I’m not going to pretend I was a massive Prince fan. I liked most of his 80s output, but I don’t own all of his albums. I don’t have loads of his songs on my iTunes. In fact, there’s just one song of his in there: Money Don’t Matter 2 Night. Of course, I’m listening to it now. I really don’t know much of his material post Lovesexy (1988). But, with his death, confirmed a short time ago, I’m remembering the ways Prince affected my life.
I remember that road trip with my friend John. The night when we ended up in Flagstaff, Arizona. We sat in a local bar, enjoying some fine, cheap tap beer, when John put the aforementioned Prince tune on the jukebox. He said he thought it was one of Prince’s best songs. I agree.
I remember my art school pal Eric. He was a massive Prince fan. He dressed like Prince. Did his hair like Prince. He did drawings and paintings of eyes like the ones in the When Doves Cry poster. He even made a little clown puppet like the one in the movie Purple Rain (1984). I’ve long since lost touch with Eric, but I’m thinking of him today.
I remember snickering at the rubes in the St. Paul nightclubs (the cool kids hung out at the Minneapolis clubs) attempting to dance to Erotic City.
I remember not snickering while watching strippers dance to the same song.
I remember my friends John and Dave attempting to figure out what those lines were in the song Kiss. Prince would shriek, “Ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with.” John and Dave would sing, “Ain’t no particular sign I’m mo compact taboh weem.”
I remember hearing the album Around the World in a Day for the first time at one of the many art school parties I attended. I remember liking it.
I remember the time I was in charge of putting the music together for the official Halloween party at art school my second year. I painstakingly compiled students’ song requests into a massive reel-to-reel mix tape. I had a rule: One song per artist and I stuck to that rule; much to the disappointment of the crowd dancing to I Would Die 4 U when it didn’t continue onto Baby I’m a Star. I can still hear the groans.
I remember thinking, “This isn’t going to end soon,” when Prince’s protege band The Family played a full concert at the legendary Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue & the 7th Street Entry on a Tuesday night. A Club Degenerate night! It was said Prince was there that night, but I didn’t see him.
I remember fellow art school student Duane always seemingly in the loop whenever Prince would play an impromptu show at First Avenue. I also remember Duane never letting me know about it until the next day.
I remember one group of us doing impressions of the cooing baby at the end of the song Delirious. And a different group of us doing impressions of Prince throwing up. “Owoowaaaaaaalllhhh!” We had a weird sense of humor.
I remember seeing Prince on the Midnight Special. He was introduced by members of Dr. Hook. One of them said that Prince played every instrument on his songs. I don’t remember what song he played.
I remember scoffing at the people showing up at First Avenue to audition to be extras in Purple Rain. I remember thinking they looked like such poseurs. I hadn’t even been to First Avenue yet and I was already a snob.
And I remember the first time I ever saw or heard of Prince. It was a music video show. I was watching it with my high school buddy, Greg. Greg and I sat dumbfounded as we watched this Prince guy performing…I forget which song it was…in the outfit he wears on the cover of Dirty Mind: A trench coat, black bikini briefs, thigh-high stockings, boots, and nothing else. It was an eye-opener to say the least.
I’m sure there are plenty of moments I’ve forgotten. These are the memories that occur to me now. I may not have been the biggest fan. I may only have one of his songs on my iTunes. But I respected Prince as an artist.
With him gone, far too soon, a little part of that connection to my youth has been severed. And I’m feeling older today.
Correction notice: I had the song order of I Would Die 4 U and Baby I’m A Star wrong. I have made that correction (4/25/16).