Prince's passing reverberates throughout the core of lives worldwide

MauriceW's picture

Reflections and local Cambridge record store reactions to Prince's death

Maurice Wilkey for neighbor media and CCTV. Today's story will be about Prince who passed away April 21, 2016. Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson his real name is Prince for those people who do not know who was born in the Minneapolis area of Minnesota and he passed away at the age of 57. Prince's contributions to music are so numerous according to the New York Times’ obituary of Prince, which is what he went by - in addition to The Artist Formerly Known as Prince - gained numerous Grammys and an Academy Award for the soundtrack from Purple Rain, a Golden Globe Award and world wide acceptance as one of the best guitarist of his generation. Heavily influenced by people like James Brown rhythmically and Jimi Hendrix expressively, Prince was a hybrid and a unique artist unto his own. He influenced many future generations to come. It was said by Prince in an interview that as early as age 12 he was aware of music's impact and influence on his life and decided to make it his life's work. The numerous hits prove that he was absolutely correct. Touring all over the world with his signature purple color influence he left a royal impact in the music industry. During the 1980s it was the trio of Prince, Michael Jackson and Madonna leaving their mark on the music industry along with its new video emerging platform. As a DJ myself, Prince was always a part of my eighties repertoire and I would be lost without it at any party or large club gathering. 

Prince was also noted for his unique dress and attire. He definitely created a fashion sense for people who listened to music especially in communities of color where the standard was not always allowing flamboyance. He made it cool to wear ruffled shirts, like guitar oriented rock and be a bit more alternative. He also opened the floodgates for numerous musicians such as Meshell Ndegeocello, Jody Watley, Lenny Kravitz, The Deele and numerous others to follow him. Prince started out as a more late 1970s dance/disco oriented love smooth crooner. But after a while, his sort of 'punk at The Establishment rocker-ship' came through. It would be amazing. Songs like Controversy let's get pretend we're married, DMSR and of course the New Year's Eve Anthem 1999 took hold of audiences like no other artist. To the 1980’s into the 1990’s, Prince established himself as a creator and a producer working with numerous alternative rock artists as well as being covered by numerous artists. He was constantly paired in romantic relationships. Prince would write and produce music for movie soundtracks such as Batman and would go on to collaborate and discover new artists, have  a few movies under his belt - though music was his overall true passion. Prince's music always seemed to have a spiritual element infused in it as well. Perhaps that is why he connected so much much with people because at their core they were believers in his spiritual music message as well. 

Over the almost four decades of music which have transpired since Prince first landed in 1978, there are numerous changes in the way music is produced and experienced. Music has gone from vinyl records to compact discs to MP3s and now streaming online services like Spotify, Tidal and Apple music. Throughout those decades and throughout those changes, Prince still managed to, in this writer's opinion, maintain his musical integrity. He even went so far as to get the the masters of his music back into his possession - a feat very few musicians ever get a chance to do. And, he has full say or at least most of it, in his own career. Artistically, he has influenced numerous artists to tap into that which they would not always do for the sake of sales. The feeling being that if Prince can actually wear high heels, as he was known to do, or have a guitar-shaped in a very odd way or dance on stage and gyrate and sing about topics that are not always talked about or use double entendres in a really poetic way, then why can't we all". In our fashion-sense manufactured-style-oriented world, Prince managed to stand out even among the cutting edge and still stay relevant today. The question remains now where do we go from here musically? Prince's music was played on numerous stations nationwide online terrestrially the tribute gestures ranged from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Empire State Building to Boston’s own South Station and many more too such as Niagara Falls all draped in purple lighting.

Those were all nice gestures indicating we will truly miss his artistry and him the person, but where do we go musically from here? I sat in my studio and played music from his numerous albums - up to 30 plus and still counting - reminiscing and mixing just trying to get the full cathartic emotion out of me that the person who created all these things is no longer physically here. Many fans of his did the very same thing.  We got together at Prince parties, Prince listening sessions, viewed previous movies or previous videos on YouTube.  It was just fans was to still have that last essence of Prince, even if he wasn't still around. The theaters such as AMC theaters are showed Purple Rain for those of you who still needed more of a last glimpse of him on the big screen. But we're still left with an emptiness and wondering how do we deal with life after this person has left the Earth physically. Will musicians take up the mantle and push the music forward? People during the era of musicians such as Jimi Hendrix wondered what would happen after he departed Earth, then Prince came along and he left his mark.  And now unfortunately sadly Prince has left the Earth. Who will be the next person to take music forward. In a conversation I had with a friend of mine was also a fellow DJ the list includes people like Esperanza Spalding and some other newer artists such as Robert Glasper, who will possibly push music in that Jazzy Rock Funk style that Prince was known for. I can only hope so.

In conclusion, Prince was an artist like no other. People can sometimes throw around the word icon, but I believe in the case of Prince it applies. The definition of an icon is a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something. I believe that Prince represented good music, good artistry uncompromising artistry for the most part, lyrical content, pushing the boundaries of sound design and music in terms of beats and bass. He did not allow himself to be defined solely a rhythm and blues artist or rock artist or an alternative artist, but simply an musician or artist. It's no wonder that he called himself the artist formerly known as while dealing with his former record company Warner Brothers records, it is no wonder he chose a symbol that was a mixture and hybrid of both male and female emotions because he tapped into both of those for his artistry. So, the fact that he was an icon for nearly almost four decades and had the majority of good favor from numerous different audiences, assures the fact he is probably regarded as an icon. It is said Prince remained loyal and true to his home state of Minnesota. He created Paisley Park Studios recording studio in his home. And, It is believed that there is more music that audiences have not and probably unfortunately never will hear versus what they've already enjoyed. I'm not sure about that, but I would love to hear some of the things he thought that maybe audiences weren't ready for. We can only hope that that actually occurs. 

Earlier in my article I listed the fact that everybody will be searching to find out who might be the next person to be the next Prince in their lifetime. Perhaps I was wrong to ask for that question selfishly of course. There will not be another Prince. Artists like Prince, Beatles, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin occur once in a lifetime.  They are true artists and we are thankful and are all the better for them leaving their legacy of their artistry.  We should not look for the next replica even though all we want is to merely fix our hearts desire to fill a musical void. My last thought is it's only fitting that this true artist had a favorite color of purple because it is so unique a color, it is a color signifying royalty.

Purple represents many different things too many different people. I must admit these last few days the actual color purple stood out to me more so than it probably has in quite some time, if ever. So I wish Prince a peaceful journey into the ‘Afterlife’ the  other world as he put it in his song of Let's Go Crazy. And as we human beings who are left behind go a little crazy trying to figure out the suddenness of his death, he would want us to - in my opinion - listen to his music enjoy it and go make our own artistry,  find our own voice so we could be the Prince in our own lives and make sure that musical artistry continues within all of us. Rest in peace Prince and thank you for the many musical memories.

I took it upon myself to interview to people related to the music sales industry. Allen, the owner of Cheapo Records in Central Square Cambridge and Jennifer, an employee of Newbury Comics in Harvard Square, Cambridge. They were kind enough to share their insights working in music stores after Prince’s untimely passing.

Here is a mix link of Prince favorites assembled together: https://www.mixcloud.com/DJMojavi/prince-nothingcompares2u-tribute-mix-ripprince-whendovescry/