I guess it must happen to any true music fan-that inevitable road to Damascus moment; when your spine shivers, the stomach sickens and your road is set. From my very earliest memory I had always loved music.
I just did. Before I could kick a ball, enjoy a cartoon or even appreciate a film, music got me. Be it a single, album, gig or plain old song on the radio. Everybody gets the moment-shit I’ve gotta get serious about this thing. That’s what Purple Rain did to me. Prince meant absolutely nothing… nada, not a care or notion.
If it would save my life, I could probably name one or two hits. Plus the guy looked weird. Why the fuck is he dressing like Little Richard. I was buying The Stone Roses debut, the deal was two albums £25 quid. I’ll give this guy a go. I was hooked from the first listen. Never in one album had I ever heard such an eclectic collage of sound from one track to the next. I also knew what I was hearing, before I truly understood. I was listening to the history of American music. It’s DNA ran through it.
Yet it was entirely new. You could hear Stevie, Jimi, James Sly and influences a kid from Liverpool would never get to know. Yet-you couldn’t at the same. Prince sounded like Prince, and no one else. From that day I was learning about music. I devoured Stevie, James, Sly. Parliament, Funkadelica, Motown, Stax.
Of course nobody is greater than great. For me, Prince is near the top of the tree. His musicianship alone, could never be defined, or contained by any one gene. Rock, funk, pop, jazz country, and damm fine balladeer. What was he? Why he was a composer, writer, producer, arranger and a one man walking talking orchestrator.
The world was his stage. But as of any true artist he was never the happier the humbler the set. Sometimes, just being in the crowd is the greatest stage.