I was absolutely devastated to find out that Prince died in his home this morning. It seems as if lately people have been writing a lot of obituaries and tributes for musicians in the not too distant past, and it’s only April! At the rate we’re going, this is going to be the worst year for musicians since 1970.
As a child of the eighties, I remember hearing Purple Rain on radio or MTV around the time it came out and his career was going supernova. To put it another way, I can’t even think of or remember a time that I didn’t know his name or his music.
He was a stellar performer, musician, songwriter, and producer. Equal parts James Brown and Jimi Hendrix, he was a true musical genius, in a time when that term gets thrown around and overused a lot. Even though he was renown most as a performer, I’m amazed at how underrated as a guitar player he was to most non-musicians. Since the news broke this morning, people have been raving about his performance at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, where he played a killer guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
His influence goes beyond recorded music. Remember, it was his song “Darling Nikki” which got Tipper Gore to start the PMRC, leading ultimately to the creation of the infamous “Parental Advisory” stickers we still see on albums to this day. His body of work wasn’t even limited to himself. He wrote hits for other artists: Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You,” Sheila E’s “The Glamourous Life,” The Bangles’s “Manic Monday,” and Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
He was also a guy who rose to the occasion again and again throughout his career, often on the biggest stages possible for a performer. A few other highlights I want to point out: his show-stealing cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” at Coachella, and his Super Bowl halftime show, which many consider to the best ever.
What an amazing man.
What an amazing musician.
What an amazing body of work.
What an amazing legacy.