“Remember when we were kids and we’d fight about who was better: Michael Jackson or Prince? Prince won.”- Chris Rock
Hearing about Michael Jackson’s death didn’t really effect me all that much and I haven’t been sure why. Not that I would have thought I would have pounded my fist into the earth and scream “Why, God, why?!?!” but I thought I would have felt SOMETHING. When I did actually think about it I felt a sense of relief for him, he just seemed to be at war with himself.
The man lived a life that is about as unique as any person could possibly live. He went from being merely famous as a child to being the de-facto king of the world for a good chunk of the Eighties. This set quite the stage for the inevitable fall and with all the records he sold he had the money to fall anyway he saw fit.
But if Prince had died, forget it. I’d be right out there sobbing with the masses, in a bootleg T-shirt celebrating the other Jehovah’s Witness music superstar. I haven’t be listening to much Michael since his death, but I’ve been listening to tons of Prince recently.
This is partially because Spin just did an awesome story about the making of Purple Rain, the movie –and soundtrack -that made Prince’s career, complete with a downloadable Purple Rain tribute album. Did you know that it was basically recorded live? I kinda did, but I’m a music nerd. It wasn’t completely live, but compared to many other albums recorded in the 80’s, it might as well have been recorded on a boom box at practice.
Did you know that Vanity- according to Purple Rain director Albert Magnoli- dropped out of the movie at the last minute to appear in as Mary Magdalene in The Last Temptation of Christ? I wonder how that worked out for her?
Did you know that Wendy and Lisa were an actual, factual Lesbian couple? Thank God I didn’t know that in 1984, it would have been all too much. The fate of the chick that was all up on Wendy in the “1999” video was not disclosed.
Ah, the “1999” video, that was my introduction to Prince. My parents had separated and we moved in with my grandparents in South Florida and got my first real dose of what I had previously only seen when I was able to slip away at gatherings where the hosts had cable: MTV.
Prince was the one person making pop music in the 80’s that I actually liked from the beginning. Except for my metal-head friends, he was the only person we could all agree on; I wasn’t into Janet Jackson and they certainly weren’t feeling The Replacements.
Oddly, I didn’t buy much of his music until I got a bit older; I just didn’t want to explain to my dad why I wanted to buy an album that came with a poster of the artist in bikini bottoms or sang songs like “Jack U Off”. Jeez, I got embarrassed when my parents saw toy commercials. Luckily, I didn’t have to; he got a lot more radio time than most of my other favorites by a light-year.
And the man is still making ridiculous amounts of music- too much, a lot of writers say- and people still flock to his concerts. In short (sorry, Prince), he is still alive and worthy of celebration and that’s just what I intend to do.
In a music nerd side note –and this isn’t in the story- there is kind of this weird connection of Prince’s exes and Motley Crue; Vanity was engaged to Nikki Sixx before she became born-again and Tommy Lee was engaged to Prince’s ex-wife Mytae Garcia. I wonder if he ever came up in conversation.
In yet another music nerd aside- Prince and Larry Graham- bass player for Sly and The Family Stone- have gone door to door together for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Something tells me that they got a lot fewer doors slammed in their face than most missionaries.