Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince Rogers Nelson

I've loved music my entire life, my mother had stacks of records and played them all the time. I know lyrics to songs from the 40's and 50's, I know who played sax in which big band. I have eclectic taste. I love opera and classical music, but I mostly love rock and roll.

What I love most about music is great musicians, no matter the genre, which brings me to my point. Prince Rogers Nelson was a great musician.

Prince was a great guitarist, how great? Eric Clapton was asked in an interview, "How does it feel to the greatest guitarist in the world? Clapton's answer, "You'd have to ask Prince." That is one hell of an endorsement.

Great songs have to have hooks, think of the guitar riff that opens "Satisfaction" by the Stones or vocal opening of "Rave on" by Buddy Holly. A song has to grab you, like the opening notes of "Daytripper by the Beatles. Grab you and not let you go. And when it's over you feel the need play it again and again, then you play it some more. Prince knew how write those songs.

Great songs have to have drama and majesty, think about the slow build of the Allman Brothers take on "Stormy Monday" or Jimi's "Little Wing". Prince understood that too.

Great songs have to have great lyrics, Dylan comes to mind, listen the words of "Positively 4th Street" or "Blown in the Wind". Prince checked that box.

Great songs have some party in them, "Stand" by Sly Stone comes to mind, almost anything Motown or great dance classics like "I will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor or almost anything by Donna Summer, BeyoncĂ© or Madonna. Once again, Prince got it. Check out Chaka Kahn's "I Feel for You", Prince wrote it.

Great songs have to have sex in them, lots of sex and sensuality. I was a little kid, in the 6th grade, when I heard Gene Vincent's "Lotta Loving", I knew what he was singing about, I knew what Elvis meant when he sang, "One Night with You". Prince knew.

As a tiny, epileptic boy picking out notes on his father's piano in Minneapolis Prince Rogers Nelson must have taken all of this music in and internalized it. 

Prince could do it all, he could write a funky dance song, he could write about relationships, good and bad, as bad and nasty as "Darling Nikki and as sweet and good as "Nothing Compares 2 U". There isn't a guy in the world, who has been in love who doesn't understand what he was saying in "If I was Your Girl Friend" or "When Doves Cry".

Prince could rock his tiny ass off. Listen to his solo on "Let's Go Crazy" or his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame appearance when legendary musicians saluted George Harrison. Prince lit the place on fire.

Has there ever been a Super Bowl half-time show like his performance in a rain storm in Miami?

Prince played 21 straight nights in LA, three venues, the Forum, the Troubadour and the Hard Rock. Every show was outstanding.

My daughters loved Prince, his music pounded out of their bedrooms when they were alone or with their friends. Was I irritated? No I wasn't, because the music was so damn good and I remembered being their age and how important music was to me.

Prince made music for almost 40 years, he aged gracefully and he seldom looked back, he was shy except when he was on stage. He was a kind and gentle man. He stayed in Minneapolis, the city he put on the map musically, he gave back to his community. 

In the 90's Prince did a late night benefit at CITI in Boston. Patrick Lyons, a club and music venue owner for years and years, said after the two hour show, "There's never been anything like that happen here."

Musicians like Prince don't come along very often, we were fortunate to have him for as long as we did.



  1. I've listened to the original "When Doves Cry" repeatedly over the past 24 hours. I still love that thumping beat.

  2. Great tribute Bob. He was a superb artist.