The swansong of ‘The Artist formerly known as Prince’
There are artists who define a decade and there are others who defy it — every convention, every yardstick, every notion of being a superstar, and carve themselves a place in history. When a musician passes away, there is a sudden posthumous outpouring of love that rivals even the peak of their superstardom a swansong, so to speak. In the case of Prince, there is just a sense of shock and anger at the fact that the legend was taken away too soon.
Prince was found dead on Thursday at his home, Paisley Park, in an elevator, after attempts to revive him by the Carver County Sheriff’s Department failed. He was pronounced dead at 10:07 am. He was 57. Reports say that the star was battling a bad case of flu and was hospitalized last week after his flight had to be landed in Moline, owing to his failing health.
The past few months have been especially tough for the millennial generation with the passing of legends like David Bowie, Glenn Frey of The Eagles, Lemmy from Motorhead and Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots. And, now, Prince.
Prince, if could be described in just one word, is a ‘diva’. Yes, he was a showman, singer, songwriter and an icon of pop, funk, rock and R&B, all rolled into one. The man could do it all – sing, write, drum , play the piano and rip a solo that could floor the crowd. The man was a legend who inspired many, he was an inimitable rock star. Legend has it that once when Eric Clapton was asked what it was like to be the greatest guitar player alive, he responded, “I don’t know. Ask Prince.” Whoa! What a tribute?
The 2004 Rock and Roll hall of fame inductee and 7-time Grammy winner was a strong proponent of artistic freedom. He is known for his tiff with his label, Warner Bros, and his bold moves against them. Prince, in a gutsy move to prove a point, changed his name to an ‘unpronounceable symbol’ and journalists started calling him as ‘The artist formerly known as Prince’, as a mark of challenge to the restrictions imposed on artists by music labels.
My memories of the legend are an inheritance from my father, who often played ‘Little Red Corvette’, one of Prince’s greatest hits, on his over-sized Onida cassette deck, with a peg of whiskey in hand, as a perfect nightcap to a tiring day. The song showed a softer side of a legend. It spoke of life in the fastlane and how everyone feels a bit caught up in the madness sometimes. He found the right mix of sexuality and vulnerability that resonated with a generation. His lyrics of love, fierce independence, assertive sexuality and his simple admonishment, ‘Baby you’re much too fast’, still ring in my ear.
Whether you are a millennial child or a lucky child of one, there’s only one thing that’s on everyone’s mind.
Goodnight sweet prince, thank you for the memories!