Friday, June 24, 2016

A Tribute To Prince Rogers Nelson

This is hard to believe that we are now living in a time when the greats of music in the 1980s: Michael, Whitney, David and Prince Rogers Nelson, are no longer with us. When my brother opened the door of his room and stated, "I have bad news", I would never thought that the news would be that Prince had died. At first, I was in denial and I checked my Facebook account and when I saw the news, I cried. I have to be honest, I am not a hardcore Prince fanatic and never will be. I had time to be one. I am a casual fan of Prince and I am one of those fans that likes the hits. However, I also had a distaste for him because of the comments that he stated about Michael.I soon learned that as time went on, he and Michael were friends. When I got older, I got to really into his music and watched his movies. After the death of Prince, I decided that I had to do a tribute to him on this blog. I want to discuss his career, impact, life, the truth about his "rivalry" with Michael and his legacy. My tribute will not be very detailed but to the point so do not expect this tribute to be a long thesis on how Prince made people think differently about black men and their masculinity and so on. Those types of articles have been done already. This is my version on how I see Prince and I hope you like it. 

Prince in 1991.

The Beginning

Prince when he was in high school.

I have to be honest, I never was invested in the personal side of Prince's life. I was a fan of the music so I only know a few things about his life. Prince Roger Nelson was born on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father was a jazz musician name John  L. Nelson and his mother was a social worker and singer name Mattie Delta Baker. The senior Nelson named his son after a band that he was a part of called Prince Rogers Trio. Prince was a self taught musician and according to a Jet magazine profile on Prince page 61, his musical talent began to show,

"Prince first learned to play the piano at 7. He taught himself the theme from TV's 'Batman'." 

When Prince was a teenager, he taught himself how to play the guitar and the drums and even though he was starting to become a music prodigy, his family life was becoming chaotic. According to an article from the Philadelphia Tribune and Associated Press, Prince's parents, page 2A,

"separated when he was 10, and Prince, who ended up with six siblings, moved back and forth between homes of his mother and father." 

Prince was getting tired of his living arrangements and left his mother's home to live with a childhood friend name Andre Cymone. 

Andre (who was once in the group Shalamar) met Prince when they were schoolmates and bonded over their love for music. Andre did an exclusive interview with about his friendship with Prince. After reading this, I learned that not only was Andre Prince's friend, but he was also his bandmate for their group Grand Central. He talked about how dedicated he and Prince wanted to do music, 

"Prince and I were very dedicated, both very passionate. That was one of things right away that drew me to him. He had the same passion. He wanted it as bad as I wanted it. I knew other musicians but no one ever really took it all that serious."

When it came to his education, Prince was a resilient student who was involved in playing basketball and music. He graduated from Central High School in 1976 and went on to focus on his music career. When Prince got a record deal with Warner Brothers, his connection with Andre Cymone ended. However, they reunited over 35 years later at the concerts that Prince did a few years back. 

The Music/Success/Career

Prince during the early days of his career. 

Prince had one of those successful careers that today's singers can only dream of. From 1978 to 2014/2015, Prince released 39 albums, sold 100 million copies worldwide, won seven Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. When Prince's first album, For You, was released, it was revealed that he played every instrument in the album (27 in all). When it came time for Prince to promote the album, he contacted the then editor of the magazine, Right On!, Cynthia Horner wanting to do an interview with the magazine. According to Jet, Cynthia stated that, on page 61, 

"He was his own publicist back then. He placed a call himself. He wanted to use me as a vehicle to make his voice known to the public. He was shy back then. He played me more that 12 instruments. I realized he was a musical genius. Through his actions, he was letting me know that he was one of the most talented people I would ever meet. He was right." 
For You did not do very well on the charts and in 1979, he released the album that would get him major success. The album was called Prince and it produced his first hit called "I Wanna Be Your Lover". 

From the Prince album, 1979.

