- The cover photo was the actual dusk sky near my apartment in New York City taken on April 21, 2016, the day Prince passed away.
The way you were gone from this world was exactly shocking as the way you came to my life when I was 13 years old. Today around 12:30 p.m. (note: I took 2 days to write this open letter), I was reading news on my iPad while still lying down on my bed. I saw a notification by ABC News on the top of the screen, announcing “Pop music superstar Prince has died at his home in Minneapolis, publicist says”. After my eyes opened wide, I had to read the notification very carefully from left to right and made sure who died. The person who died was indeed Prince. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I hoped that the news was a terrible mistake or your new joke testing this world again. I checked other news. All news sadly confirmed your death. That was one of the most miserable news I’d ever read.
I didn’t know how to react in my mattress with still holding my iPad. I was totally NOT aware of this would happen so suddenly. Didn’t you just release a new album 3 months ago? Didn’t you just have a concert? You put me into absent-minded just like other fans all over the world. That was really called loss. I played “Purple Rain” album after hearing the sad news but I had to stop soon. I listened “Sign O’ Times” and “Diamonds and Pearls” later this evening, but I couldn’t listen until last. I just couldn’t listen to your music even for my own tribute today. I was just sad.
I knew about you right after I got my first American music experience by “Manic Monday” of The Bangles, the song you wrote, when I was 13, as written on “My Music Influence” page (click here to read). That time I was pulled out from the absent-minded by your “Kiss” video after my sensational feeling I listened to a beautiful “Manic Monday”. “Manic Monday” was #2, and “Kiss” was #1. Your video was another way of “sensational” for me. You were half naked with a tight outfit and hairy chest exposed, then sang with the feminine voice and sexually danced around women…I was very freaked out that time. Your video was just too adult and traumatic for a 13 years old innocent boy. I even didn’t know about sex that time! That also means nobody was doing your style in mid-1980’s. Both “Kiss” song and video would still be very sensational even if that was released in 2016.
So you’re one of the first two American artists I knew at 13 years old. Love or hate, you were always the topic of classroom talks. You music and appearance were stimulating for Japanese students, too. Also, you were the artists who composed “Manic Monday”, the first American song I fell in love with and still my most favorite song all the time. This year was my exactly 30th anniversary to know your music. No matter I didn’t like your music before and love your music after growing up, you’re always unforgettable for me.
After turning to my 20’s, I started acknowledging your amazing and unlimited musical talent (I even like “Kiss” now). Probably simply I was getting mature to understand your music world, but there are many other musicians I’m still not interested in after being an adult. Probably it might be the same historical theory that a real intelligence sometimes gets understanding later. You composed and produced all your songs and played all instrumental for all your albums. There are artists who do self-composition and self-production, but there is no such an artist play all instrumentals in albums as well. What I was always impressed was you didn’t trap in self-satisfaction and put top priority on overall album quality first while keeping strong faith on your own music (besides your attempts to leave from Warner Bros). Just like you famously said on Grammy, “Albums still matter. Like books and black lives, albums still matter. Tonight and always”. Many “intelligent” musicians tend to fall into self-satisfaction, which actually made audiences bored, but you didn’t allow that to yourself. Probably you have the ability to view yourself objective while keeping your strong identity. You have an ultimately strong identity and persona. You were known that you always kept your own way, and yes, you were. But I think you didn’t forget what was the most important besides doing what you wanted to do. Entertainment.
The significant example is probably your halftime performance at Super Bowl in 2007 that you knocked out all Americans and beyond. Many TV aired the video as their tribute to you now. You clearly put importance on entertaining everybody rather than expressing yourself first on that performance. You chose only the songs from your originals and covers that all generations would know and less sexual. Nothing from “Parade”, “Sign O’ Times” or “Diamonds and Pearls”, but I think you made the right choice. Your half time show was literary more than perfect. The song choices, song orders, overall performance, your powerful vocal, backband’s play, effects by two female dancers a university march band, and your emotional guitar play and techniques….everything. Plus you were extremely professional and won over the historic heavy “purple” rain. I felt your guts on stage. All those results were showing magic on stage in front of hundred million viewers, and that show became a legend. No artists had ever had better half time shows.
You created one big music culture all by himself. What do people describe you other than a great musician and rock star? Intelligent, innovator, pioneer, revolutionist, genius, legend, hypersexual, controversy, etc…You made new music, then broke your music, and created other progressive music all the time. Always being progressive. You never made us tired of your music. But you always gave us big test and chose the audiences through your neutral sexual appearance, sometimes knight looks dresses and his hypersexual lyric world. Only those passed the process allowed to be your big fans. I failed the process when I was 13 years old, then guess passed when I was in 20’s.
When we reached the destination after the testing process, it was a fantastic world of Prince’s music. While your music was always black, we could enjoy a variety of your music without caring about the genre. Genre! It’s so cheesy and cheap word on your music world! Because no matter what type of music you played, Rock, R&B, funk, psychedelic, groovy dance, dramatic ballad, etc, they were all still Prince, all songs had a clear identity of Prince. You clearly destroyed genre to describe your music. Only thing mattered was quality.
Also, when you played blues, you played real blues touching our emotion. “On The Couch” was one of my most favorite songs from your collection. I think I listened to the song many times when I had arguments with my exes (lol). If you didn’t understand music, you wouldn’t be able to make that song. You were truly a musical genius.
It wasn’t my first time my favorite musicians were gone. Previous cases include Steve Clark of Def Leppard and Brad Delp of Boston. Every death is very sad and equal, and everything has the end. I know that. But your case was just tough like other fans across the world also feel. Too young to die, too sudden, and your creativity even didn’t slow down. You still had full ability to make another legendary album. Although everything had reasons, this case was just too tough. Unfortunately, it is what it is and we have to accept the fact. Many people are celebrating your life and music now. I have the privilege to have my own travel and music blog. I’d like to pay my ultimate respect to your music here.