Friday, April 29, 2016


Everyone knew what I wanted for my 50th birthday was Prince in my living room performing Nikki Grinds. It was a ridiculous want.  But there was a slight possibility it could’ve happen. I was close with a couple of people who had access to him.

He was my guy. From the moment I saw him on Dick Clark I was hooked. He was something new—an androgynous, sexy, energetic ball of funk. Wrote the music, played all the instruments. I saw him live as soon as I could. The next time I was in home, in Atlanta, he was playing at a club across the street from the Fox Theatre on Peachtree, promoting Dirty Mind. His guitar licks were masterful, close to Hendrix, and he had more energy than Patti LaBelle as he bodaciously danced across the stage in bikini briefs. Prince was phenomenal. I placed him next to Stevie in my musical lexicon.

I bought every album. The recordings were great but couldn’t compare with seeing Prince, which I did as often as I could. His 40th birthday tour was scheduled for the Metro New York area. So I went to Baltimore. Took the Greyhound. Saw the concert with my friend Van. Prince danced all over the stage, on the piano. And we danced too. Everybody was on their feet, gyrating with Prince. For more than two hours he captivated us. Prince was definitely getting better with age.

Prince was the only person who owned a color. It was a purple world for a couple of weeks after his death.

Prince was music—the instruments he played, his soaring vocals, the songs he wrote for himself and those other musicians recorded. He was a poet, I guess I should've known by the way, you parked your car sideways that it wouldn't last. And audacious, his sixth album Purple Rain, was also a film. He helped promote other artists, Shelia E, Morris Day, Judith Hill, Misty Copeland who performed in his music video and toured with Prince before she became a prima.

But what made Prince, Prince was that he set his rules. My Way should have been his theme song. He maintained privacy, didn’t believe his musical celebrity gave fans access to her personal life. He wouldn’t be categorized, not his music, which contained elements of everything, or his persona—am I black or white, straight or gay. And his battle for control of his music that became public in the 1990s when he was in open conflict with the music industry. Wrote the word “slave” on his cheek and changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph. The different ways that music is delivered today can be credited to him—he was one of the first to offer his music as a download, gave copies away concert tickets and later in British newspapers. He was an original.

Prince may be gone. I’ll never see him perform live again but I’m waiting for them to release the music in the vaults. Rumor is Prince recorded everyday. Everyone played with him. I know he and another of my icons, Miles Davis, spent several days in the studio. I'm waiting for those tracks.