Prince Rogers Nelson (1958-2016)
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Being alive in the same world as Prince is something I always took for granted. Even today, with the deafening news of his death, I can’t bring myself to be sad.
No… just comforted.
Some lives end abruptly, shockingly, and without a grasp or concept. Some lives end slowly while death casually lingers. I don’t think Prince’s life was either. I believe one day he was…and then he just wasn’t. His work was finished.
Upon the news of his passing, I knew I had to write something as a tribute, and I thought I was pretty clear about what I would say. Then as I sat and the words began to form, they just didn’t seem right. Prince was the Dalai Lama of R&B. I don’t take that statement lightly, and I mean it quite literally.
I was never a deliberate fan…not intentionally. Prince was someone I enjoyed, musically admired, and honestly, tended to make fun of a bit, but never with disrespect.
In my early 20s I had the pleasure of working at a concert as a production hand during the “” tour. His manager gathered all the local crew around before “The Artist’s” arrival and told us the rules:
We were to refer to him as “The Artist”, but never directly. We must not refer to him directly. We mustn’t speak to him. Non-verbal eye contact was fine.
If we were spoken to, we were to answer quickly, clearly, and with precise annunciation, and we were not to ever, ever, refer to him as “Prince”. Anyone caught doing so would be immediately dismissed for the day.
Prince was a diva. I’d worked with some divas before, and if I thought Diana Ross was bad, well she had nothing on our symbol-loving friend. So yes, we made fun. Of course we made fun. The Artist descended upon the venue…
I’m going to pause here for a second to make sure you clearly understand. The Artist did not just walk into the venue; he descended upon it, the way lightning crawls within the sand and creates glorious glass. This is how The Artist enters a room.
This dissension is a random moment that lives on in my mind, tucked away with all of the forgotten moments in my subconscious.
He stepped out of an ordinary sedan, driven by some ordinary runner (I can only imagine what that car ride must’ve been like). He had on a white tracksuit with black running stripes up the side, no shirt, just a velour jacket zipped to mid-chest.
Perfectly tousled hair, sunglasses- and flip-flops. Just like that, we were done making fun. I mean, that much perfection deserves due respect. If this man wants to be called “The Artist”, so be it.
As he walked by, I was acknowledged with a nod. He never spoke to me. I did my job and actually had to leave the venue before the show. In hindsight, plans for that evening seem irrelevant. My husband and I did catch his show later in the tour and were simply blown away by his talent, boisterousness, and general presence of him.
Hmph. Who knew I was a Prince fan?
When today’s news hit, I was no more or less a fan than the average person. I felt emotional, mostly disappointed, upon hearing of his passing.
So much waste?
So much… so much… so much what?
I was driven to do a little research. Prince was a family man. He was named after his father, who so proudly named him “Prince” because he wanted him to be wildly successful. Prince was his father’s stage name. He gifted it to his son like a betrothal of fortune.
I could give you the biography, but I won’t. I could tell you about his success, achievements, the musical algorithms created by him, and even the songs no one knew he wrote, but I won’t. He just was. He was a powerhouse.
Please, if you can, tell me of one other man who could walk through a room dressed in purple-crushed velvet, platform heels, feathers, black fingernails, eyeliner, eye shadow, and glitter with that kind of dignity and charisma.
I dare you to find me one other. Okay, I’ll give you David Bowie, but that’s a story best saved for another day.
Prince lived. He truly lived. He thrived, loved, created, enamored, and brought others up from nothing. He gave more than he took.
He was complete.
Even upon Bowie’s passing earlier this year, the sense of loss was so astonishing, I think because David was still creating. He was still fighting and had yet to finish his life.
Prince, on the other hand, I believe would have been completely content in knowing he had led a full and complete life, even ending at such a young age.
Dear Prince, I will never see purple without thinking of you. I will forever see your face like an ocean of violets in bloom. Be rested, friend. The world will never wonder what, or who, you were.