"PRINCE – TEACHER, ENIGMA, SUPERSTAR, GENIUS"
In 1984 something changed my perception of music. That something was a single by Prince called “When Doves Cry”. It was a massive hit in the USA and soon became a hit here too. It was a Funk-Pop-Rock-Dance infusion and had no bass line to speak of which made it an unusual hit on the Dance charts as most Dance records did!.
On hearing this, I instantly bought “Purple Rain” and of course became a massive fan of the man. As a 16yr old boy this music (and Madonna) became a teacher of love, sex, faith and non-conformity.
Yes, most of Prince’s lyrics bordered on soft porn but it was all done in a loving way, even the most scandalous songs like “Do Me, Baby”, “Jack U Off” and “My Private Joy” all had a hint of fun and mentioned God saying it was ok to be sexual, sensual and loving.
The man played almost 20 instruments on his first album “For You” in 1978, produced it and sung all the vocals. This was a genius in the making. “When Doves Cry” was the track that started my admiration for the mystery man that was Prince. His brand new song is called “Rock And Roll Love Affair”.
Once this was a man who was shy and almost reluctant to accept the fame and adoration. Down the years he has become an astute businessman and an expert in music business knowledge. He has embraced the internet but now denounces it, he has fought for the right to make records using his own name, he has wrote some of the biggest hits for other artists, he is STILL the ultimate showman and everyone reveres him and is honoured to work alongside him or be likened to him.
Prince is the only artist to be able to cross over to many genres, be it Dance, Funk, Pop, Rock or Jazz. Every song he covers becomes his own, however big the original’s artists. He has some of the most legendary and ground breaking albums in his back catalogue. He was the first artist to mention AIDS in “Sign ‘O’ The Times”. He wanted the right to release a double album every year or at least one a year (his unreleased tracks reach in the hundreds), hence the battle with Warner Bros when he put “slave” across his cheek. Obviously the press just didn’t understand until they got the full facts denouncing him as “potty prince”. The fact is, the guy is a genius and a superstar, there has never and will be never an artist like him ever again. He stands there with Michael Jackson and James Brown and in my opinion is above them as the greatest musician and showman ever.
I have been lucky enough to see Prince live 4 times, an experience that you cannot understand unless you have witnessed the great man at close hand. One such concert was 26th June 1992 on the Diamond and Pearls Tour, at Manchester City Football Club’s old ground of Maine Road. I decided to take along my friend Dave who had never seen Prince before and had only ever seen David Bowie (saying that he was the best live act ever, bear that in mind when I finish my story!). I said to Dave, “you haven’t seen anything yet”.
It was a beautiful sunny day, roasting hot and we were supposed to sit in the stand but before the ground was filling up we went for a walk up in front of the stage and luckily somehow stayed there for the whole show. At first we had to suffer The Pasadenas trying to look cool to Prince fans by swearing a couple of times (it did not help, they were a poor last minute substitution for C&C Music Factory). Dave was excited but I had no idea how he was going to feel afterwards. Once Prince’s dancers Diamond and Pearl were writhing around in front of us and all these girls were grappling at our clothes in an excited frenzy Dave was in his element!.