When Prince sang “My name is Prince and I am funky. My name is Prince the one and only.” he was not kidding. When Doves Cry, the lead single from Purple Rain, was a huge pop hit when I was a kid. I probably heard 1999 at a roller rink before that, but that’s not what sticks out. Any way, I didn’t quite get what Prince was up to at the time. I was probably in 5th grade at a Catholic elementary school. I remember Purple Rain the movie, not really appealing to me as a 10 year old kid. It wasn’t meant to. That stuck with me, and while I liked some songs, it gave me an early impression of Prince as a fluffy pop star that girls liked.
A few years later, Judas Priest and Metallica would be playing a lot on my Walkman. CDs were popular, and after saving leftover lunch money to buy used CDs at a store in my hometown on a regular basis, they offered me a job. At The Compact Disc Broker in Roselle Park, some time after Prince’s The Black Album was pulled from being released, there were bootleg copies going around and one of the managers at the store filled me in on Prince’s music genius. (BTW – An original promo copy of The Black Album recently broke a price record on Discogs, selling for $15,000) I began to appreciate Prince, but at the time, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock ruled my ears for many years.
Senior year of High School, I worked at a different music store that I was a frequent patron off. The Music Hall in Westfield, across from The Gap, where I also worked. At The Music Hall I was introduced to Funk music. My good friend Ed schooled me in James Brown and introduced me to a local NYC funk band called The Authority. They were an incredibly tight band, with an unstoppable rhythm section, fierce guitar and sax, and a mesmerizing lead vocalist/percussionist. They had some strong original songs, and would also cover the likes of Funkadelic, James Brown, and Prince. We’d go see The Authority at The Wetlands in NYC many, many times, which lead to a personal Funk obsession.
I was struck by his guitar playing, but the more I checked out, the more I discovered Prince could do it all. Sing, dance, entertain, write songs, scream, form bands, offend people, make people cry, make people wonder, and play guitar like a MF. Miles Davis said “James Brown—his father took him when he was young, he got on the stage and danced with him. He has that, he has Jimi Hendrix, and Marvin Gaye. He combines all that, all the time. That’s what he is. And his stage persona, that’s Charlie Chaplin.”
Listening to Prince this past week, I’m reminded of the immense talent he was in this world. Sadly, it’s been a year since Prince is gone, but his music and influence live on. Prince and The Revolution really showed off what it is to be Funky. Good God.
Oh yeah, and this!