IT’S BEEN a horrible year, re: the number of artists that have died so far in 2016.
Yesterday, Prince died, only 57 years old. If you live in the Minneapolis area – anywhere in Minnesota, really, this one hits especially hard. When I told friends in 1994 that I was moving to the Twin Cities the first thing everyone mentioned was Prince: “You going to go to Paisley Park or First Avenue and see Prince?” Every friend and acquaintance said something along these lines. If you were in high school in the 80’s Prince was second to only Michael Jackson in terms of sales and influence – except for here in the Twin Cities where he was second to nobody. No one put this area in the minds of non-residents more than he did. For a generation of music fans – didn’t matter if it was pop, R&B or rock – he was Minneapolis – St. Paul.
The first four years I lived here I drove by Paisley Park every Tuesday morning on the way to see an account. Every time I would wonder what it was like to see Prince there at one of his legendary parties/concerts at his famed studio complex. Though I never did and missed some opportunities to do add so.
I know so many people who had a story about seeing Prince out and about the area. At a Minnesota Timberwolves game…at a mall…at a Dairy Queen. A public Prince sighting was always news and even when he mostly lived outside of Minnesota he was still here, still a presence, still home.
I saw Prince out and about at First Avenue in 1995 or 96, at a Terence Trent D’Arcy show. On more than one occasion I’d find out after being at First Avenue for a show that Prince was also there, too.
Regrettably, I only saw The Purple One once in concert, July 7, 2007 when he played Target Center, part of the shows in one day in Minneapolis. Though I was at the top of the arena with an obstructed view it was an incredible show.
I was always a Prince fan, always curious about his latest music and was in awe of his guitar skills. I think a lot of people either didn’t realize or forgot that he was a truly incredible guitar player until they saw his incendiary halftime performance at the Super Bowl in 2007. Simply jaw-dropping. He should be recognized as a guitar hero, he could play any style, his solos gave you chills, and his rhythm work made you move your ass. The fact that every guitar magazine didn’t do a big feature on him every time he dropped a new album is a crime. He was a musical genius.
There’s been an outpouring of celebratory tribute and grieving here in Minneapolis. Outside First Avenue a vigil started forming around 6:00 that turned into an all-nighter as several thousand people came downtown to celebrate a great and influential artist’s life. He was a hometown hero who
and a singular, once-in-a-generation artist, who’s hometown was always a part of him.