I’ll be honest here. At school, I had mates who were rabid Prince fans. But I wasn’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike him, I just didn’t hang on everything he did. I think that’s because, in my teens at least, I had a strangely scattergun approach to musical preference and didn’t fit in with any of the sub-cultures like the Duranies, or the indie kids busy with C86. But that, I suppose, was the great wonder of Prince: you didn’t have to like everything, but you couldn’t NOT like something. And that’s how it was with me.
The first Prince thing thing I ever heard was 1999. And I loved it. I thought he was utterly batshit, but in a great way. I didn’t buy the albums but, from time to time another killer song would hit you. So it was with songs like Little Red Corvette, Raspberry Beret, Purple Rain and the wonders of Let’s Go Crazy. And that’s before you even consider stuff like I Feel For You, and his pseudonymous moonlighting for the Bangles
By the time mates were waxing lyrical about Sign O The Times and Lovesexy, I was still agnostic, liking some but not all. But again, you find that over time there’s more and more stuff to like, simply because he’s been around and done so much (like that killer Batman soundtrack). You cannot help absorb the work of a man who has rewritten a lot of the so-called rules about being a star in the modern age.
As you get older, you start to look back and realise how lucky you are to have lived through a time of such explosive creativity and virtuosity. The 80s has been lambasted as a decade abandoned by taste, but amongst the dross, so much great stuff came out of it. And that he was in the right place, so that we could all see it. The body of work is almost beyond belief. There’s a stunning clip of Prince at a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame show, playing on While My Guitar Gently Weeps. It’s amazing, not least because he is doing this on a stage packed with some pretty stellar talent (and they ain’t slackin’) . And he just shreds it. I’ll remember him this way: the consummate musician’s musician, and a man from another place entirely, who we only got on loan for a while