Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Prince RIP

Prince RIP @bluesandsoul.com
Prince RIP @bluesandsoul.com Prince RIP @bluesandsoul.com Prince RIP @bluesandsoul.com Prince RIP

I really cannot believe I am actually writing an obituary for Prince who has died at 57-years-old. In total shock, as the world is. The same feeling as when we lost Jacko and Whitney, but even more so I have to say.

Where does one start when writing an obituary and tribute to this giant of a man, but tiny in stature? How can one catalogue all he has done, all he has achieved and try to sum up his life and career in a few paragraphs? Impossible.

As a night club DJ in Leicester in the late 1970s, playing the US import 12 inch of his debut single "I Wanna Be Your Lover", I marvelled at this wondrous new sound that sat on the foundations of soul and funk, but took those specialist genres into the mainstream pop world. I set out to learn all about this amazing multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. A fan from that day. He was head and shoulders above most of his contemporaries in the music world, as an artist and as a songwriter. The first black artist to be played on MTV in the 1980s.

2016 has claimed a clutch of stars, with David Bowie a recent casualty of course, and now the loss of The Purple One is gonna hurt for a long time for many around the world. A total original. A true one-off. “Genius,” is bandied about too often but in his case; totally justified.

Police were called to his sprawling Paisley Park recording studio complex in Prince’s home city of Minnesota, Minneapolis at 9.30am on Thursday morning (21st April) with the report of a male down and not breathing, and the 911 dispatch operative was told that CPR had started.

Prince had cancelled a show on the 7th April through ill health, blamed on the flu virus, but he did appear for two shows at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia with two different set lists for each show on 15th April. But he was reported to have been taken ill on his private jet on the way home from those shows, and had to land in Illinois and be taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance. He was treated and released a few hours later.

The staggeringly sad news of his death broken around 5.45pm on Thursday 21st April by US showbiz website TMZ, who said they had sources close to the star, confirmed by his publicist a little later. Many thought it was yet another sick celebrity death internet hoax, but sadly it was true.

His UK publicist, Anna Meacham, issued a statement to confirm the icons death. "It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57. There are no further details as to the cause of death at this time."

The Carver County Sheriff's Office announced that an investigation was under way on Thursday morning. They said the identity of the deceased was withheld until next of kin had been told.

Prince was self-taught and produced and composed his own music. His hits are too numerous to list, which include Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette and When Doves Cry, and he had sold an estimated 150 million records. His timeless albums 1999 and Purple Rain still sell today. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

He won seven Grammy Awards and many more accolades for his prolific creative output across a four decade career. He had that well publicised spat with his then record label and refused to make any more music for them, appearing at an event with the word SLAVE written on his face, and then refused to use the name Prince anymore, using a strange symbol instead of words, the media bizarrely calling him: “The artist formerly known as Prince.”

His latest album HITnRUN: Phase Two came out in December last year. He had recently been doing shows in the US and Canada, with just him and a piano and microphone on stage. Similar shows were lined up for the UK but cancelled a few weeks ago.

It was understood he was currently writing his autobiography, to be published next year.

Prince was an ambassador of black pop music, and his song-writing seeps into many other genres of music, with countless covers of his amazing work from the likes of Sinead O’Connor to Chaka Khan. He was a mysterious and eccentric figure, rarely gave interviews and if he ever did; demanded that journalists not tape his words or use notes. He was ruthless when it came to protecting his work and copyright, and had a team trawling the internet daily and removing illegal use of his music, including unlicensed cover versions and live performances of his songs on You Tube. His concerts had strict no camera and no mobile phone use, and those abusing that rule would be removed by his security and ejected from the venue.

Stars from around the world were fast to pay tribute to Prince on social media and to media source. Chaka Khan who had a smash hit with the Prince song “I Feel For You,” said: “LOVED him, the world LOVED him. Now he's at peace with his Father. Rest in power, @Prince, my brother.”

Actor Samuel L Jackson said: “I'm Crushed!! UK news reporting Prince Is Dead?! For Real?! Massive Loss for us all! What a Genius! Speechless”. Film maker Spike Lee: “I Miss My Brother. Prince Was A Funny Cat. Great Sense Of Humour”. Actress Whoopi Goldberg tweeted: "This is what it sounds like when doves cry. Prince R.I.P. Condolences to his family & 2 us all". Singer and ex-Culture Club star Boy George said: "Today is the worst day ever. Prince R.I.P I am crying!". Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson paid tribute to Prince's diverse talents, saying "musically, he could do it all: sing, play, arrange and produce." Comedian Chris Rock posted "Say it ain't so". Singer Jennifer Lopez: "Shocked and soooo sad!! #RIP PRINCE #music #legend #GoneTooSoon". Quincy Jones: “Rip to prince a true artist in every sense of the word. Gone way too soon.”

Apart from being a remarkable singer, performer, songwriter, producer and successful businessman, Prince was one of the best guitarists on the planet. Fellow axe man, Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood said he will miss “a good friend who was so talented.” Rev. Jesse Jackson praised Prince for fighting for the freedom of artists and for himself.

All of us at Blues & Soul magazine thank Prince Rogers Nelson for the joy he gave to billions around the planet with his "never the same twice," incredible music, and we send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and those who worked with him. At least his music will live on forever. Doves are crying tonight…
Words SIMON REDLEY

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