After the major success of that song and album, Prince released three more hit albums called Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981) and 1999 (1982) which produced huge hits such as "1999" and "Little Red Corvette". Two years later, Prince released the album and movie that changed his life forever, Purple Rain (1984). 

Purple Rain, 1984. 

The album had iconic hits such as "Purple Rain", "Baby, I'm a Star", "I Will Die 4 U" among others. The movie was a hit at the box office and he was starting to become one of the biggest stars of the 1980s. Purple Rain, the album, won various awards such as American Music Awards, Grammys and an Academy Award. 

Parade, 1986

After the success of Purple Rain, he release five more albums throughout the decade: Around the World in a Day (1985), Parade (1986), Sign of the Times (1987), Lovesexy (1988) and Batman Soundtrack (1989). Each of the songs from those albums, "Raspberry Beret". "Adore", "Kiss", "U Got the Look", "I Wish You Heaven, "Pop Life"and "Batdance" to name a few became instant hits in the remaining of the 1980s. 

Diamonds and Pearls, 1991.

In the 1990s, Prince released 12 albums such as Graffitti Bridge (1990), Diamonds and Pearls (1991), The Beautiful Experience (1994), Crystal Ball (1998) and Rave Un2 the Joy Fantanstic (1999) to name a few. He had hits at that time like "My Name is Prince", "Diamonds and Pearls", "Thieves of the Temple", "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", "Love Sign" and "The Greatest Romance Ever Sold" were hits during the decade.

Musicology, 2001

Hit N Run, 2015

In the 2000s up until his passing in April, Prince released 16 albums such as Musicology, 3121 and Hit N Run and had hits like "Musicology" and "Black Sweat". 

Under the Cherry Moon, 1986

As we all know, Prince also did movies and I have to admit, I was never fond of Purple Rain. I did not understand the movie and I thought it was badly written. I was more of a fan of Graffiti Bridge because I understood what was going on in the movie and I thought the writing was good. Please, don't knock me. I never saw the movie Under the Cherry Moon but I have seen some clips of the movie and it looks interesting. 

Prince in 1986. 

As usual, when any musician have the type of fame that Prince had, there is always controversy. For years, people would always wonder about Prince's race. Was he mixed with black and white or was he a light skinned black man? Personally, I never cared for that because I always saw him as a black man but when he passed away, I found out some information about him that had me reading the information twice. In 1983, Rolling Stone magazine did a feature with Prince about his successful album 1999 and the impact it was making. At that time, speculation was being made about his race: was he black or white. In the article in discussing his father John Nelson, it stated that, 

"Nelson is black and Italian; his ex-wife, says Prince of his mother, "is a mixture of a bunch of things." Onstage, the father was called Prince Rogers, and that is what he named his son, Prince Rogers Nelson." (link not available)

Prince in 1984. 

It can seem like Prince was not trying to state that he was fully black and maybe there was a reason for that. After some searching, I stumbled upon a book about Prince and his lyrics called, The Lyrics of Prince Rogers Nelson/A Literary Look At a Creative, Musical Poet, Philosopher and Storyteller, there were some interesting comments that Prince stated to people about dealing with black people. From page 25, 

Now, I do not want to get ahead of myself and start getting into why Prince would have to be in somewhat denial of his race. His music bought all people together and ultimately, that was what he wanted to do with his body or work. I wanted to state that at one point, Prince did shy away from his race earlier in his career. Eventually, he would soon realized how important it was to always be connected to his race. 

