By Leighton Ginn
I’ve been touched by some of the things I’ve seen and read. I just wanted to share some things I’ve seen on social media about Prince.
It’s been comforting to know how much we’ve all been touched by him.
Mick Jagger on Prince in Rolling Stone
President Obama in Rolling Stone
John Carlos, 1968 Olympian and activist
Yesterday we lost Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, one of college basketball’s all-time greatest performers and today we lost Prince Rogers Nelson better known as “Prince”, a musical genius and wonderful soul. Washington was the “human highlight reel” before anyone had come up with that moniker. Washington earned the nickname “Pearl” as a youngster, a tribute to NBA great Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. Prince revolutionized the music industry and entertained us for decades. Purple Rain h…as long maintained its status as one of the best albums of all time, and currently sits at number 2 on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of the 80s.
Words cannot express the sadness I feel right now to have lost two special individuals days apart. May the both of you rest in eternal peace. You both will be deeply missed. Below are two quotes I saw online which describe the type of individuals these two were.
“As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader and an electrifying performer.”
– U.S. President, Barack Obama
“He will always be remembered as one of the all-time great players in New York City basketball history. There are so many fond memories that I have of Pearl from our time growing up in Brooklyn and then as Big East rivals, but what stands out most was his genuine and caring nature.”
– Chris Mullin, St. John’s coach
Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN
It’s been a tough day. It wasn’t until hours after the news of Prince’s death that I turned on the radio. I knew it would be tough listening to him. For some reason, this is hitting me harder than MJ’s passing. I heard Purple Rain and started to get a bit emotional because I remember how much he put into that song the times I saw him live. I think about how lucky I was to have seen Prince in 3 concerts and one Super Bowl halftime act — the best to date — and the press confe…rence performance that led up to that where he delivered a surprise mini performance instead of talking to the press. I was mesmerized. I remember buying tix to see him at Continental Airlines Arena and Madison Square Garden on back to back nights and wondering if I was crazy to pay the money to see him twice in a row — something I had never done before. You tend to think about things like, “who can afford to do something so overboard as paying to see him two times in a row, especially since I had already seen him before!” BUT I’m so unbelievably grateful that I did. He was incredible both nights and I got to see Sheila E join him at MSG. He always knew the crowd and city he was performing for and what they liked. When I saw him for the first time in DC, he blew us all away playing a Go-go set and an old school R&B set too. You could really tell he loved to perform for the crowd. What really floored me though was just how insanely genius he was with the guitar. There were times when he seemed to just jam and go away from anything that might’ve been rehearsed for the concert and you could tell he was feeling the crowd. He easily was the best performer I’ve ever seen live of all the concerts I’ve gone too. When Michael Jackson died, I told myself I’d go and see all the musicians I have on my bucket list in concert if possible because you just don’t know when they’ll be gone. I was hoping to see Prince again but I know I’m fortunate to have seen him multiple times, including those two back to back shows. I love when artists cover other songs. When Prince did it, it was so unique and always felt like a tribute to that other artist from him. I found this cover of Radiohead’s Creep a few months ago. I wish I had seen him do this one. But I can’t complain. I’m one of the many lucky ones he put a show on for. Thank you and RIP Purple One for providing me with so many good memories from my childhood growing up in the 80s.
Jeremy Ruzumna, keyboards for Fitz and the Tantrums
As many of you know, I’ve been obsessed with Prince since I was 14. His music has influenced everything I do and play (my own bandmates make fun of me for it).
Back in the day, when I was in Macy Gray’s band, we had the honor of jamming with him a few times. That’s another long and very funny story- too long to type, so I’ll have to post a video sometime of me telling that saga.
Anyway, several years back, when some friends and I were the house band at Bardot in Hollywood, Prince was in the audience, unbeknownst to me. Funny thing is, I had brought a very “Prince”-esque keyboard setup that night, and all night I was quoting deep deep Prince cuts, solely for my own amusement, not realizing that the Purple One himself was watching.
The last song of the night was “Melting Pot”, by Booker T. and the MGs. Just as I was about to take a solo, I felt a tap on my shoulder. My first reaction was “Who the f*%k is tapping me on the shoulder during a keyboards solo!!!???” Then I turned to see none other than Prince- all decked out in, as I remember it, a fly ass red suit and fedora. And I remember he had on some other worldly oil- a scent I’d never come across before and haven’t since. Say what you will, but it was amazing.
Anyway, he gestured to the keyboard like “Can I play?” and of course I was like “Hell yes”.
Even though I was freaking out on the inside, I was trying to play it cool on the outside. So my expression was basically just me smiling and raising one eyebrow. But the weirdest thing was that he somehow mimicked my expression PERFECTLY. It was like that scene in “The Abyss” where the column of ocean water mimics that dude’s face. Me n’ Prince, looking at each other, with him doing some crazy CGI shit right to my face. Surreal.
