Yesterday was one of the saddest days of my adult life.
Yesterday, Prince died.
I can’t even begin to explain in words what he meant to me growing up, so I don’t think i’m even going to attempt it, But I feel that I need to say something as a dedication and tribute to, what was, the finest musician ever to grace this planet.
Firstly, I have to commend Las Vegas for their tributes to Prince yesterday. A majority of the radio stations were playing his songs back to back, Fremont Street added a Prince tribute show to their famous Fremont Street Experience, and a few landmarks changed their lights to purple, including The Venetian hotel, The Palazzo hotel and The High Roller ferris wheel.
Thank you Vegas.
But for me, yesterday was both sad and contemplative.
As I drove home from work, listening to Prince on the radio and crying like a dove as I sang along with “Baby, I’m a star”, I started thinking about all the years I’ve loved his music and everything it has done for me.
One of the best things to have come out of my love for Prince was a friend who I met at college back in the UK. We had a few things in common; we were both a bit nerdy, we both loved video-games, we both owned Commodore Amigas (showing my age now) and we both had a mutual love for Prince’s music.
That said, we were also very different. He loved rock music – something I wouldn’t come to fully appreciate for another 10 years or so – and had enough face and ear piercings to warrant being cautious when walking past a fridge covered in magnets.
But Prince was the glue that held us together. We even started calling each other ‘Cuz’ like Christopher Tracy (played by Prince) and Tricky (played by Jerome Benton) did in the film ‘Under The Cherry Moon’. It was that ingrained in our lives.
In the 90’s, Prince opened a shop in Camden (Which is in London, in case you didn’t know), and my friend and I would visit regularly.
Usually we would drag girlfriends along with us, who were obviously as thrilled as we were to drool over any sort of crap that had the infamous ‘Symbol’ logo on it.
I can’t remember everything I bought from that shop, but I do still have my Tamboracca somewhere in a box labeled ‘Stuff For Las Vegas’.
I wasn’t leaving it behind in the UK.
Over the years I bought every album, bootleg CD, bootleg video (VHS, don’t you know), magazine, book, cassette tape (look it up, kids), tambourine/maraca hybrid and whatever else I could lay my grubby little hands on.
It was an obsession.
Prince was a god amongst musicians and his music connected with me at a level I can’t possibly explain. And this was without the use of any form of opiates or hallucinogens.
In your face, Pink Floyd.
And when I think about it, I can recall the exact moment when I discovered Prince’s music. It wasn’t ‘Purple Rain’, nor ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’. No, my discovery of Prince was the most unlikely of Albums’; it was the ‘Batman’ album.
We were visiting family in Milan (Which is in Italy, in case you didn’t know), and my cousin was playing the Batman album on vinyl. Straight away I asked her who it was.
As soon as we got back to England, I bought it for myself.
Back then I used to buy vinyl and then record it straight onto cassette tape so as to preserve the vinyl, not realising the loss of quality that involved.
I didn’t care. This Prince dude was pretty awesome.
Soon after this, Prince released ‘Graffiti Bridge’ and it was monumentally different from the album I had listened to a thousand times, yet somehow, I still loved it.
What the hell?
This was the moment I realised I’d found something special. Imagine my joy when I discovered there were ten albums before these!
But before I had a chance to go through the back catalogue, he released another album; something Prince did every year!
That next album was Diamonds and Pearls. From that moment on, I was hooked. What an album. Still one of my favourites to this day.
So anyway, back to my story.
As with anything, life got in the way and in 2007 my friend and I went our separate ways. I must admit that I often wondered how he was doing and what life had thrown at him.
Not magnets, hopefully.
So I bit the bullet and contacted one of my Facebook friends who I knew was still in contact with him and asked her if she would forward a message for me.
I wasn’t looking to reconnect or bring up old wounds, I had no hidden agenda or motive, I simply wanted to convey my condolences. Even though we hadn’t spoken for almost 10 years, I wanted to reach out and make sure he was OK.
You see, to us, Prince was our friend. He was the third person in our exclusive friendship. No matter what happened, he was always there, telling us how much he cared.
He was always in our hair.
And yesterday we both lost our friend.
He replied in no time to say he had been thinking of me too and reciprocated my condolences. That was all I needed. He was finding it as hard as I was and I only hope he gained some comfort from knowing he was in my thoughts.
And now, here we are. It’s a day later and I still can’t believe Prince is gone.
No more concerts, no more albums, no more anything.
My only wish now is that Paisley Park makes the decision to release all the music and videos held in Prince’s infamous ‘vault’.
That would be the ultimate gift to the world.
Let us bathe in the Purple Rain, just one more time.
Rest in peace Prince.
Thank you for everything.