Then, there was his fans: loyal, supportive and loving, even if Prince's sues them. Prince sued fans back in 2014 because they posted bootlegged performances of his on Facebook. The type of lawsuit was copyright infringement and he was suing the fans for $22M, 

"The lawsuit lists two people by name, Dan Chodera and Karina Jindrova. According to the court papers, Chodera and Jindrova operated a Facebook page, kristynafanpage, with numerous videos of Prince performances, including "Let's Go Crazy."According to court documents, Prince sent "take down" notices to Facebook and Facebook complied, but Chodera and Jindrova objected to having the material removed.To avoid Facebook reinstating the content, Prince filed his lawsuit. But efforts to serve Chodera in France and Jindrova in the Czech Republic have so far been unsuccessful, the lawsuit said.Reached by email for a comment, Chodera and Jindrova responded with "We love Prince!"The other 20 defendants are listed by their online user names, including "TheUltimateBootlegExperience."Some of the names are Prince related - "PurpleHouse2," "PurpleKissTwo" - suggesting that they may be longtime fans of the superstar."

I have never heard of a entertainer who sued their fans over something like this. Just saying. 

A Supporter of Women/Relationships

Prince with then girlfriend, Vanity (Denise Matthews) on the cover of Rolling Stone, 1983.

Prince always made people guessed what type of sexual orientation was he and personally, I was curious about that side of him. After some digging and reading up on this subject, I have come to the conclusion and belief that Prince was into women. He even stated that he was not gay in a interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1983, 

"Let me clear up a few rumors while I have the chance," Prince told the Los Angeles Times. "One, my real name is Prince. Two, I'm not gay. And three, I'm not Jamie Starr." (link not available) 

Prince with his second wife, Manuela Testolini in 2005.

He was married twice to Mayte Garcia and Manuela Testolini engaged to Sheila E, had a very close connection to Vanity, dated Madonna and he always had romantic relationships with women he worked with. When he passed away, this side of his life started to take noticed and then people started to ask questions. One of those questions were, was Prince ever into dark-skinned, black women. 

Prince with Sheila E. and dancer Cat Glover, 1988.

Now, that is a question that I never really thought about because Prince had a type: pretty, exotic and either light-skinned black, biracial, Hispanic or white descent. I stumbled upon an article called "For Colored Girls Who Loved Prince" and the writer was very honest about Prince and his supposed non-affection for women of dark skinned, 

"Recently, I went back and reread a short story that I wrote about him when I was 14. The title was, “For the Love of…” And it started like this, “This is the story of a young college girl named Trina Taylor. She is in her 2nd year of college and she is 19 years old. She is mixed with Indian, white and black blood. She is the most popular girl on campus. She is also very attractive. She has grayish color eyes, light skin, long silky hair, and a petite model’s shape.” Needless to say, I don’t look anything like the young woman I described, but that was what the women that Prince was attracted to looked like – Shelia E., Vanity, Apollonia. So for the sake of my story, which was a love story between this girl and Prince, that is what she looked like. That is what “I” looked like, because of course the girl was me. Over the years, I watched his music videos, films, paparazzi photos, memorized by his beauty and the beauty of the women on his arm. And I never unpacked the reality that none of them looked like me. I never unpacked the reality that he had no brown girls on his arm, with thick lips, thick hips and natural kinky/curly hair. Did he love me like I loved him? I told myself that he did, because his music spoke to me and filled my soul, but when I look closely at who he surrounded himself with, I couldn’t be sure."

After reading the rest of the writer's view of Prince, the writer did not state that Prince did date a brown-skinned woman, Nona Gaye, the daughter of the late Marvin Gaye, for a few years in the 1990s. Prince never married a black woman and I find it interesting that he was not bashed or attacked for it like Michael Jackson was. However, just because he did not marry a black woman does not mean, in any way, that he was not a supporter of them. Prince was clearly a supporter of black women. When it came time for Prince to do an interview with a magazine, he made that magazine find him a black woman to interview him. A writer named Ericka Kennedy discussed about the time In Style magazine was looking for a person to do an interview with Prince back in 2000. This is what the late Ericka Kennedy stated, 

"I had just started writing professionally after quitting my PR job at Tommy Hilfiger. I had sent my clips to InStyle and one Friday afternoon they left me a frantic message. Turns out they wanted me to interview The Artist (as he was called then) and it could happen at any moment so they wanted to have me on standby. Of course, I’m psyched, but I’m also suspicious because they had never worked with me and I was so green. So I asked, “Why me?” They tell me he specifically asked for an African-American female writer and I thought,Out of the whole Time, Inc. network, I’m all you got? At that point in my career, anybody would have been more qualified than me! So in the book, the idea that Sydney is offered this cushy contract, even though she was previously just a temp, is derived from the fact that I got drafted into the big leagues under the Prince Rogers Nelson affirmative action plan!"

