Those concerts were some of the most amazing nights of my life because every Prince show was a party! After all, he is the guy who sang, “If you didn’t come to party don’t bother knocking on my door.”
I discovered Prince during my sophomore year of high school at the tender and impressionable age of 15. My first experience was listening to the album ‘Dirty Mind’. As a teenager, with hormones raging, I was absolutely blown away by this guy singing so blatantly about sex. His next album ‘Controversy’ soon followed, and I loved that just as much. He was still singing about sex but this time with some religious themes intertwined (even reciting the Lord’s Prayer in the title track).
At this point, Prince wasn’t huge, so I had that proprietary feeling about him. If you’ve ever loved a band or artist that’s sort of underground, you know what I mean. It’s like you’re onto something that no-one else appreciates, so it's yours! Of course, he soon started breaking through – it was only a matter of time – especially when MTV added the videos for ‘1999’ and ‘Little Red Corvette’ to their content. Then ‘Purple Rain’ came out and suddenly the whole world was hip to this little guy from Minneapolis.
The three biggest pop stars of the 80s were Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince. However, I’ve noticed that at my events I play more of the first two than I do Prince – and there’s a distinct reason for that. Michael Jackson and Madonna focused on dance music. Prince dabbled in dance. In fact, he dabbled in every genre of music. Don’t believe me? Name a genre and I can play you a Prince song that will fit. He tried his hand at everything from big band swing to country to reggae to blues to hard rock.
The problem was that the music industry moved too slowly for him. Record labels want their artists to spread their albums out by at least a year. This way they can release multiple singles off an album and promote them vigorously, all whilst the artist tours to support the record. Prince was just too prolific for that. By the time Warner Bothers released one of his albums, he’d already written the next one and was bored with the one just hitting the racks. This is one of the reasons he started so many side projects and protégé bands; he was writing and producing too much music (if that’s even possible).
Of course, all this talk of Prince in the studio overlooks his true genius as a live performer. He is famous for his virtuosity on multiple instruments and that was never more evident than in concert, where he’d switch effortlessly from piano to guitar to bass to drums. And while he was not quite the dancer Michael Jackson was, he was adept enough on his feet to be thoroughly entertaining. Throw in his uncanny timing and sense of humour and his shows were incredible! (Why else would I have seen him 37 times?)
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