In 1992 agents for Prince let it be known that the artist would be represented by a symbol instead of by the name Prince, and they sent the media a package containing a strange new symbol in clipart form as well as on a disc. The media began referring to him as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
I remember opening the mail one morning to find that very press packet attempting to explain the new symbol, and directing newspapers to use it instead of the name Prince. I imagine my reaction was the same as most editors: I shook my head and tossed the press kit into a basket on the corner of my desk.
Death of a musical icon
It was Thursday, April 21, 2016. As I was monitoring the news that morning BBC was the first to announce that musical icon Prince was dead.
Information was sketchy, but the BBC did a fine job of detailing the artist’s background.
A half hour later CNN announced his death. Other Networks were slow to follow, but eventually the story broke throughout the day. No one had many details at that early stage, and now, more than a month later, few details of his death are solid.
It wasn’t long before so many fans as well as non-fans realized how many ways his music permeated society and modern culture. Aside from his own hits, he had penned a huge amount of music for other performers, as well as mentored and promoted his numerous proteges.
“He would wear high heels, and steal your girl.” — from NBC’s Today show.
News of Prince’s death and his accomplishments grew in intensity within the next seven days. Stories of this flamboyant man added to his legend. It seemed everyone had a Prince story. It soon became obvious that this musical genius touched many more lives than anyone realized, and the outpouring of grief and mourning was amazing. So many people remembered doing something significant in their lives while a Prince song provided the background: One news anchor reminisced that he kissed his first girl while “Raspberry Beret” played.
Best quote: “He would wear high heels, and steal your girl.” — from NBC’s Today show.
Surprisingly, anchors on sports programs had an enormous appreciation for Prince. It was noted that Prince attended a Golden State Warriors basketball game this season, fashionably late and with a beautiful woman on his arm. As a photo of the event came across the screen, it was noted that he carried a shining scepter, of course.
Local sports anchors noted how many Prince songs were played at athletic events, and many highlighted the fact that during halftime of Super Bowl XLI, Prince played “Purple Rain” during a rain storm. He earned a large amount of respect for performing in the downpour on that particular day in Miami, and many believe it was the best Super Bowl halftime performance.
The greatest tale was told by a guest on ESPN’s “He Said She Said.” Here’s how the story goes: James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince all performed at the same concert one night. First, James Brown did his thing, and set the tone as if to pass the baton of soul royalty to Michael Jackson. Then Jackson performed and brought the house down. Prince had the unenviable task of following those two larger-than-life performers. Before he went on, Prince asked a muscular 6-4 bouncer for a favor. Next thing they knew, Prince was being carried down the aisle and up the steps of the stage, riding on the back of that huge security man. The crowd went crazy, and apparently Prince’s performance did not disappoint.
On a personal note: I first heard a Prince song on college radio. The on-air student deejays were going gaga about this new talent. AND he played EVERY instrument on his new album, they said. This is a time when Michael Jackson was already an established pop celebrity, and Rick James was the current bad boy of funk. But now the deejays were sold on this guy named Prince. “He makes Michael Jackson look like a school girl,” they said. In many ways they were right.