If you are curious about the women that Prince dated, was engaged to, married or had flings over the years, check out an issue of Giant magazine in which Prince was featured that listed the women in his life. 

The women Prince has been with, 2007.

The "Rivalries": Michael and Rick James

Prince performing at a concert. 

Prince had many rivals with his fellow musical peers and probably the two musical legends that he was often compared to, Michael Jackson and Rick James, were the two that the media and their fans often wanted to believed that a rivalry existed. I do not like to use the word "rivalry" when it comes to Prince, Michael and Rick because honestly, when you really read the information, there wasn't really a rivalry between them. In fact, I doubt that Prince hated these men. I believed that Prince respected and eventually liked them, well maybe Michael and as for Rick James, I am not sure. 

Rick James during his heyday in the early 1980s.

What I am sure is that Rick James discussed about the time he met Prince and what came of that in his autobiography, The Confessions of Rick James: Memoirs of a Super Freak. In his book, on page 165, he talked about Prince and his hit record at the time, "I Wanna Be Your Lover", 

"I bought his album and I really enjoyed it, especially 'Sexy Dancer'."
So, it seems as though, Rick really liked Prince but then things started to become weird and eventually downright wrong and from pages 166-168, a rivalry starts to occur. Rick asked Prince to be his opening act for his Fire It Up tour and when Rick saw him, Prince was playing on the drums. Rick James intimidated him as he explained on page 166, 

"He looked over at me and just got his little a** up and walked away. That was my first victory." 

Rick discusses that Prince starts to study every move he made. 

"Whenever I was on stage I'd see Prince on the side of the stage just staring and watching everything I did, like a kid in school. I'd walk over to him during a song and point my bass right in his face, grab my crotch, give him the finger and keep jammin'. He was remembering everything I did, like a computer." 

After that, from page 166-167, Rick described his reaction when he realized that Prince stole his whole performance. 

 "Here's Prince doing my chants. Not only that he was stalking the stage just like me, doing the funk sign, flipping the microphone and everything. The boy had stolen my whole show. I was pissed, and so was my band. This went on night after night, every show I'd see more of my own routine. It got to the point I couldn't do the stuff I had always done cuz Prince was doing it before I came on. It started to look like I was copying him."

Rick states that his band and Prince's band did not get along and were not nice. The tension between the bands and artists were at a high point. The management of both parties decided to come together and come to some sort of an agreement. Rick told Prince's manager that he had to stop doing his show on stage and his manager agreed even admitting that Prince was stealing from Rick. After that, his band wanted to fight Prince's band but eventually they did not fight and patched things up. After that, things went back to normal. Eventually, Rick stated in his book that he became jealous of Prince once he became a huge star and even questioned his blackness. 

Michael in 1986 on Captain EO.

When it came to Michael, the so called "rivalry" between made sense. Think about it: Michael and Prince were the biggest black, male entertainers of the 1980s and 1990s. They sold millions of records, won countless awards and had the most loyal, dedicated fans ever. The fans communities: Purple Army and Moonwalkers/MJFam always had some kind of beef and usually, coming from my point of view, it was always someone from the Purple Army starting something. The MJ fans, most of us, were also fans of Prince so we never really have to start anything with Prince fans. I always noticed that Prince fans were jealous of Michael and I think it had to do with the fact that Michael became such a huge entertainer. That bothered many of the Prince fans to the point where the fans became some of Michael's biggest haters. Some of those fans are in the media such as Toure and Nelson George. 

