Purple Rain, Purple Rain

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The music world suffered a huge blow last week, to say the least. There’s really no need to go into the details of Prince’s unexpected passing – from the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower, the world has been lit up with purple lights as a tribute to his musical legacy.

In case anyone is asking “What’s the big deal?” or wondering why so many people have been buzzing about losing Prince, I have several reasons to list off. And this is coming from the point of view of a fan and a songwriter/musician.

Prince was the definition of a true artist.

Do yourself a favor and really look at the “artists” who are constantly at the top of the music charts and at the forefront of social media nowadays. A large chunk of them, by definition, are not true artists. Prince was a creator. Take away the funky dance moves, flashy outfits, and diva-esque attitude, and you’ll find a prolific songwriter who also played and excelled at more than two dozen instruments. He may have appeared avant-garde on the outside, but every part of his being was dedicated to expressing whatever artistic inspiration he was feeling in the moment; and he had the actual skills to back it all up.

The key to longevity is to learn every aspect of music that you can. -Prince

In a music world swamped with auto-tune and computer-generated instrumentals, Prince was one of the few iconic artists left. I thought I was pretty badass for being a classically trained pianist, proficient flutist (don’t laugh), and being able to fake my way on a drum set. But to be honest, I could study and train every day for the rest of my life and never come close to the level of musicianship and vision Prince had.

It would be silly to say that he has inspired our music… It’s beyond that. He’s somewhere within every song I’ve ever written. -Justin Timberlake

Prince always kept it real.

Unlike the majority of celebrities who are fed lines via publicists and marketing execs, Prince never pandered to what people (especially interviewers) wanted to hear. He didn’t give a damn. Whether or not you liked what he said, you can’t deny the fact that he was incredibly genuine and honest.

music3b[Credit: Savage Beast Records]

Prince embodied a missing moral code within the music industry.

The gatekeepers must change. -Prince

I can’t even mention this topic without going on a rant: The music industry has become bastardized by the fact that there’s relatively no barriers to entry. Couple that with all these cheesy contests and shows promising people a quick ticket to the top, and you’ll see that the industry is nothing short of a reality TV show – nothing like it used to be (I wish I had been born in the 1940s).

Anyone can put out material, mix beats from their own laptops, and become YouTube sensations simply by covering other people’s work. Prince would pay for the royalties to perform and promote songs from other artists, but he wasn’t one to capitalize on a cover recording. He also embodied the principle that hard work, hours of study, original content, and dedicating your life to perfecting your craft should be the ONLY way in.

There’s a lot of other shady business crap I could bore you with, but just watch the clip below and you’ll see how much respect he had for music and creativity at its core.

Prince concerts were in a league of their own.

In August and September of 2007, Prince launched “The Earth Tour” in London, which was a series of 21 performances at The O2 Arena. That was at the beginning of my senior year in university, and I had the immense privilege of going to one of his September concerts and seeing the man live in action.

It’s hard to describe the electricity in the air that night, but the entire experience was surreal. That little guy had an unworldly level of presence. Even when he was ascending to the stage on a platform, before the lights flooded the arena, you could feel the whole atmosphere change. To this day, I can’t figure out how he had such command of the stage, the crowd, the band… It’s like he drew us all in and engaged us for every single second. And he put on one hell of a show, dancing, singing, and playing various instruments nonstop.

My favorite moment: Before he started playing the piano for his second (yes, second) encore, he said, “I’ve got too many hits!”

P.S. Below is a picture from the concert, and Prince is in that little curlicue of his symbol. Cameras weren’t permitted, so I tried to be sneaky by using my 2007 Motorola cell phone… which is the equivalent of trying to take a picture with a potato.

music3aPrince did it all for the love.

Did you know that tickets to a Prince concert had an average price of $25? That’s literally $10 more than what people had to pay to hear my broke ass sing at a hole-in-the-wall cafe here in NYC. Mind you, this man is a legend whose career spanned nearly four decades – and he STILL sold tickets for $25. Think about it.

One of the most mind-blowing facts is that Prince’s music vault contains enough unreleased material to literally publish a new album every year for the next century. Nobody can write and record that many songs, simply to have filed away, unless they’re incredibly passionate about what they’re doing. How much happier and fulfilled would we all be if every day of our lives was spent doing something we loved so much? That, alone, is a lesson we can learn from him.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. -Prince

Rest in love, Prince Rogers Nelson. And thank you for being part of my journey.

Main Image: LiveForLiveMusic.com

 

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