“There’s this kid, hanging out at Cookhouse Studios, he can do it all… ”
That was the first I heard about Prince Rogers Nelson.
This mysterious force, almost otherworldly, walking the same streets, frequenting some of the same venues, then exploding into super-stardom but never letting it change him. He was always, and probably will always be, the standard by which all other Twin Cities-based musical acts will be judged by (Dylan only lived in Minneapolis for less than a year.) I kept almost crossing paths with him. I worked with his Purple Rain Drummer just before he joined The Revolution, and worked in a venue the day after a scene from that movie was shot there. He did appear once at a venue I was working. We didn’t speak. He went on to bigger and better things, but never really left the area where he grew up.
In this era of changing sex roles and struggles for empowerment, Prince was a pioneer who never preached—he just did it: championing women in his bands, androgyny in fashion and lifestyle, even his numerous forays into weirdness of various sorts, he just did it on his own terms. Before his legendary Super Bowl half-time show, a nervous television producer asked him if he was “O.K.” with the rain that was drenching the stadium. Prince simply said, “Can you make it rain harder?”
In this era of disposable corporate music, Prince was one artist who could really play, anyone who performed with him had to rise to his level.