His Royal Purpleness Mr “Musicology” Rock The Mic In Paradise (RIP) the last of the Musical Mohicans!! (7th June 1958-21st April 2016)

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Roger Prince Nelson was born June 7th 1958 apparently after his fathers Prince Rogers Trio jazz band. Growing up in Minneapolis Prince was exposed to both rock and soul which would become an advantage in addition to his light complexion in how he transcended both the black and white audiences. Prince showed promise in pursuing music aged 12 with his group of five years Champagne . Aged 17 Prince linked up with Pepe Willie’s 94 East outfit laying guitar licks on tracks “10.15” , “Fortune Teller” and five “Cookhouse 1975 sessions” “If We Don’t You See Me”, “I’ll Always Love You”,”Games” and “Better Than You Think”. Pepe saw Prince’s raw potential and years later releases the “Historical 1977 Session’s” featuring Prince on a favourite instrumental of mine “If You Feel Like Dancin”. By the late 1970’s Prince landed a record deal with Warner Brothers who afforded him what the other labels wouldn’t, the chance to produce his own albums,. This was important to Prince who as a truly gifted multi instrumentalist, played all the instruments on both his debut and follow up albums “For You” and “Prince” circa 1978 and 1979. The latter 1979 album carried “Sexy Dancer” and “I Feel For You” a song that would later be covered and taken to huge heights by label mate Chaka Khan. The single that really broke Prince mainstream was “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and this gave Prince his first performing TV performance. Prince was so overwhelmed and rendered speechless with stage fright, so much so, he vowed that would never happen to him again. Prince admittedly developed his sound in a similar vein to a hero of his Larry Graham’s Grand Central Station funk, vocal and musical ethos, when I spoke with Larry Graham 3 years back for Soul Survivors. With an incredible vocal range by his 3rd, 4th and 5th albums “Dirty Minds”,“Controversy” and “1999”, Prince remained funky producing cuts such as “Head” Controversy “Lady Cab Driver” and “1999”. He managed to masquerade a very unique dual identity persona in both his music and physical dress guises. Prince was able to flex outrageously between both the soul/punk funk world like his contemporary Rick James with equilibrium, and synonymously please the pop and rock world. However it was his risqué cross dressing androgynous sexual/kinky feline persona, wearing hi heels, suspenders, stockings and make up,and a contrasting new romantic, bohemian, Edwardian and gothic style that made him such an anomaly . Flirting with challenging political, social and sexual statements, Prince by the mid 1980’s was a visual personification of Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone , James Brown and Michael Jackson all morphed into one very fit, athletic,exciting and dynamic performer. Women drooled over him and men either envied or wanted to be like him, Prince was that charismatic .  Between 1982 and 1984 Prince introduced and produced albums by Vanity 6 with “Nasty Girls” being a massive Electric Ball room classic I danced to, and The Time Band, thank heavens for “7779311”. From the Minneapolis camp artist’s Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis formally of The Time Band went on to become prolific producers in the 1980’s for Janet Jackson, The SOS Band and Change. Morris Day(Time Band) and Apolliona (Vanity 6) co starred in Princes’ 1984 semi autobiographical film “Purple Rain”. The film score was revolutionary like the name of his band, which spawned many hits including the no bass line classic “When Doves Cry” and the Academy award winning best song “Purple Rain”. Between then and 1987 with the films success Prince now had Lisa & Wendy in his band and continued his musical prowess writing a number 2 charting “Manic Monday” recorded by the Bangles. After another swift change in the line up, Prince worked with Scottish pop star Sheila Easton on “You Got The Look “and recruited percussionist Sheila E who had a club hit with “Love Bizzare”. Both featured on the 1987 “Sign Of The Times” double album.  I often wondered if Ready For The World wrote “Oh Sheila” in the style of Prince because of those two ladies? “Housequake” was like Ron Seal ..exactly as the title suggests, with “Starfish And Coffee”, “The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker” and the social commentating “Sign Of The Times” propping up another great concept album. Up until that time from the early 1980’s, Prince and an iconic hero Michael Jackson were the only two black artists who were making waves in a very white dominated MTV world. Although Micheal had more kudos in the industry I’d say that Prince was the more acceptable face as a rock star, partially because his less than squeaky clean image and the fact he could dance and play his guitar with equal eroticism. Prince had his own label Paisley Park with Madhouse and Mavis Staples as signed acts and hits with “Boys And Girls” and “Kiss” covered by Tom Jones. Prince made another three films “Sign Of The Times”, “Under The Cherry Moon” and “Graffiti Bridge”. As we tail off the late 1980’s Prince’s outfit The Family had a club hit with “Screams Of Passion” and that albums “Nothing Compares To You” became a worldwide hit for Irish singer Sinead O Connor. His “Love Sexy” with “Alphabet Street”, collaboration with Chaka Khan and film score for the Batman movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson keep Prince relevant as a pioneering entrepreneurial artist . Embracing on occasion jazz, rap, hip hop, and reggae rhythms, Prince in his career has been nominated for over 20  Grammys and won 7, 9 MTV awards and won 4 and 1 successful Academy award. Prince is a controversial character changing his band often and his name. He’s become a Jehovah’s Witness via a huge mentor and friend Larry Graham and can announce he’s doing concert in less than an hour and sell out.  After major wrangling with Warner Brothers Prince went to Sony and recorded the “Musicology” album before he gave an album “Planet Earth” with funky “Chelsea Rodgers” away free for the second time in the Mail On Sunday here in the UK. This paid off in making an 18 million dollar profit from doing sold out concerts as he forwent his 4.6 million licensing fee. 21 years after “Purple Rain”, Prince has influenced many including Melisa Morgan’s superb 1984 cover of “Do Me Baby” Ginuwine’s vocals on an almost “When Doves Cry” produced “I Owe You “ by rapper Nas and Bilal’s latest 2015 album. I conclude I saw Prince at last in 2007 at The 02 Greenwich and he was funky. He will be forever hailed as the “Extraloverable” “Royal Purple Funkness and king of the Minneapolis sound. June 2015

 

Those words of wisdom providentially were featured in Issue 60 10 months ago of “The Soul Survivors Magazine’ issue 60. This is like James Brown & Micheal Jackson on repeat for me..the last in the legacy of the triple whammy performers who could sing and dance and the same time with simultaneous and separate breathing!! I don’t want to believe it..God help those if this is a scam it’s worse than any imaginable “Controversy”!!. I’m totally speechless ..His Royal Pupleness on the Queens 90th earthday..this is providential and for me who is gonna take the baton for the all round entertainer of massive “Housequake” proportions? Lynda Cann, Josephine French and Ronnie Stephenson ..I feel your pain as true Your Royal Purpleness devotees ..Trust me ..Soul Survivors Magazine will pay homage to his Royal Purpleness Prince..I did a piece on Roger Prince Nelson in the magazine June last year issue 60 and was inspired to do this drawing a week after his 56th earthday which I’m very proud of.. He really was Mr “Musicology” and I named a night after that track back in December 2013 championed by me and Dezzi Deleone . Nuff said!!..”When Doves Cry”..this is this time to to fly to musical heaven..!! April 21st 2016

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