Anyway, needless to say, he tore the keyboard a new one and ripped one of the most epic solos I’ve ever heard (or seen- the man was an AMAZING performer, as we know). All I could do was stand back to back with him trying to look cool while doing some minimal stuff on my Juno 60 to give him all the space he needed to do his thing on my other keyboard. Too bad it was pre-everything being on social media.
When he had finished tearing shit up, he left the building and, I’m told, got in his white limo and was gone into the night while we were still onstage finishing the last chorus of the song.
Afterwards, women were literally (I am not exaggerating) coming up to the keyboard and touching the keys (which still had that other-worldly Prince body oil scent on them) and then licking their fingers. For reals.
My then-girlfriend (and now wife) Theresa Gluck was there that night to witness all this.
Around 4 am, when I finally pulled into my garage, I opened my trunk so I could take the keyboard out. I looked around to make sure NOBODY was watching……..and I smelled the keyboard. smile emoticon
I was a college sophomore at the distinguished alma-mater when I started working at the Orange Wherehouse Records in 1984. One of the rules of our store was every employee got to pick a tape to play over the store sound system during their shift.
As one of the music employees; we were divvied up between music and video employees, yours truly was the “DJ” — manning the stereo. From the outset, “Purple Rain” was played every day, because someone inevitably requested it.
And im…agine that. Not coincidentally, we couldn’t keep the CD or cassettes in stock. Every time I did the weekly inventory, we were requesting more “Purple Rain” CDs and cassettes.
About that…. they came in a trickle, since every other store in the chain was undergoing the same issue. Get “Purple Rain” in, watch it go right back out just as fast. There were times we would unpack our limited inventory and it would literally disappear as soon as it hit the shelves.
The reasons weren’t hard to figure out. Prince was the true definition of the word “musician.” He had a way with music and sound that was unlike anything that came before and he did things HIS way.
Did he ever.
His first manager told the story to NPR today about taking a meeting with the president of Warner Records, where he informed the executive that this heretofore unrecorded 18-year-old was not only going to produce his first album, but would enjoy complete creative control over it.
The exec was part-dumbfounded, part-annoyed at the utter, 24k titanium chutzpah displayed here, but he let himself be talked into letting Prince play his album to see what he had here.
Halfway through the “audition,” he told Prince’s manager that yes, this 18-year-old kid could do whatever he wanted. Proof that even the C-suite understood what musical genius sounded like.
Bowie, Lemmy, Paul Kantner, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard, Keith Emerson, Maurice White, Natalie Cole, Scott Weiland — and George Martin putting it all together in a seamless package, How’d you like to throw THAT lineup out at SXSW or Coachella?
And now, during #TheYearTheMusicDied, you have Prince — yes the same Prince who once got booed off the stage opening for the Rolling Stones — headlining that lineup in the Great Beyond.
And it’s only April. It’s only freakin’ April.
The doves aren’t the only ones crying today. RIP to the musician who defined the word his way.
James Quintong, ESPN
Prince helped me find my own voice.
I was 6 or 7 when I first saw Prince sing “I Wanna Be Your Lover” on American Bandstand. I remember being intrigued that he wrote all the songs, played all the instruments, and could sing so high. And as a kid, I already loved to sing, so I learned the words. But I would only sing in front of family or friends because of severe stage fright. Those who know me now and see my profile picture might think that’s impossible, but it’s true, I swe…ar!
In 1982 or 1983, I started listening to a Detroit radio DJ called Electrifying Mojo. Mojo played Prince, and not just the hits, but deep cuts, B-sides, and mixes that seemed to run for hours on end. So when both the Purple Rain album and movie came out a couple years later, I was already hooked. I’d learn how to play songs on the piano, then retreat to my room to work on that high falsetto and talk-singing that was Prince’s signature. But never in public.
My junior year in college, I did karaoke for the first time in a contest that the Asian American group at Northwestern held. I sang “Little Red Corvette” and won. It was the first time I sang on a stage where I wasn’t part of a chorus or group. Goodbye, performance anxiety as a soloist. I haven’t looked back.
Thank you, Prince Rogers Nelson.
More from Chris Casquejo
My favorite Prince story:
Stevie Nicks and her then-husband were driving when Prince’s song “Little Red Corvette” came on the radio. Nicks started humming along to the melody, especially inspired by the lush synthesizers of the song, and “Stand Back” was born. They stopped and got a tape recorder and she recorded the demo in the honeymoon suite that night. Later, when Nicks went into the studio to record the song, she called Prince and told him the story of how she wrote the song to his melody. He came to the studio that night and played synthesizers on it, although his contribution is uncredited on the album. Then, she says, “he just got up and left as if the whole thing happened in a dream.”