Indeed he pulled off the most exciting mix of rock, soul and funk since Sly & the Family Stone, and like Sly, made groundbreaking singles as well as albums--a huge accomplishment. Prince's ability to reach so many racial factions of the population is, unfortunately, something that won't been seen again in my lifetime.
I recall seeing Prince on "American Bandstand" in the late '70s--this teenage kid who played every instrument on his records. When I worked at KCTI-AM in Gonzales, Texas, I got to do the soul show one Saturday morning and was marveling at the "Dirty Mind" single, which was in the stack of 45s they had.
In Detroit in the late '80s, FM rock stations sounded like crap, but there was the Electrifying Mojo on WGPR, who played a thrilling mix of black and white, which included Prince, Marvin Gaye, Fleetwood Mac (he was a sucker for the Stevie Nicks song "Seven Wonders") and Prince's buddies the Time.
It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that Prince's "When Doves Cry" (#1 on the pop charts in 1984, keeping Springsteen's "Dancing In the Dark" at #2) has no bass in it!
Prince's albums are filled with blazing imagination, and I loved collecting the hit singles back then that were paired with some of the best non-LP B-sides of the era. Ten years after that, in the '90s, came another obscure mini-masterpiece that I had to pull out this week and crank: "Rock'n'Roll Is Alive (And It Lives In Minneapolis)."
When Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" was all over the radio last year, that frosty--or was it a sizzle, like bacon grease in the pan?--keyboard sound took me back to the era of Morris Day and Prince. It's a little bittersweet hearing young people get excited about that song, which wouldn't be possible without James Brown. And Prince.
Anyway, I am geared for a nice Prince tribute on the radio show Saturday. I won't play Bangles' "Manic Monday" (which Prince wrote under the name "Christopher") but there will be some of the man's masterful work--plus covers by Mitch Ryder, Graham Parker and others. I was in a band called Possession in the '80s and enjoyed playing drums on "When You Were Mine" and "Delirious." That period of time seems to be gone forever.
The world has lost some of its spark without Prince Rogers Nelson.