RIP Prince

Man, 2016 has been a rough year for musical legends from rock (Bowie), hip hop (Phife Dawg), country (Merle Haggard) and now pop and funk with Prince’s death today. As I’m writing this, I’m watching Purple Rain on MTV, who decided to scrap its regular (and terrible) programming and run videos and movies from one of MTV’s early stars.  The videos and songs from albums like Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Parade, and Sign O’ The Times were part of the soundtrack of my life as a youngster where radio and MTV still were the main ways to consume music for a kid.

I still listen to those classic albums and I’ve picked up a few more of his albums over the years, but I couldn’t keep up with his prolific output.  In 38 years, he put out 39 albums!  Part of that was a rush of albums in the mid-90s to get out of his contractual obligations to Warner Brothers. He also penned songs that became famous for other artists, like I Feel For You by Chaka Khan and Nothing Compares to U by Sinead O’Connor.  Like David Bowie, he also was involved in film, acting in and directing several movies, most famously the aforementioned Purple Rain.

A few other numbers.  1 Academy Award.  7 Grammys (same as Madonna).  4 MTV Music Awards (when that meant something).  5 number 1 singles.  1 of only a handful of Super Bowl halftime performances that people remember. Gaudy numbers for sure that would make most musicians not named MJ jealous.

The man matched his stamina in recording songs with mammoth sets in live shows.  He was at the top of my list of “must-sees” live and I thought I’d have several more times as he’d been touring extensively over the past few years.  From the remembrances of people today who saw him live, the words “special”, “memorable” and “amazing” were common.    He could pull off doing a cover of Radiohead’s Creep like it was nothing (thanks for sharing that Bryan!):

The last thing I’d like to mention is that because he’s so associated with pop music and R&B that it sometimes gets lost that the man was a wizard with the guitar.  Another video that’s been going around today is the 2004 Rock n Roll Hall Fame performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, featuring some other dudes and Prince.

I’d like to think that guitar disappeared to wherever Prince ended up today, waiting for him to pick it up and keep doing his thing.

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