his works began to disappear--regularly. Prince became notorious for "not" letting his music just sit out there being copied in unauthorized ways, or to have videos exist of unacceptable quality. This move of "less" Prince did a lot to maintain his own quality standards, even if it did manage to frustrate his many fans who had gotten on the bandwagon of 'tribute-type' copying. It was not the sincerest form of flattery.
For the many who admired the man, Prince, and who remain such staunch fans, we grew to admire whoever he liked. Fans were treated to his cover versions of music by other songwriters whose work influenced him, like Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, and George Clinton. Over the years, Prince graced us with some interviews with Tavis Smiley, Larry King, and others that were insightful. He gave many other acts the spotlight, and influenced musicianship in many popular performers.
Just when we might think he had mellowed over the years, Prince would come out with a new album and videos that kept the show going. It wasn't all that long ago that Prince did a Superbowl halftime show in a driving rainstorm that kept us all amazed. Top fashion, pretty ladies, and outstanding musicianship with tight hooks were his trademarks. His recent, more intimate concerts featuring Prince and a piano were his way to continue evolving and remaining relevant with what mattered most to many, the music.
Prince is definitely missed on this earthly plane. We are blessed with the entertaining, musical legacy he leaves behind.