Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)
So, for the third time this year, I’m here writing another one of these. Another month, another legend, another obituary. Fuck. This time its Prince. The Purple One, the Angel of Lake Minnetonka, anthropomorphic funk, and purveyor of all things groovy. 57 years old. The world is a somber hue of violet today.
Prince was the embodiment of cool. No one else could have rocked tri-lensed shades, a cane, an afro with its own orbit, and a pencil thin ‘stache like a R&B/Rock/Pop Salvador Dali. No one else could have taken a screen cap of Dave Chappell geeking them in a tribute and flipped it as the cover art for a late career smash.
Prince made it cool to be unapologetically sexy. Like Bowie, he proved that gods are androgynous, shining, supernaturally talented individuals. Here’s a quick list of artists we have him to thank for existing:
-Everyone since the 80’s. Seriously.
Prince’s influence knows no bounds. Some of the most tantric love songs ever sang came from the tug-of-war between his baritone and falsetto, the most emotive guitar riffs of all time sprang from his fingers. Listening to Purple Rain sounds like hearing the future 30 years ago; still fresh, still ahead of us, still untouchable. “When Doves Cry” remains a tour de force. “Take Me With You” is still beautiful and irreproachably catchy. “Purple Rain” is still perfect.
There’s a video that popped up last year of a concert in Minneapolis in 1983. There was Prince, on stage with a backing band that would be come to be known, aptly, as the Revolution. He goes on, over thirteen minutes to perform “Purple Rain” for the first, and really the only necessary time; his improvisation and pure, unadulterated talent were used as the recording for the official album version that would, without hyperbole, change the world the following year. He was infamously stingy about unauthorized usage of his material and that video has become a little harder to find today, much like downloads of his music or any concert film. If you can find, bask in it.
This is one of the few performances of his on the internet. It’s one of his best. It rained purple that night; a rare moment when man overtakes nature. When that sheet raises it wasn’t because of the wind, it was because Prince commanded it. Prince was more than royalty, he was a god whipping up a maelstrom. He was revolution in a blouse. Breakfast can wait. It’s raining purple again today.
Rest easy, legend.
25/04/2016 UPDATE: The aforementioned and removed video has been re-uploaded. We embedded it below. In case you don’t want to re-read the ramblings above, this is the first time “Purple Rain” was ever performed. Largely improvised, it was recorded live and would later become, like, the perfect rock song. Please watch it and shed a purple tear, no Activis.