Awesome Men Throughout History: Prince
You can say a lot of things about Prince. He’s crazy. He’s a recluse. He’s way too aggressive about his religious beliefs (he’s a Jehovah’s Witness and has been for years). He looks and dresses like a fop from a Richard Sheridan play. He’s a copyright bully who famously wouldn’t let Kevin Smith use one of his songs for a movie, but did “allow” him to film a documentary that Prince has since locked away in his vault, along with hundreds of unreleased songs and music videos.
All of this stuff is true, and yet Prince is still awesome. He’s an astoundingly prolific musician whose creative process and output take the best parts of funk, R&B, soul, rock, and brainless dance pop and combine them into some of the most danceable music of his generation. You can put “Raspberry Beret” on at a college party right now, and drunk freshmen who weren’t even born when it came out will go crazy for it. At his best, Prince’s music is timeless.
And, as we learned from Chappelle’s Show, he is much better at basketball than Charlie Murphy.
Prince, whose real birth name is Prince Rogers, was a musical prodigy who wrote his first song when he was seven and started his musical career in high school, where he played in a band with future Time frontman Morris Day (who is awesome in his own right).
To this day, Prince plays most of the instruments on his albums, which he records and produces himself in his own studio, and will test and tune his band’s entire range of instruments when he’s on tour.
During his career, Prince has released over 30 albums, and has sold over 100 million records worldwide. He also refuses to sell music over the Internet, whether through iTunes or any other online distributor, because of his concerns about piracy and royalties (specifically, him not getting any).
Guys like Prince are a throwback to the days when mainstream musicians were larger-than-life, and he’s certainly retained an air of mystery about him thanks to his habit of baiting, and then denying, the press (for an example of how nuts Prince really is, read this encounter with him in the Mirror).
That said, Prince is never a guy who gets stuck in a rut, or decides that a specific sound is his thing and never deviates from it. His music is always evolving, and that’s the sign of a restless creativity that we don’t really hear in pop music anymore. As much as the music press swoons over Ke$ha and Lady Gaga, their music is a lazy river of dance beats and samples. Prince is the real deal.
I’ll leave you with this clip of Prince performing at the Billboard Music Awards.
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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.