Friday, April 22, 2016

Baby, I'm a Star

Damn, man. It seems like the only times I've done non-show posts lately is when somebody iconic dies. We've lost some big-time musical influences in the last five months or so: Lemmy, Bowie and now Prince. This latest death is particularly shocking because Prince was only 57. The circumstances of his death are still shaking out, but it appears he'd been ailing for some time.

Like Lemmy and Bowie, Prince was another iconic artist I've never seen play live. Not sure why, really. Inexcusable on my part. Especially given what an incredible showman he was.

I first became aware of Prince in 1982 when "Little Red Corvette" was released off the album 1999. I was a defiantly hard rock-loving teen nerd who was stuck in a town with shitty radio stations. Prince brought a rock element to pop/R&B that was refreshing to someone who hated most top 40 music. Between that song and the title track, I found pop music I could tolerate when I wasn't listening to Rush or Led Zeppelin or Ozzy. By the time Purple Rain was released, I was firmly in the metalhead camp but still impressed at the sick-ass guitar solo at the end of "Let Go Crazy." A few years later, I was in college and broadening my musical horizons. I hadn't purchased any Prince albums to that point, but I picked up the 45 of "Sign O' the Times," which was getting played on rock stations like Boston's WBCN. The first Prince album I actually bought was the Batman soundtrack in '89, which I don't think I've listened to since that year. Although a year or so earlier, I bought a bootleg cassette of The Black Album, which to that point was unavailable any other way. Since then, I've amassed several of his classic albums.

Throughout the years and the various personas and eccentricities, Prince never lost his ability to write a great song and put on great performances. And even though he tried to limit the amount of footage of live shows online, I've been able to see a fair amount of concert videos from throughout his career. I've appreciated him that way since I never got to actually see him in concert.

There are some who shake their heads at the outpouring of grief on social media when someone iconic like a rock star dies. Sure, I didn't know the guy, but it's always been a sad thing when a musician I've admired passes away. I still remember how disappointed I was in 1980 when John Bonham died. I had just become a Zeppelin fan in the last year and his death was such a bummer, especially when it meant the band was breaking up. Same thing applied to John Lennon, Randy Rhoads, Phil Lynott, Joe Strummer, John Entwhistle, Kurt Cobain, Ronnie James Dio, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cliff Burton, Gary Moore and many more. We're at a point where many of our rock stars are approaching or in senior citizen age, so there will be more deaths. But thankfully, we'll always have the music.

08.Prince.-.1999 from Mauricio Onate on Vimeo.

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