I’m fairly sure Prince would be far from impressed with my present dishevelled state of grief – smudged purple eyeliner around the peepholes, my torn Piano and Microphone T-shirt falling off one shoulder teamed with Eiffel tower print pyjama pants, and sipping the last of a bottle of Mumm Rouge Champagne while listening to his illustrious music played marathon style on Double J and surrounded with tear-stained tissues and newspapers – hungry, only to discover more. Searching for that article, or that newsfeed online that announces: we’ve made a mistake world – Prince is fine – the bloody prankster. But instead I learn the heart-breaking news that his body was recently cremated. It is real. Images streaming in of Prince’s friends like Sheila E and Larry Grahame decked in a purple suit entering Paisley Park for a private memorial service. I am hollow with sadness. As I gaze out the window to the North Sydney skyline with Prince singing Adore in the background…I wonder, why aren’t I at Paisley Park receiving one of those gorgeous round purple boxes with Prince memorabilia given to 300 fans by his beautiful staff, AND more importantly, will I ever enjoy anything more in my life than attending a Prince concert? Or fantasising of the day I would meet him and we would become best friends and I could move into Paisley Park with the pups (and hub –he could do maintenance). My heart is heavy.
I first fell hard for Prince as an angsty teenager. I had discovered the Purple Rain album when I was 14 and was going through my first love blues. As I was going out with a 21 year old at the time (yuh, I know), I was grounded A LOT. Which meant, much time holed up in the aqua painted walls (soon to be repainted lilac) of my Eastwood bedroom, performing my own interpretive dance in front of the mirrored wardrobe to When Doves Cry – MY FAVOURITE SONG at the time. My next Prince album was Sign O the Times. The 21-year-old boyfriend wrote all these love notes on the sleeves of the double album. I eventually painted over both of them when we broke up with the initials of my next boyfriend. Lovesexy was probably my favourite album, and I would always be transcended by the sounds of Ana Stasia as soon as the needle of my Sony record player touched the vinyl. Unfortunately, and typically of that era, I had a MASSIVE fight with my father, and he broke the album in pieces in front of my eyes. It killed me. I wish Mum and Dad had kept my record collection like I asked…but it somehow became lost in one of their epic moves. It would bring me some type of happiness if I could now clutch that old Sign O the Times and Purple Rain album close to my chest and momentarily relive the times Prince transformed my suburban, teenage life into another stratosphere. He sang to me, and the world already feels different without him.
My first Prince concert was in Paris in ‘92 with my French boyfriend Maxime. I don’t remember a lot of it, but I do recall that Maxime was being an absolute punish, who throughout the whole concert, rolled joints, chain-smoked and muttered “C’est de la merde…” That relationship was never going to last.
Fast-forward to 2012 when I attended THE Prince concert with my dear friend, and mad Prince fan Nadja. This was certainly always going to be an event; most things are with Nadja. She had already borrowed a cobalt blue sequined trench coat from her designer friend that was to momentarily cover her black lace body suit, AND conceal the long stemmed roses that she had prepared with notes “Marry me Prince” that she would be throwing on stage. Of course, this operation was not without the necessary rose-throwing practice that we did in Roseville Park hours prior to THE CONCERT. One must know if pressed against a stage looking up at their icon, if said roses would make it to said icon. So, not only was she able to get us in the cocktail area of the concert on a table in front of the Today show peeps and James Packer, she got several roses on stage with that precision throwing, AND she was also selected by Prince’s back-up singers who scoured the cocktail area for suitable candidates, to dance on stage with Prince. Najd in her see-through lace body suit was a no brainer. But the funny thing is – while all the other dancing fans were following Prince around the stage as he sang and played the guitar – I could not see Nadj. All was revealed on Monday on Nova when the radio peeps spoke of “the girl in the lace body suit” who didn’t dance with Prince yet did her own dance at a far corner of the stage before deciding that she’d had enough, and, picking up one of the roses that she had thrown on the stage previously, placed it on his piano, before making her exit. Yep, that’s Nadja.
My next concert was with my friend Meli. We both couldn’t really afford the $370 tickets to Prince’s final concert in Sydney on that very tour, but we knew WE HAD TO GO. We nabbed these tickets at about 5pm that evening. They were not on the floor, but very good seats regardless. He opened with Purple Rain and it was beyond amazing. After probably 6 encores, where we had clapped our hands near off their wrists, the house lights came on. It was a done deal; the Prince concert was over and security was ushering people to the exits. I felt that it wasn’t over. Prince had more…I could feel it, and so did not move from my seat. Soon, the remaining crowd cheered deliriously as Prince, the Twinz and back up singers returned to the stage, this time with Prince in his comfy platforms and more casual attire, took to the stage, and slammed several more glorious songs with gusto. The house lights were on the whole time and we couldn’t believe our good fortune – everyone went nuts.
When my bud Lucy tipped me off that Prince would be releasing tickets to concerts in February, I nearly lost my mind with excitement, but then pure panic set in. These concerts had strict restrictions regarding ticket sales that Prince requsted in order that true fans, not just industry people, could experience these intimate concerts, and that scalpers couldn’t profit of reselling of tickets.
As it turned out, my commitment (I declined from risking it online and went straight to the Opera House hours before their release) and that of my beautiful friend Renata, who was scared of what would have been my mental state had I missed out on tickets, secured tickets to both shows at the Opera House on Saturday February 20th 2016.
It was one of the best days of my life. Not only did I find THE MOST perfect purple caped dress, in my size and on sale, but we had VIP seats (thanks Renata), which included a pre-concert cocktail party where we drank Piper Champagne and had canapés in a perfectly purple carpeted area of the Opera House – my favourite building in the world. It was SO RIGHT. When we were ushered to our seats, and discovered they were front row and centre stage, I nearly spontaneously combusted. It was beyond. Prince was literally arm’s length away from me, and he was absolutely breath taking, delivering the most incredible performance of all time. I had tears in my eyes…it was so amazing. And then I did it all over again with hub at the second concert that night. Mark, the hub, was not a Prince fan. This pissed me off. How could you not be a Prince fan? I managed to talk him around in to joining me for this concert, but did call him an ingrate for most of that week leading up to – hello $400 Prince tickets at the Opera House (ingrate). So, to see his face light up when Prince took to the stage and to gush when he played Purple Rain, a song he had whined about having to hear daily leading up to the concert, was very special. He has been a Prince fan ever since.
These memories will last a lifetime as will his music. But I know I will never experience the wonder of another artist that comes even close to Prince’s talent, his passion, his genius, his charisma, his generosity to his fans and other artists, his mastery on a stage and his thirst for always learning and evolving as a musician. And I think this has something to do with the fact he was SO much more than just the music (which was the sound track to my life). Prince lived by his beliefs; he was a vegan, he cared about the welfare of animals, he chose not to support man-made governments and like myself was a Jehovah’s Witness, he was a quiet philanthropist and was passionate in contributing to his community, yet he was humble and didn’t seek glory for his charitable works. What a crashing end to an era of brilliance and beautiful music…. I am heartbroken.
Well, my purple friend, I look forward to when we meet, and you can jump off risers in your heels and skin tight high-waisted pants, land in the splits and then spring up and twirl around, grabbing that mike like it’s 1999, without an ounce of pain and with the vigour that was always in your heart. (Rev:21.3,4)