I don't usually do this. But this one has kicked me in the gut.
All the others - even Bowie - have been sad and shocking, but not affected me personally like this one.
I've had a little cry and want to put forth my own personal tribute to a man who has been a God to me my whole life.
Ever since at the age of 6, when I heard a Prince mega-mix tape that my father had in the car, I was hooked.
At 13, I saved up every single penny of pocket money I could (there wasn't much) to relieve the second-hand record store up the street of their entire Prince stash. Whenever new Prince came in, the record store guy would call me up and tell me he was holding it and I had first dibs.
Purple Rain was the first ever album I bought with my own money.
Sign 'O' the Times, Parade, Around the World in a Day, 1999, Graffiti Bridge, Batman, For You and Lovesexy were the soundtrack to my teens. I could survive shitty times as long as I knew I could retreat into my earphones at the end of the day and know Prince was there.
I had the pleasure of seeing him in concert three times - twice at Sheffield Arena in the 90s and once at the O2 a few years back.
I even spent a whole year at college at the end of the 90s pretending to be him (don't ask).
A world without Prince is not something I ever forecast having to deal with so soon.
it's easy to shrug it off and say 'singer dies - oh well'. But that would be a remarkably short-sighted view. It was also remarkably short-sighted of that doyenne of daytime television Eamonn Holmes to claim that Prince was more of a 'woman's artist' (as if that's a bad thing).
Truth is the death of Prince affects all of us. Even if you don't know it yet.
For a start, he redefined the parameters of what it was to be male. 'Flamboyancy' was taken and claimed with no fear. There was no longer a need to adhere to a purely heterodox form of masculinity in order to be taken seriously as an artist or as a man.
He also tore the race card right down the middle...it may have been conscious, or it may have been the fact that Prince never saw the contingent biological factors that form the human psyche as a barrier to anything - dream or reality. Here was a Minneapolis boy from a broken home whose enduring dedication to his home city, its people and music scene that provided inspiration for countless people who came from just the same background as himself.
Perhaps his biggest contribution, and the one that inspired me to write this piece is his contribution to women. On two levels.
Here was an artist completely at home surrounded by talented female musicians. It was never in a lecherous way. For a man of such overt sexuality his relationship with his female band members was that of a mentor so secure in himself that he was able to let the ladies shine. There's a queue of female musicians around the block ready to swear testament to this.
But the most important thing for me in looking at the social importance of Prince Rogers Nelson was here was a man in the mainstream who taught women that it was okay to be in full command of your sexuality. In a world of conflicting public attitudes towards the liberation of the female, here was Prince in the public eye making it clear that It was okay for women to enjoy sex and for women to be strong and own their sexual destiny.
Not for Prince was the 'leave the ladies in the dressing room until they're needed and ready to serve me' aura of Jagger et al.
It was organic, orgasmic and liberating.
And I believe we are going to mourn the loss of this influence for a very, very long time.
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