Saturday, June 7, 2008

Happy 50th Birthday to Prince!

June 7th 2008 marks the 50th birthday of Prince Rogers Nelson, the musical maestro who has been sharing his love of music with the world for over 30 years. To say that I am a fan of his library of releases is an understatement. My iPod contains 349 songs from over 28 albums of his and his various bands (the Revolution, the New Power Generation, etc.). And that does not include the songs he's penned for other artists like the Family, Sinead O'Connor, the Bangle, Paula Abdul, Sheena Easton, Stevie Nicks, Sheila E., Tevin Campbell, George Clinton, Appolonia, Vanity 6, the Time, etc.

I first discovered his music while in the later years of high school. It was 1982 when his double-album 1999 was first released. The videos were popular on the then-just-starting MTV. Songs like the title track and Little Red Corvette were all over the airwaves. I got this on vinyl and soon, from listening to the local Fredonia State college radio, I also discovered his 1981 release Controversy. I quickly sought out this album too at Record Giant, the local record store in town.

I was hooked.

From that point forward, I bought every release of his as soon as they came out. No waiting to see what would be a hit. Nope. Not me. He had proven himself to me before and I just knew I'd love every release. And I did for decades since.

The first time I saw him perform live in concert was the Purple Rain tour in 1985. That was my sophmore year in college and one of the girls on the same dorm floor was into his music too. She and I drove from Rochester to Buffalo to catch the show. It was fantastic. I didn't get to see him in concert again until 1988's Lovesexy tour. This time my concert companion was this girl I was dating who was a bigger Prince fan than myself (she made a cake and celebrated his birthday each year). We drove three hours from Raleigh to Charlotte for the show. Again, another great concert. The third and most recent time I got to see him in concert was during the mid-90's in an outdoor show in Raleigh. Again, an outstanding night of music.

What I love the most about his music is the variety. He constantly changes things up, and each album is different than the last. Sometimes there is more of a jazz influence. Other times there is a heavy funk base. There is the open, in your face sexuality to the lyrics - especially on his earlier music when he was younger. I never found it offensive; it was expressive of his thoughts and feelings. Somtimes it was political. Sometimes it was philosophical. And sometimes it was just about getting the groove on. He'll always hold a high ranking spot in my music library.

So, raise a glass of purple passion and drink a toast to a true music innovator!


Michael O'Connell said...

Wow. We're OLD.

You'll be quite pleased if Tim and I ever get around to putting up a Nice Guy strip I've written called "Too Old", dealing with the guys trying to figure out some Prince lyrics. Going to have to get to that one just for you, sir.

Martin Maenza said...

Mike, I'd love to see that Nice Guy strip!