To really discuss this "rivalry" between the two men, I have to really stressed that Prince was just as friendly with Michael as Michael was to Prince. Prince was also friends with Michael's relatives because, later on in his life, he became a Jehovah's Witness and Katherine and Rebbie are still witnesses. Prince idolized Michael and was a big fan of the Jackson5/Jacksons. Prince defended Michael during his hard time in 2005 even going as far as to banned fans who trashed Michael on 

When I think of these two men, I really hate the fact that people think that these men hated each other when it was more of a competition to see how far their talents and gifts can go. I want to get this starting with an interview that Cynthia Horner did years back with a youtuber name Thisis50. 

Cynthia Horner talking about MJ and Prince in 2013.

In the video, she talks about the time she met Michael, hanging out with him and then when she met Prince. She also stated that Michael even asked "who was he" when he saw Prince on the cover of one of the Right On! magazines. 

After that, the so called Michael v. Prince battle started to begin. I want to state that there is a youtuber by the name of Black Patriarch who did a 4 part series about Michael and Prince. I highly recommend people who are learning about both entertainers to watch the series. In 1983, James Brown did a concert in which Michael and Prince performed on the same stage. 

The three greats in 1983. 

There is an article somewhere on the Internet that discussed this concert and it stated that Prince stole the show. However, that was not the case. According to Alan Leeds who was there, 

"Prince went to a James Brown gig [in 1983] with Bobby Z, his drummer at the time, Big Chick, who was his security guard, and I think Jill Jones, who was one of his protégés. By now, everybody knows what happened at that gig. I don’t think Prince realized that Michael was going to be there. James looked a little puzzled in that video when Michael whispered in his ear, “Hey, bring Prince up.” And of course Prince didn’t really know what to do either. He went to the guitar first but he fumbles with that because it was left-handed. He played a few licks, did some dancing and knocked over a prop by accident. Now I always wondered if Michael intentionally brought Prince up to put him in that position just to say, “Hey, you think you’re on my ass? Well follow this, motherfucker [laughs].” Bobby Z called me and said, “Oh boy…he made an ass of himself tonight.” He said Prince didn’t say a word the whole way to the hotel. "

Michael reading about Prince in 1984. did a great feature about the anatomy of the "rivalry" between Michael and Prince. Around the time both men were already at the point of their very successful and record breaking careers, it was revealed that Prince admired Michael and even went to his concerts. As told by Alan Leeds, 

"Before we set out on the Purple Rain tour, it was a case of Prince wanting to see what Michael and the Jacksons were doing in terms of production, lighting, staging and everything with the Victory tour. We charted a jet with a couple of his bodyguards and Jerome Benton from the Time and Leroy Bennett, who was Prince’s lighting and production designer for his tours. We flew to Dallas to the old stadium where the Cowboys played. There was a feeling in our camp that while what they were doing was a very solid stadium production, there was nothing really cutting edge about the technology. The Varilites, which was a brand name for a type of computerized lighting, was the gold standard in the industry at that time. And we made sure we had all that shit. But the Jackson’s production didn’t. Prince had a lot of respect for Michael, but he was mildly impressed with the show."

Even Michael was at four of Prince's Purple Rain concerts, as told by Questlove from The Roots, 

"Michael attended many of the Purple Rain concerts. I have the four Purple Rain shows that were in Los Angeles in ’84. And now that I realize that Mike was in the audience, I often watch it to see if I can spot him [laughs]. But it makes you think. Why was Mike there four nights in a row? You have already created Thriller, you’ve done the Moonwalk, you’ve done the groundbreaking videos and you’ve sold a million a week. You are officially in the Guinness Book of World Records. For all intents and purposes, Purple Rain sold 15 million units, but it was hardly the 33 million that Thriller went on to sell. So why are you this curious to who is behind you? Then I realized that you can’t be that successful without being competitive. Michael knew Prince was a serious threat."

