Underneath the Purple Rain | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Underneath the Purple Rain

Prince Rogers Nelson: June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016

Prince Rogers Nelson, born June 7, 1958, left this world on April 21, at the way-too-young age of 57. Following a week of tributes and remembrances, the shock is still unfathomable and fresh. Prince was a talent for the ages, and for many, the news of Prince's death hit like a wind-sucking blow to the chest.

Although his memorial, held Saturday, was for close friends and family, Prince's closest friends, loves, collaborators and fellow musicians were interviewed heavily by media outlets as his fans grieved.

Mayte Garcia, 42, Prince's ex-wife and the mother of his child, Boy Gregory, who died one week after birth, was very distraught. She broke down in tears saying she would travel to Minnesota for his funeral. In her released statement she said: "I loved him then, I love him now and will love him eternally. He's with our son now."

Sheena Easton posted on her website: "It is impossible to sum up in a few neat phrases what his loss means to all of us. He has been described as iconic, innovative, controversial, unique, charismatic and one of the driving forces of music for the last four decades. Yes, he was all of those things, but he was also warm and generous, gentle and kind and when he chose you as his friend, you were blessed."

On National Public Radio, '80s singer Cyndi Lauper came forward to talk about what Prince's help meant to her early career. Fighting back tears, Lauper said, "He was a great, great artist, one of the great artists of our time, and I am so grateful to have known him." Prince helped many performers, penning some of their most famous songs. Sinead O'Connors hit "Nothing Compares 2U" was composed by Prince. He wrote songs for Lauper, Madonna, Alicia Keys, the Bangles, Stevie Nicks, Chaka Khan and others.

His unique music and incredible talent will undoubtedly inspire people for generations to come. Prince was an original and innovative songwriter, musician and performer, who could effortlessly bounce from soul to rhythm and blues, to funk, to straight-ahead rock 'n' roll. Where he really shined, however was as a virtuoso and provocative guitar slinger.

By way of example, his cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," performed at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony is considered by some to be his best guitar solo. Prince slyly keeps to the far side of the stage until near the end of the song when he steps out and rips off an incendiary solo.

From his 1979 breakthrough, "Prince," to the album and movie "Purple Rain," in 1984, and on through the subsequent decades, Prince created the music that was the soundtrack to the end of the millennium. His music stood up to the challenge, as epic as the times.

The Purple Rain Tour set list included some of his most well-known work: "When Doves Cry," "Purple Rain," "Delirious," "Darling Nikki," "Let's Go Crazy," "I Would Die 4 U" and (Tonight I'm Going to Party Like It's) "1999." Albums such as "Purple Rain," and "Diamonds and Pearls," played in heavy rotation in the 1980s and '90s. It can only be guessed how many millions of people danced to "1999" on the eve of the 21st Century.

The Revolution played with Prince in his early years and included the famous, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, as well as Bobby Z on drums, Brown Mark on bass and Matt Fink on keyboards. Sheila E. opened for Prince and the Revolution, alternating with Appolonia 6 on the Purple Rain tour that sold more than 1.7 million tickets.

In 1993, he rebelled against Warner Brothers for refusing to release his backlog of material. He changed his name to a symbol and became known as "the artist formerly known as Prince."

Years later, his 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, majestically performed on a stage shaped as this symbol he had created for himself, marked a high point in his life. Televised to 140 million viewers, he performed "Purple Rain" in a downpour closing with an unforgettable four-minute live rendition called the best halftime performance in Super Bowl history.

Prince was born and lived his life in Minnesota. He was found in an elevator in his Paisley Park Studios on the morning of April 21. First responders attempted CPR, but were unable to revive him and he was soon pronounced dead. Prince was a Jehovah's witness. That his mind contemplated the afterlife for many years is evident in his 1982 hit, "Let's Go Crazy":

"Dearly beloved

We are gathered here today

2 get through this thing called life

Electric word life

It means forever and that's a might long time

But I'm here 2 tell u

There's something else

The afterworld..."

Singer and drummer Sheila E. (Sheila Escovedo), once engaged to Prince, said it best in her statement: "Thank God, love lives Forever." May the love Prince brought to the world survive and grow. Nothing Compares 2U.

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