By EVAN PARK (@evanpark17)
Photo credit goes to Sandarose.
One week ago, the music world lost one of its biggest influences. The Minnesota native was found dead in his home/studio at only 57 years of age. It has taken me some time to be able to reflect on Prince’s passing publicly, as he was a major role model for my musical career.
Prince did not believe in boundaries. His lyrics were considered extreme at times. He sang what he wanted and did not believe that there should be any repercussions. He wrote a song literally titled, “Controversy.”
The man knew the music industry was something great, but he knew that he could make it better. He did not believe that a music company should tie him down. In 1993, Prince wrote the word, “SLAVE,” on his face before major live performances.
He did this because he believed that the record company, Warner Bros., had too much artistic and financial control of his musical output. He later changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, voiding his contract with the record company and making himself a lone-artist. He was one of the first major artists to do so.
"In 1993, Prince wrote the word, 'SLAVE,' on his face before major live performances."
Prince. Photo credit goes to Daily Kos.
Prince continued to break boundaries when he recorded “For You” in 1978. In this album, there are 27 total instruments played but only one person who actually performs. Prince played every part and overlaid the audio tracks to make the album. He was the first artist to do this and have major success with it. He has done this on most of his albums.
Finally, Prince did not believe there should be any boundaries for the people listening to his music. A story that comes to mind for me is when he played a show in Boston in the early 80’s. When Prince performed, there was tension amongst people of different races.
The audience was comprised mainly of blacks, whites and Irishmen all living in or around the suburbs of Boston. Prince melted away the tensions one song, guitar solo and scream at a time; showing how his music could bring people together no matter the boundaries that lie between them.
Another great Prince memory is from an interview between Eric Clapton and Howard Stern. Clapton is regarded as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. Stern asked him how it felt to be the greatest guitar player in the world.
Clapton’s response was classic.
“Howard, I can’t answer that question. You’re going to have to ask Prince; it’s him, not me.”
An unbelievable amount of respect was given to Prince from other great artists, for they knew just how great the 5-foot-2 Minnesotan was.
"Prince melted away the tensions one song, guitar solo and scream at a time; showing how his music could bring people together no matter the boundaries that lie between them."
Prince. Photo credit goes to Boston.com.
Prince was such an iconic figure, releasing more albums than most top artists even dream of doing. He was such an iconic figure that monuments all over the world were lit up in his famous purple during the days that followed his death.
I’ll always remember the first time I listened to the album titled, “Purple Rain.”
I was in fifth grade at the time, listening to music with my father as we waited for my mother to arrive home from work. Five for Fighting was playing, and I grew extremely fond of the sounds produced. I asked my dad if Five for Fighting was the best musician out there -- John Ondrasik was the main mind behind the band.
My father responded with a quick, “No.”
I later asked if it was Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Stipe, Elton John, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Eddie Vedder or George Harrison. Even Lenny Kravitz popped up in the question, too, someone who has publicly said since Prince’s passing that the icon was his greatest influence.
The answer for all of the names I’d mentioned was, “No.” I then asked, “Who is it then?!?”
Dad responded with a simple, one word answer that I’d heard before but never truly listened to: “Prince.” He immediately downloaded “Purple Rain” onto my Microsoft Zen. (Talk about an OG MP3 player.) It was then when I truly realized who this man was.
A fifth grader, who was learning piano and trumpet, was listening to “Purple Rain,” by Prince. This sparked my interest in learning as much about music as I could. Since then, I’ve learned over a dozen instruments, ranging from clarinet to organ, trombone to piano and guitar to trumpet.
"I'll always remember the first time I listened to the album titled, 'Purple Rain.' "
Prince. Photo credit goes to SHOWTiBZLOVE.
During my senior year of high school, my music director mentioned how I had similar aspects to my music as Prince did, but I had a long way to go if I wanted to be as talented as him. He explained to me how Prince did not just play instruments; he owned them.
He made them what he wanted, playing whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. I think this is what made the man so good: his ability to captivate audiences, tell stories, spread messages and break boundaries. He did a lot of good for the music industry, and I hope they can someday figure out how to thank him for it.
Prince’s music means a lot to me. I own almost every album he has produced, and when his memoir comes out I’ll own that, too. If this past week has shown me anything, it is that Prince’s life may be over, but his music and his legacy will live on forever. We will never see another Prince again -- ever. He truly was a one of a kind, and I’m sure he is rocking out with all the other great musicians that have also left us.
Rest in peace, Prince. You will be missed.