Hearing of Prince‘s death three years ago was a
major event, a moment where time stopped personally, a thing I’m still coming to terms with. As with all of his fans who had grown up whilst he and his music morphed and changed, there was an indelible connection which I never questioned, interrogated or probed. On some base level inside of me, I was just glad the man existed and that his music had been a constant in my life at different times and places.
Sometimes It Snows In April and the whole Parade album is the impromptu serenade of me and my first serious girlfriend to one another. Erotic City is my brother and me joyfully getting down in an Atlanta club one late Christmas night. And cutting between two copies on so, so many nights behind the decks. Anotherloverholenyohead, that typical blend of sadness-cloaked, doo-wop-structured sinuous funk heard countless times at home on headphones.
Sexy MF marked a welcome return to form and to brass-backed explicitness when I was enjoying on the south coast of England what still lingered of the rare groove and obscure funk scene.
Receiving a promo copy of Musicology in 2004, I felt somehow so privileged, as if I’d ‘arrived’ (?) in some way (whilst being additionally grateful to hear EWF, Sly Stone, Chuck D and Jam Master Jay name-checked in a assembled company of ‘body movin’ PhDs). This wasn’t just a freebie piece of vinyl… this was new music by Prince!
I never met the man of course, so my thoughts and feelings have stayed un-touched and unaltered by the reality which can come with encountering a hero or heroine, warts ‘n’ all.
Putting such a restless and progressive musician and entity in a jar labelled ‘nostalgia’ was never going to work but, in a sense, due to the fact that he did things on his terms, was frequently absent from the magazines and press titles but was clearly continuing to be effortlessly fruitful, musically, the fact that ‘new’ music has emerged since his death is almost a tacit indication that life goes on and continues still in some strange way for this Prince lover. The King is dead… long live the King, still.
Sly is alive but largely incommunicado; James Brown has died, but Prince continues to be hugely relevant not least because of the vaults being opened, the tour to be had, the embryonic book that’s soon to see the light of the day and the curtains moved back a little with Matt Thorne’s esteemed biography.
Not long after the news came of his death, when I absorbed the ‘how’ and the ‘where’, and thought of the long-standing pain he must daily battled, I painted him. It’s below. I’d come across a photo of him and I wanted to correct it in a way, if that word makes any sense. Whilst he looked peaceful, the emergence of his deceased self into the public eye hurt (though did not surprise) and I missed the living colour of him, his mischievous joie de vivre. The corridor, the dark shadows, they were wrong in so many ways.
I wanted to concentrate on Prince‘s celebration of life, on the positives overwhelmingly associated with the man and his music. Having witnessed another untimely passing recently of someone I respected and loved, it’s difficult to gauge how to respond, how to memorialise someone you cannot believe has left the earth.