Even though Prince added a song for the "We Are the World" album, he did not participate in the actual song. 

"Quincy Jones organized a lunch that brought Michael and Prince together. At one point, they asked him to be a part of We All The World, but Prince respectfully declined and offered to give them a song [“4 The Tears In Your Eyes”]. All I remember Prince talking about afterwards is that he thought Michael was a little bit weird. And this is coming from a guy who wore high heels and pajamas to nightclubs [laughs]."

Michael's longtime collaborator, Bruce Swedien recalls a time when Michael and Prince were in the studio to record the Bad album.

"Prince is wonderful…just an incredible talent. Both he and Michael had a cordial relationship. They even hung out a few times. It’s common knowledge that the song “Bad” was written to be a duet between Michael and Prince. But as you know it never came together. When Prince left the studio after we were working on “Bad” he decided to pull out of it. He left the control room and as he turned around to go he said to us all, “Don’t worry, this record will be a big hit even if I’m not on it.”"

That is what happened on Michael's side but Alan Leeds had a totally different story. 

"But the thing about Michael coming to Prince and wanting him to do “Bad,” that really pissed him off. Prince was like, “Oh, he wants to punk me out on record. Who does he think I am, crazy?” He couldn’t get outside himself enough to realize that it was the kind of thing that probably could have benefited both of them. Still, it would have forever been Michael’s video with Prince as just a guest. So that captured what the relationship couldn’t be. They were like Ali vs. Frazier. And the media couldn’t get enough of pitting these guys against each other."

Artwork of the two greats, 2016.

That would explain why Prince told Chris Rock back in 1997, that he was not going to sing that song to Michael. I can understand why Prince would feel that way but the media saw that information as proof that Michael and Prince did not like one another. The urban legend that Michael and Prince were not on friendly terms because of that one situation continue to be believed. With the piece on their history, it was revealed that Michael told Eddie Murphy when they were doing a song together, according to Questlove, 

"You recall that ill-fated duet Eddie Murphy did with Michael called “Whatzupwitu?” I have five hours of raw footage during filming for that video. Michael and Eddie had a green screen behind them, so somewhere in that second hour, the conversation turns to Prince. And Eddie is like, “Yeah man…Prince is a bad motherfucker. I’m glad I’m working with you, but another dream I have is working with him too.” And I don’t even think that Mike knew the camera was on him and he goes, “Yes, he’s a natural genius.” And then four beats later, Michael says, “But I can beat him [laughs].”"

Michael Bland, a drummer for one of Prince's group New Power Generation, talked about the time Prince received a present from Michael, 

"He was really into the Pretenders at some point. He talked about how much he liked Chrissie Hynde and the songwriting. He played me some of the first Sly Stone records I ever heard. That was an education I couldn't have received anywhere else. We held meetings, and we would watch random videos people would send. Michael Jackson loved sending Prince old footage of Sly. Prince would just stop everything and bring everybody to his office. One time we watched the Jackson 5 Goin' Back to Indiana special."

From that information, it is clear that Michael and Prince were cordial and Michael even going as far as to send Prince footage of one of his favorite performers, Sly Stone. In 1994, when Michael was working on his classic album, History: Past, Present and Future, Brian Vibberts, a studio engineer who worked with both men, discussed with blogger and author, Damien Shields, about the secret meeting that both men had. 

"On July 14, 1994, Prince came to visit Michael in the early afternoon to discuss recording a song together. It was five years after the release of Prince and Madonna’s duet (“Love Song”), so he was probably more open to the idea. Michael and Prince had discussed doing a song before (the song “Bad”) but nothing had ever been recorded.On that day, Prince arrived with two huge bodyguards. The three of them walked right by me and into Michael’s lounge, which was the Studio 3 lounge at the Hit Factory at 421 West 54th Street in New York City. It was a private meeting, so I continued my work in Studio 4 – working on new music for HIStoryPrince talked with Michael for a few hours before leaving. Prince only visited that one time during the HIStory sessions. No songs were ever worked on, written, or recorded for this potential collaboration, and unfortunately there is no Michael and Prince duet in the vault."

