Why There Will Never Be Another Like Prince

Ethan Miller/Getty
Ethan Miller/Getty

Prince Rogers Nelson was—and still is—the gold standard of artistry. A brilliant guitarist, bassist, arranger, and producer, he was more than a visionary. He was an entity unto himself.Prince’s death gutted music fans everywhere. The iconic musician became synonymous with music over a four decade-long career that challenged convention and championed freedom—and he became a benchmark for any artist who believes themselves driven by creativity and unwilling to relinquish control. But with his passing, there is something that needs to be stated, once and for all. Whatever your preferred genre of music—you need to understand something:

We just lost the greatest recording artist of all time.

The world is devastated, shocked, and stunned. The biggest icons in music, sports, and even the president of the United States reacted with sorrow and disbelief when it was announced that Prince had died. But this is more than just the death of a popular artist. We lost the gold standard for artistry. We lost the man who was the living, breathing embodiment of everything you could want an artist to be.

Prince’s humble beginnings in Minneapolis, living home-to-home after his parents’ divorce as he began writing and playing his own music around the city, was shrouded in secrecy and half-truths for much of his career. But his father forged his love of music and his mother encouraged his passions; and he began working with childhood friend Andre Anderson (aka Andre Cymone), eventually landing a management deal with businessman Owen Husney and a subsequent contract with Warner Bros.

His debut, For You, would be recorded in L.A. and released to little fanfare in 1979—although “Soft and Wet” would become an R&B hit. Prince was more fully formed on his self-titled sophomore album, moving past the futuristic disco-influenced funk of his debut for a more dense combination of funk, hard rock, and pop. It set the stage for what would be a decade of dominance.

In the 1980s, he released music at a relentless pace: nine official Prince studio albums, two releases from his funk-jazz side project Madhouse, three albums from the Time (which featured mostly Prince’s production and playing), the lone 1985 album from his Time follow-up The Family, various recordings by MAZARATI, another side project—plus bootlegs like The Black Album and scattered recordings from the abandoned, original 1987 Crystal Ball project. It’s an insane amount of content from an artist at his commercial peak—at which Prince certainly was from 1980 to 1989. In the midst of all that music, he was still touring, released two feature films (Purple Rain and Under the Cherry Moon) and managed to shepherd the career or contribute to hits by artists like The Bangles, Sheena Easton, Stevie Nicks, and Sheila E.

His list of musical collaborators has become a famous part of his legend; Andre Cymone, Doctor Fink, Bobby Z, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, Dez Dickerson, Sheila E., Eric Leeds, Tommy Barberella, Rosie Gaines, Sonny T, Ida Neilson, Hannah Welton, and a host of others all contributed to Prince’s tremendous body of work at various points in his career. But there was never any doubt that his vision and creativity was what drove his art and performances. Prince was an entity unto himself and anyone who worked with him was pulled into his orbit.

He started the ’90s on just as much of a tear. He released the movie Graffiti Bridge and its accompanying soundtrack, the hugely successful Diamonds and Pearls album and Love Symbol Album within a two-year stretch. His battles with Warner Bros. famously curtailed his output after 1993, as he dropped his famous moniker for an unpronounceable symbol and released the music he wanted to release—as his former label churned out leftovers like Come and Chaos & Disorder. By 1996, he was finally free from Warner—and in true Prince fashion, his first release, the pointedly-titled Emancipation, was a triple disc, quasi-concept album. He followed it two years later with another triple album, named Crystal Ball but different in conception than the aborted project from the late 1980s. His commercial standing had slipped, but his artistic output never wavered and he didn’t seem to mind that Prince singles weren’t dominating the radio anymore. Prince’s muse was his music.

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Source: The Daily Beast | STEREO WILLIAMS

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