Biff Bam Pop Remembers Prince
Andy Burns (reprinted from SiriusXM Canada):
Prince was an icon.
He was one of the greatest performers in the history of popular music.
Prince has passed away at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Few musicians were able to straddle the line between pop artist and rock musician as the man born Prince Rogers Nelson, but with his incredible songwriting skills and unparalleled guitar chops, Prince was a diverse entity who kicked against the pricks and made music how he wanted, on his own terms, often to the detriment of his own record sales and popularity.
After ruling the 80s with songs like Little Red Corvette, Purple Reign, Let’s Go Crazy and U Got The Look (to name a scant few), the 90s found him changing his name to a symbol and writing slave on his face, as he rallied against his record label.
From a commercial and artistic perspective, Prince made a huge comeback in the 2000s with albums like Musciology and 3121, along with an incredible performance at the Super Bowl, cementing a legacy that few ever questioned.
Rest in peace, Prince.
Glenn Walker: This is devastating. Everyone has those artists who they love, that whenever they come out with an album or any project, you simply, blindly, faithfully just buy without having heard it – because you know it’s going to be great. This year, barely five months in, I have lost two of them. David Bowie, and now Prince. It’s no longer a joke or a meme, 2016 has truly been a soul crusher for music.
I first discovered Prince waaay back in late 1981 or early 1982, the first time I heard the song “Controversy,” on WYSP in Philadelphia, a mainstream rock station. That’s one of the things I loved about Prince, he crossed genres. To look at him, an African-American male with R&B airplay in his past getting time on a station that regularly pumped out AC/DC and Yes made an impression on me. Prince was something special.
I further explored his work by buying that album, loving it, and Dirty Mind, the one before it, and the two lesser liked ones that preceded them. Just because I didn’t dig them as much, doesn’t mean there weren’t gems in there, or that I didn’t respect the genius there. Anyway, by the time everyone else caught up when 1999 came out, I was already a life long fan. It may be hard for kids today to appreciate, but I played those cassettes so much, I wore them out, and had to buy new ones.
With each album, each fashion, each incarnation, and transformation (something else that Prince had in common with Bowie) I followed. I loved the man, I loved his music, his videos, his movies, his smirk, his sense of humor, his defiance. The man was fierce, and a fiery performer.
I’m still numb. I don’t know what else to say. I love you, man. And I miss you already.
Less Lee Moore: Like a lot of kids my age, I was super into Prince in the 1980s. His videos were constantly on MTV and his songs were always on the radio. When Purple Rain came out, it was a big deal. I remember going to my friend Michelle’s house and listening to it, along with 1999, over and over. At the time, I was super into Adam Ant, another sexually provocative pop star, so adding a Prince poster to my bedroom wall was just the natural next step for a Catholic teenager.
Like Michael Jackson, Prince was universal. Everyone loved Prince, no matter your race, gender, what kind of music you were into, or what neighborhood you lived in. “When Doves Cry” was huge. My friend Kerry and I played it on the jukebox at the local bowling alley and took turns singing the lyrics one Friday night and I still think about it whenever I hear the song (which is probably upwards of a thousand times by now).
Prince was an omnivorous musical spirit, much like David Bowie, and it seems tragically fitting that they should both die in the same year. Prince explored multiple genres of music, often within the same album or song. He could play nearly any instrument. His voice was impeccable and his guitar skills were vastly underrated. He acted in movies. He scored movies, too. He crossed boundaries, both musical and sexual. He was truly unique in such a way that it seems impossible to imagine anyone else achieving that kind of status again.
Like a lot of people my age, my Prince interest waxed and waned over the years even as he became more prolific and experimental. He was one of those artists who I always wanted to hear more of, although with a discography as extensive as his, that quest was one that seemed impossible. Now it seems like an urgent one.
I certainly wouldn’t claim to be a Prince superfan – I leave that to some friends of mine who I know are hurting today – but I can’t imagine my musical fandom, or musical history for that matter, without him. Sure, he was flawed, but which one of us isn’t?
57 is way too young to die, but really, who is ever “old enough” to die? May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Luke Sneyd: What is the world coming to when hearing “Little Red Corvette” makes you cry? Prince was one of the absolute greats, so gifted with genius as to make the word “talented” meaningless. I’m sitting here stunned. The Purple One was only fifty-seven! Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal tweeted that he’s “starting to suspect that George R.R. Martin is the author behind 2016.” It’s unbelievable really. To lose legends like David Bowie and Prince within months of each other seems like something that could only be conjured by the cruelest omnipotent author. On a personal note, I’ve broken up with 2016 and I’m totally ghosting the rest of the year. My girlfriend and I both just lost our fathers in the space of two months. Prince, Bowie, Gil Scott-Heron, this year is an assassin bent on clearing the board. Leonard Cohen, please get yourself into a panic room and don’t come out.
I played the shit out of Prince records growing up. Purple Rain was such a seminally brilliant work. That and Sign o’ the Times were such headphones staples for me. His supercharged melodies and hyper-sexed screeches burned pathways from my ears all through my adolescent brain. He could play anything, with complete mastery. Guitar, piano, drums. His voice was a signature chameleon, with many different personae and sounds, but always definitively Prince. He was so fucking smart, with lyrics that could be soulful (“Purple Rain”) or transgressive (“Controversy”) or unabashedly fun and hilarious (“Starfish and Coffee”). I can’t even think how many times I’ve bopped across a wedding reception floor to the strains of “Kiss”. And he wanted to shake you up, with a transgressive androgyny that was still wildly hetero. He was just this unstoppable sex alien you could never quite wrap your head around. He was undoubtedly the single greatest performer of the modern era. I only saw him once, but it was one of the very best shows I’ve ever seen. Total command.
Now he’s gone to the great “Housequake” in the sky. At least we’ll always have his incredible music, while he hits on God. Whoever you’re doing now, Prince, funk in peace.
P.S. Who am I kidding? God’s hitting on Prince.
JP Fallavollita: It’s a tough year to be a music lover. Look, Prince wasn’t really my scene. When I first started listening to music it was Seven and the Ragged Tiger then The Joshua Tree and then neck deep in all things Brit Pop. I never came out of those English waters.
But one of the first cassette tapes I ever owned was Purple Rain and one of the first vinyls that I purposefully went out to buy was the Batman film soundtrack.
Prince may not have been my scene, but his songs were pervasive in my musical world. His talent was undeniable and all-encompassing. From rock to pop-rock to folk-rock. From northern soul to Motown to the blues. No matter what I listened to, Prince was always omnipresent. His persona, always omnipotent. Prince, the ostentatious symbol. Prince, the outrageous musician. Prince, the mercurial man.
Prince, always, as cool as fuck.
And his revolution will always live on.