My connection to Prince goes way back to my childhood. For me, the one year anniversary of his untimely death is a time to look back on various experiences that involved him and his music. Internalizing this stuff does not feel right, so I will share some with you.
- 1984 (age 10)- I rode my bike to the local record store with a pocket full of change to purchase Purple Rain on vinyl, as well as seeing the movie in the theater on a Saturday afternoon, are priceless early memories. That record and movie solidified the fact that I would be a Prince fan for the rest of my life.
- 1987- Upon the release of Sign o’ the Times, I became so enthralled with that record, that I spent many hours in my darkened bedroom putting my own imagery to the sounds. Basically I was creating movies in my head based on the songs, complete with distinct characters, etc. Something about those songs kicked my 13 year old imagination into overdrive…and I couldn’t get enough.
- 1997- Prince visited Cleveland for the first time since the Purple Rain tour, so this was my first opportunity to see him live. I was lucky enough to score a general admission ticket on the floor. I arrived at the venue extremely early, and when my ticket was taken, I proceeded to fly into the arena like a rocket, down the stairs, past the security guard that was trying to stop me from running, and I never stopped until I hit the barricade. When Prince hit the stage, I immediately started crying. There he was, close enough for me to reach out and touch him (I wouldn’t dare), after waiting for so many years to see him. Unforgettable.
- 1998- He returned to Cleveland for another show at the same venue as the previous year, but this time, the after party would arguably be more memorable for me than the concert itself. After leaving the gig during the encore, I quickly made my way to the club that was hosting the party. I was one of the first people to arrive, and after forking over my $20, I was given a thorough pat-down and entered the club. After about a half hour, more concert-goers began to arrive. As I was watching people out on the dance floor, I turned to my right, and to my surprise, Chaka Khan was standing next to me. A short time later, I saw security guards scamper towards a door on the opposite side of the club from where I was. I quickly made my way across the dance floor to get a closer look, the door opened, and in walked Prince in his bedazzled glory, cane and all. Let me correct myself, it was much more of a glide than straight up walking. He moved right past me, no more than a few feet away, flanked by security. His presence was palpable and electrifying. He spent much of the night in an upstairs VIP area that overlooked the dance floor, occasionally reaching his cane down so people could jump up and touch it. Amazing night.
- 2002- The One Nite Alone tour came to Cleveland, and I was lucky enough to get in to witness the astonishing soundcheck and Q&A session up close and personal. Prince was charming and unassuming, answering many questions about his guitars, lyrics, etc. This was one of the most surreal things I have ever experienced, and I distinctly remember not wanting it to end.
- 2016- The day I wish I could forget. When I heard the news on the radio, I had the strangest sensation of my senses temporarily failing me. I felt as though I could not hear very well or see very well. I felt a sense of electrical shocks through my body. My first reaction was complete and utter denial…until I could not escape the news on every radio station, television network, and social media outlet. That feeling of shock, dread, and despair did not leave me for weeks, and I know I was not alone. What started to make me feel better was thinking about the years of personal memories I had, and how lucky I was to have shared 5 different evenings in the same building with him.
For quite a while after his passing, I was not hearing the music the same as I always had. The best way I could describe it is going from hearing the music in vibrant colors, to hearing it only in black and white. Something about the fact that I knew he was no longer here was making it not nearly as enjoyable to listen to. I have since broken through that, basically by coming to the realization that whether he is still with us or not, that music will ALWAYS be a part of me, and nobody can ever take that away.
Thank you, Prince…for everything.