Just about to hop in the shower last night at 6.15 and stuck on radio 4 (yeah I know, rock ‘n’ roll eh?) as someone announced that 'prince' had died. Prince? Prince Charles? Prince Charming? Prince Foghorn of Monaco? It didn't occur to me for one single second that it was THE Prince, someone I’d grown up with and been lucky enough to see live less than two years ago and who, at the time, looked like a man half his age. It was only when they mentioned the word Minneapolis that it clicked and I ran downstairs in my boxer shorts and sat shivering watching the TV as the story broke, too 'gobsmacked' I believe the phrase is, to move.
If you grew up in the 80s Prince was one of the holy trinity of global pop stars – the other two being Jacko and Madge – and it’s incredible that only one of them is now left. No cause of death has yet been announced and, apart from a slightly macabre fascination, that really doesn’t matter. What is important is that this year we’ve lost two of popular music’s defining talents (Bowie being the other of course) leaving the whole world a much less colourful place.
Few artists have been as prolific as Prince, I think I heard that he’d released 39 studio albums since his debut in 1978...or more than one a year...and that’s frankly astonishing, especially as some were doubles or triples. Legend has it that he recorded a song a day too and apparently there’s a huge stash of unheard stuff in a vault at Paisley Park so, the music biz being what it is, ‘new’ material from Prince might well be trickling out for years or decades to come.
It’s a bit of a cliché but, like Bowie, he really did seem other worldly. Short and slight with a speaking voice that often seemed on the verge of vanishing into a fragile whisper, onstage and in the studio he out-dressed, out-played and out-sang pretty much every other pop star around and, for many of my generation in particular, he was our Hendrix, Bowie, Brown, Presley and Wonder all wrapped up in one. RIP Prince. x