Prince died April 21st, 2016. He was one of the few musical prodigies of our time that had accomplished so much and influenced so many people from around the world, leaving a legacy of music, fashion and performance that I doubt we will ever seen again. Along with the great David Bowie, the music world once again grieves but celebrates the power of music. At the young age of 20 our content manager, writer and photographer, Georgia was a big fan of Prince, we asked Georgia to share her story on what Prince means to her. It shows just how music can cross generations and bury itself in to souls, both young and old.
It was 2008, around the time I started to find my feet in music. On our way to a sports carnival, in the back of a mini-van filled with my school friends, Purple Rain started playing on the radio and my body froze. What was this? The guitar solo was flawless, the vocals were angelic, it sounded like hearts were actually breaking, whoever this was, it was my mission to find out. I shouted to my teacher driving the bus, she replied flippantly “It’s Prince, darling! Way too old for you”. My dad had started teaching me guitar and even though I wasn’t talented in the slightest, I was hard-working. I found the sheet music online the next day and printed it off, shoved it in my backpack and for the next few weeks, I sat in the music room at lunch until I had nailed that guitar solo. And so it began.
It was August 2013, I had just left my job and felt unsure of where to turn. Music was always a comfort, so I started watching a lot of documentaries, old films and specials on musicians. I spent hours upon hours on YouTube, watching interviews and behind the scenes footage from Live Aid, some MTV Unplugged sessions and music videos with terrible visual effects. It was so enthralling, I completely forgot about my lack of existence outside of the internet. My obsession with icons began early but it fully blossomed in the Spring of 2013 and hasn’t stopped since. Finding legendary artists, the best of the best, greatest drummers to ever live, craziest performance in Madison Square Gardens, cult musicians with followers like keen disciples. Prince was who I gravitated to most, his humble attitude towards his undeniable talent, he was fashion forward and bold in a way I hadn’t seen before, he could sit quietly at a piano and make you weep with just a few notes or command the stage with a face-melting guitar solo. He was a god.
It was February 9th 2016, my sister and I were sitting at a table in IKEA with our half-eaten Swedish food. In one hand, I had my iPhone with the pre-sale ticket page open, in the other hand was my iPad with the same page and my sister had her phone on the table in front of me waiting as well. When Prince releases that he’s touring Australia next week, you cannot be prepared enough, you need to have as many options as possible. My heart is beating at a solid 133bpm from nervousness, my fingers are shaking and my breath is shallow. Seconds feel like minutes, my eyes focus on the ticking clock and bam … tickets are on sale. Refresh the page, select the venue and time, seating doesn’t matter as long as I’m there, my phone and iPad have failed but my sisters phone has gone through, make payment, waiting, waiting, waiting and confirmation “Congratulations! You are going to Prince! Check your email with your tickets!”. I restrain myself from bursting into happy tears, instead I squeal so loud that everybody looks at me. I’m glowing for the rest of the day and I can’t help but tell everyone that I got a ticket. This was it.
It was February 16th 11.06pm 2016, Prince had left the stage and the crowd was waiting anxiously for him to return. Applause was thunderous, a standing ovation from every person in the crowd, the kaleidoscope visual still spinning on the back screen, candles still glowing and that grand piano proudly middle stage. I had been looking online at his previous set lists to see if he was going to play Purple Rain, I paid A LOT of money to see him in person but I knew what I really wanted to see. He had these runners on, the kind that kids wear to keep them entertained, with glowing lights that flash when you take a step. The flash of crimson popped out from side stage and he floated back to his piano stool, crowd still cheering. Earlier in the night, I had been chatting to those around me (most of them were also there alone, wanting to have a special night for themselves) and we discussed Prince. What he meant to us, what we wanted to hear and they all knew Purple Rain was my song. He hit the first chord and then that chord hit me. The next chord came and we all knew he was gracing us with that classic song. The happy audience members around me starting nudging me and clapping at me, all the while I starting tearing up. Minutes passed and Prince was finished, taking one last victory lap of the stage and finally leaving once and for all. My face was puffy and dripping wet from tears. Famously, the crowd stayed upright, loudly cheering for 20 minutes afterwards, knowing he wasn’t coming back but thanking him for what he had given us that night. I called my mum in between gasps, “He played Purple Rain, I can die happy”, a statement I never knew was going to hurt so much.
It was April 22nd 7.06am (34seconds) 2016, awoken by the opening of my bedroom door and my mum starting with her soft tone “Honey … Prince is dead, he died … I’m so sorry”. It ended how it began, my heart stopping suddenly and forgetting to breathe. Denial: the first stage of loss and grief, he couldn’t have passed away because he’s totally fine, came out of hospital the other day. Anger: the second stage, NO! WHY IS THIS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW? Bargaining: the third stage, if he was treated properly then this wouldn’t have been the case. Depression: the fourth stage, which consisted of my entire day. Around every corner was a Prince tribute, on the radio and chalkboard in cafes, TVs at Flinders St Station and electronic billboards with #valeprince, forget going on Facebook or Twitter because you can’t escape the purple photos. Business meetings and train rides, I held back my tears all day, trying to remain calm. After a long day, I came home and blasted Purple Rain with headphones on and hysterical crying. I had lost someone important to me and hadn’t given myself the time to assess the damage. Sometimes you just have to let go and feel the pain. I’m currently working on stage 5: Acceptance.
When I left my life behind and flew to the USA all alone, Raspberry Beret calmed my nerves before takeoff. The train ride home from school was always the best time to listen to When Doves Cry, especially in winter when it was stormy and grim, I’d jump around in the rain. My guitar dreams came true when I accidentally stumbled upon a piece from PLECTRUMELECTRUM and I couldn’t stop playing it. Little Red Corvette became my favourite dance tune when those high school parties had a little more taste and a lot more volume. We all have our own Prince memories, whether they’re as poignant as mine or even if it’s just playing Kiss on the radio while on your daily commute to work. There’s not a single person who hasn’t been affected by Prince’s music, his style, his hilarious Sesame Street appearance. There is no escaping the effect he had on the world, it’s around every corner. Musicians have albums inspired him, fashion designers have clothing lines dedicated to his flamboyance, architecture with paisley patterns and Minnesota, the proud home of our Prince.
Acceptance for me is hard, I won’t lie. It hurts to know that such a legend has been taken from us but what we have to do is celebrate. Celebrate his life and salute the time we had, commemorate his nonpareil music by playing it for our children, remembering his 2007 Super Bowl show (dubbed the greatest Half Time performance of all time), acknowledge his unique style, that he was a trail blazer in fashion and music and equality and sexuality, pay homage to the man who was. He stood for something we all needed, right when we needed it most. He was bold and eccentric, he was one the greatest musicians of all time on every instrument he picked up, he was adored by family and friends and colleagues and roadies and carpenters in Europe and waitresses in Argentina and a 13 year old school girl in the back of a mini-van on the way to a sports carnival.
Today, we say thank you. For your outstanding work in music and what you represented in the world. You transcended just Rock N Roll, you were bigger than all of us and you still are. You will live on in Paisley Park, you will live on in our dreams, you will live on in tribute tattoos and buildings lit purple, you will live on in the wild world of the internet and you will live on me. Prince Rogers Nelson, thank you. We love you. May you rest in eternal peace.