Prince. Damn. I still can not process it. While I didn’t know him personally, his death felt very personal as his music was the soundtrack to my life. Between choreographing cheerleading routines in my basement to “Computer Blue” to a failed shutdown attempt to be Apollonia for Halloween (due to good parenting), I lived, breathed and slept the Minneapolis sound.
At 10 years old I read the trade magazines…Billboard, Black Beat. Yes, here I was this very pasty white kid carrying around Black Beat. I was the first kid in my school to even know that Prince was coming out with a movie. I wrote about it in my school column “Rock and Roll Music News” long before the mainstream media had it on full blast. Yes, the kids in my school found out about Purple Rain from me. A lot of my classmates didn’t believe me when I told them Prince would have a movie…then months later it was everywhere. That felt pretty satisfying.
At 10 years old, I knew about every protege, associate, ex girlfriend and rivalry. Chick the bodyguard. Jill Jones. Vanity leaving right before production and Apollonia stepping in. Dez Dickerson from the 1999 era would be leaving to pursue his own band, The Modernaires, while Wendy Melvoin would fill the slot and become Prince’s right hand woman. I just couldn’t figure out who Jamie Starr (referenced in D.M.S.R) was… (it was a Prince alias).
Again, I was 10.
I was obsessed. It was not just about my favorite artist, but a full on movement. A sound. A collective Purple consciousness. While I came to know and love all of Prince’s lineups… New Power Generation, Third Eye Girl, the lineups between Prince, For You, Controversy and 1999… I was absolutely obsessed with The Revolution. Bobby Z, Brown Mark, Wendy and Lisa and “That guy with The Dr. Mask, Dr. Fink”. The style, the groove… it was everything.
Although I touch on this story in my book “Confessions of a Bad, Ugly Singer”… I’ll tell it in a little more detail. It was 2007. edibleRed had just been featured on MTV “Buzzworthy”. Myspace was HOT (RIP Myspace!), and suddenly there was this actual line of communication between strangers on the internet that actually did not feel that weird.
I was giving an interview on IMC Radio to promote the single and saw that Dr. Fink from The Revolution was going to be on the next week. I flipped. I could not believe that I had gotten to a place in my music career where I would actually be featured on the same platform. I found Matt Fink on Myspace and sent the most dorky awkward fan girl-y message ever, never thinking he would actually write back.
Later that day, he not only returned my message, but he had checked out my music. He loved the “Hey Ya” cover and asked me to call him.
We talked for a couple of hours and talked about possibly collaborating on a track. He told me about the Minneapolis scene, his wife (who is a hairdresser) and kids. Working as a session cat in Minneapolis… and of course Prince. He sent me an autographed CD of his new music. Then the other line rang, and he attended to it.
“That was Wendy and Lisa, I told them I’d call them back”.
Wow. To just have that brief moment with a band I loved and respected on such a deep level was such a gift. Now that Prince is no longer with us, all the stories are coming out. Prince was not just a creator, he was a consumer. It seems he was not shy about reaching out to those who inspired him. I’m glad I wasn’t either.