In my entire life, I’ve only cried over two celebrities dying, Anthony Bourdain and Prince. I can still remember clear as day sitting and working on another article when my girl at the time looked up and said “Hey, did you hear Prince died?” to which I instantly snapped “Fuck you! Not funny! We don’t joke about that.”. I wasn’t kidding and unfortunately, neither was she as she nervously showed me the headline on her phone. She knew I was a fan but she didn’t realize the reason there was a Telecaster sitting next to me was because of him.
I stopped what I was doing to triple-check, hoping that it was some sick prank. Nope, it was the real deal, the legend had passed. I was shaking as I tried to roll a joint thinking back to seeing the poster for Purple Rain when I was like six. Even then, before I knew anything about anything, the dude had my attention and respect.
As I got older and started playing music, my admiration only increased by ten fold. It’s easy to love the music but when you play yourself it’s a different experience, same as when you’re a Chef
The thing that a lot of people forget about the guy is that the man suffered. When most people think of Prince, they picture him with a half dozen drop-dead beautiful women. The guy was as renowned as a ladies’ man as he was at being one of the most gifted musicians in the past hundred years yet even he got his heart crushed, a few times from the sounds of it.
Listen to “The Beautiful Ones” or “Nothing compares 2 U”.
You don’t write that kind of thing from second-hand experience and when you listen to the vocals, he’s not trying to hit a note to sell an album, he’s begging for relief from the pain. There’s no pride, there’s no shame, it’s him laying his heart on the line pleading for mercy. You can’t fake that, you just can’t.
The reason the dude was so amazing is that, despite the fact it looked like he was trying to be over the top, he was simply being real and didn’t give a shit what anyone thought of him. He was authentic and the reason for that is that the guy was relentless in his craft. What we saw was the final product and the confidence. What we didn’t see were all the late nights, broken strings, and dozens if not hundreds of riffs and ideas that didn’t stick. He made it look easy because he wasn’t afraid to fail since he understood it was part of the process.
In other words, despite his nearly God-like presence on stage, he was still very much human, with fears and self-doubt just like the rest of us. Unlike most, he wasn’t afraid to embrace his pain and instead was able to harness it and create art from his own truth.
As we take a moment to remember him, we have to be reminded that his music wasn’t the end, but a starting point for the rest of us, a spark to inspire and light a fire and help us remember what love, loss, hope, and fear sounds like when played on a Telecaster by a man who never found his own limitations. If you’re going to flip burgers, put your ass into it, if you’re going to wash dishes throw down and find the groove. If you’re going to do anything, do it with the same passion Price played music with. We owe him that much.