Fast forward to the 2000s and things were different in their careers: Prince was releasing music and tour while Michael was trying to come back with Invincible only to have an epic war with his record company. Michael also had to deal with serious legal trouble that changed his life. From the time Michael was vindicated up until his murder in 2009, Michael and Prince were still, in a way, competing with one another. When Michael was rehearsing for the This is It concerts, he would state that he wanted his concerts to be bigger than Prince's.

"As Jackson prepared for his big comeback at the O2 Arena in London in 2009, he reportedly wanted to make sure his 50-date residency beat Prince’s 2007 record of playing 21 nights to an estimated 350,000 people. Notoriously unable to sleep at night, Jackson told director Kenny Ortega that he was buzzing with creative ideas and couldn’t “turn it off”. Ortega asked if Jackson might possibly put these ideas on hold until after the concert series had begun. “You don’t understand,” Jackson replied. “If I’m not there to receive these ideas, God might give them to Prince.”

When Michael passed away in 2009, Prince was asked about him and stated, 

"Asked about Jackson’s death in an October interview in France, Prince simply said: 'It is always sad to lose someone you loved'."

When Prince would go on tour, he would often play Michael's hits as a tribute to him. So, overall, when you really read the information, they never really had a rivalry. It was more of a mutual respect and understanding of one another. Hopefully, people see the real story and not get caught up in the media and how they want the public to choose which of these two megastars are the greater one. Both men were great and both men made a huge difference in music and pop culture. 

The Humanitarian and Activist

Prince in 2004.

Prince has always been a humanitarian and he really did not make a lot of noise about helping people. I cannot say that I blame him because we all should help people and do so without others knowing about it. Prince did something amazing back in 1984 when he gave a free concert to deaf college students. 

"In a surprise, free performance at Gallaudet College, Prince, the rock star, dazzled and thrilled about 2,500 handicapped students from the campus and the city’s public schools yesterday afternoon.
There were blind students who could not see him. There were deaf students who could only feel the vibrations of the songs that have made Prince one of the country’s most popular performers. But none of that seemed to matter. Promoters said Prince requested to do the show for handicapped students who would not otherwise be able to see or hear him perform. It was his second charitable appearance this week."

In 2001, Prince saved Louisville Western Branch Library from closure by donating a $10,000 check to the library. 

"A little known Prince factoid. When Prince read that Louisville was going close the Western Branch Library ( which is the first full service library for African Americans in country) he wrote a $10,000 check to the Western Branch Library Association to support the library."

Prince performing in 1993 and protesting against Warner Brothers Music.

There are probably various stories of Prince helping people or preserving landmarks that we did not know about. Prince even helped influence his fellow musicians to fight back the music industry when they start to treat people unfairly. In the 1990s, Prince started to change his name to a symbol and wrote "slave" on his face. It was that action that he started to have a war with his record company Warner Brothers because, as he stated, 

"I wanted to buy my masters back from Warner Bros. They said no way. So I'm going to re-record them. All of them. Now you will have two catalogs with pretty much exactly the same music—except mine will be better—and you can either give your money to WB, the big company, or to NPG. You choose."

Prince even rage a war with the Internet and refused to put his music on youtube. He explained about this to George Lopez, back in 2011:  

Eventually, in 2014, he went back to Warner Brothers music. Prince was also an activist for the Black Lives Matter movement where he stated in the 2015 Grammys, from The Philadelphia Tribune, page 2-A,

"Albums - you remember those? Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter."

In his albums, Prince often spoke out against the injustices in the world like in his 1987 album "Sign O' The Times" he discussed the AIDS virus and poverty. In 1999, he discussed nuclear profanation. 


