Prince is dead. He was 57. In a year when the likes of David Bowie has died, and only yesterday there was Victoria Wood, this is a hammer to the guts. See, when I was a teenager I was still a Bowie fan, I was a bit Punk and liked a lot of Alternative music of the time, but Prince stood alone as someone that was doing stuff that nobody else was.
I’ve seen him live three times. Each time was extraordinary from the Lovesexy tour in 1988 or in the mid-90’s when the commercial success had dried up, it didn’t matter. This was Prince and he’d play and play and play because a Prince gig was a true show and that’s it. At 57 he’s dead and the planet’s lost a real original talent.
Now there’s not a lot of Prince’s music on YouTube due to Prince’s tight control of his musical rights. There’s Cream. Not exactly one of Prince’s best songs.
One of my favourite Prince videos that are on YouTube doesn’t feature Prince. It’s film director Kevin Smith talking about working with Prince and as a fan it’s a hilarious, and sometimes sad, clip.
But if you dig deep enough there’s little golden gems in there. Here’s a 1982 gig from the Dirty Mind/Controversy days and it’s bloody amazing stuff showing a performer realising that he really is that good and letting the audience appreciate that fact. It’s also Prince when he was a filthy sex beast and recorded songs like Jack U Off.
Then there’s oddities like this rather amazing live version of Radiohead’s Creep.
To find the hits one has to delve deep into the folds of the internet, and the classics are there. It’s astonishing to look back now as the man’s died to see the sheer quality he produced during the 1980’s and the range he had over a decade that saw him become one of the biggest artists on the planet.
I first discovered Prince when I saw the 1999 video on some BBC2 music programme. I didn’t quite know what I was seeing, or indeed, hearing. All I knew was that I loved it and wanted to hear more and of course, I fancied Wendy and Jill Jones.So I saved up my pennies and bought the album, a double album at that! Little Red Corvette was the other huge single from that album but it’s only a hint of what was to come.I still think though the best track on that album is D.M.S.R.
Then came Purple Rain. Everyone found out about Prince then. What was once the preserve of freakish teenagers was now mass market, but as commercial as this album is, it doesn’t stop it being a great album. Ordinary artists would follow something like Purple Rain up with something obvious, so another Hendrix inspired rock album say, but not Prince. He followed it up with probably my favourite album of his.
Around the World In A Day is a bit of everything. It’s poppy, it’s psychedelic, it’s a wee bit mad. It’s brilliant. A song like Raspberry Beret is pop genius, but the track Paisley Park is just sublime stuff. After this Prince was on a creative roll. Kiss, and then Sign O’ The Times, U Got the Look, Lovesexy, which is the tour where I first saw Prince at the Wembley Arena. Then there’s the Black Album, hell, even the Batman soundtrack isn’t totally without merits.
I could go on for hours trawling through the internet but it’s easier for me to hobble over to my CD’s to pull out some tunes. In a year where talented musicians, actors, artists have died in some cases far, far too early, this is still a shock and it hurts because at 57 that’s too young.
So thanks to Prince. He’s gone but the things he’s left behind are amazing!