Prince on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, 2016.

Prince left a huge hole in music when he suddenly died April 21st and he really changed the game as far as how people viewed black men. He broke rules when it came to gender and sexuality. He was also not ashamed of being religious, first being a Seventh Day Adventist and then converting to a Jehovah's Witness later on in his life. He put the Minnesota sound on the map, help discovered artists/singers such as Sheena Easton, Sheila E., Morris Day and the Time and producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. He fought for the right to own his masters and have creative control in his music and probably was the inspiration for other artists such as Michael Jackson and Taylor Swift to speak out against their records labels or the unfairness of the music industry. 

After months of speculation on what took Prince life, it was revealed that he died of an accidental overdose of Fentanyl. That was heartbreaking. I did not want to believe what the media was speculating what killed him was true. I was one of those people who believed that he was not having any drug issues, lived a clean life and was a Vegan. At times, we forget that these singers, these larger than life personas are human beings who are probably going through something that we don't know anything about. Maybe Prince did not want people to worry about him and that is why he worked so much. I wished that someone would have told Prince that he did his job, that he can relax and he can truly enjoy his life. However, Prince probably did not feel secure enough to do that. It seems like this is becoming the norm: almost middle aged, black megastars, Michael, Whitney and now Prince, passing away before they can retire and all working on some kind of comeback. It does not seem to be fair that they are gone and no one seemed to tell them that they did enough. They did enough work, they did what they were supposed to do. I hope that understanding what Prince had to go through instead of dwelling on what took his life, can help people understand that celebrities are human beings first and when they have done enough, that we need to tell them so. Rest in Peace, Prince and thank you for everything.  



The Confessions of Rick James: Memoirs of a Super Freak, James, Rick, pages 165-167, 2007.

The Lyrics of Prince Roger Nelson: A Literary Look at a Creative, Musical Poet, Philosopher and Storyteller. McInnis, C.Liegh, page 25. 1995, 2000 and 2007.

Articles -
"The Time Prince Gave a Free Concert at a College for Deaf Students". Argetsinger, Amy,, April 22, 2016.

"Prince Remembered by Childhood Friend and Bandmate Andre Cymone". Cymone, Andre,, April 28, 2016,

"Why Is Prince Suing His Fans?" Fisher, Luchina,, January 28, 2014,

"Prince Fought Big Label for Ownership, Artistic Control". Davis, Lisa Kay,, April 21, 2016.

"Prince Made a Secret Donation to Support Louisville's Historic Western Library in 2001". Chipman, Mellisa,, April 21, 2016.

"Prince and Michael Jackson: The Rivalry and Revolution". Vogel, Joseph,, April 26, 2016,

"History 20: Michael Jackson's Secret Meeting With Prince and Other Memories From the King of Pop Recording Engineers". Shields, Damien., June 20, 2015.

"Prince in the Nineties: An Oral History". Browne, David,, May 5, 2016.

"For Colored Girls Who Loved Prince". Allison, Donnetrice., April 2016.

"That Time Prince Made A Magazine Find a Black Woman to Interview Him".Workneh, Lilly., April 26, 2016.

Videos -
All videos came from

Newspaper - 
"Pop Idol Knew Few Boundaries in Music or Life". Booker, Bobbi. The Philadelphia Tribune, page 2A, April 22, 2016.

Magazines -
"Prince Continues his Purple Reign at 50". Christian, Margena, A. Jet, June 23, 2008, pages 60-61. 

Message Board Posts -
"Michael and Prince.", Michael Jackson Forum., April 2016.

Tumblr/Gifs -
Prince discussing with former talk show host and comedian George Lopez about Copyright from

Pictures - 
The pictures of Prince and artwork from and my personal twitter feed. The image of the women that had a romantic encounter with Prince from Giant magazine pages 108-109. August/September 2007.