Minnesota Says Goodbye to 2016, which Took Minneapolis’s Greatest Star
It’s no secret to those that know my music taste that Prince is at the top of my list. Perhaps, it is because of Minnesota pride that the notion of Prince being one of my favorites came about. It might be that his music has always gotten people to smile and come together or it could be that through one of the darkest time in my life I heard his song “When Doves Cry” and it helped me keep my sanity, sparking my love for an artist that loved his community and everything about it.
Prince wasn’t just an icon but a revolutionary as he went above and beyond what a man of color was able to do for the music industry at that time period. For example, one of his first shows opening for The Rolling Stones there was food and other items being thrown at him along with chants to get off the stage but, being a man of strong will, Prince continued to play through it and continued to rock the stages throughout the years which paid off for him when he performed one rainy Super Bowl Halftime Show. It was pouring rain and the storm was intense but Prince wanted to put on a show for his fans (which he did) and by the end everyone was singing “Purple Rain” whether it was at the stadium or at the homes and bars across the country watching the performance. Truly a spectacular turnaround from being booed to being risen up as one of the greatest musically gifted individuals of his generation.
Many of us who were big Prince fans can remember many of the events and where we were when hearing that Prince had died on the rainy morning of April 21, 2016. I was in my apartment excited because Corey Taylor was performing a sold out show that night at First Avenue (made famous by Prince) and I had tickets! There was also excitement because, coincidentally, my roommate and I were going to go see Chase and Ovation the next night, which happens to be the only Prince Tribute Band that Prince himself had endorsed. The homework and studying couldn’t even bring my spirits down, that is, until there was a break in between sessions. During this study break, my hands quickly navigated my way to social media finding an article by TMZ that stated “Prince Dies at 57.” “No,” I thought, “This cannot be so! Maybe TMZ is just yanking our chain.” My optimism waivered as the day went on as more articles came out announcing the death of the Minnesota legend. My roommate then walked through the door and my immediate response was to ask if he’d heard the news in which he responded that he had. We both shared a look of sorrow that made us both understand how important his music was in our lives.
Why was Minnesota so broken up about this? Prince himself was a very important community figure. He donated a lot of money to charities and programs that helped Minnesota and those in need. Someone like this was what we could claim as our own. Prince wasn’t just a star. No, he was Minnesota’s star! Everywhere he went people would recognize him even at shows he went to too support local musicians. In fact, one of my cousins was playing a show when recalls noticing Prince, in an interview my cousin states, “Haha. It was interesting. I was playing a gig at Bunkers, was packed. And all of a sudden there was a short guy dressed as a pirate and the drummer leaned in and just went, "Yo man, see Prince down there??" He just was there diggin on the music for a while with his crew. Very warm and receptive to the show. Then they packed up and left. Never got to see much of him but it was just really cool to have him in the room for a show.” This was at Bunkers bar, which was the local place that Prince hung out and performed in as he gained recognition and continued to hang out there after he became famous.
What tributes were done after Prince’s death? Two big ones stick out in my mind both on the night of and the night after Prince’s death. Earlier I had mentioned going to Corey Taylor’s show downtown which they had a huge block party beforehand because of Prince’s death. The Corey Taylor show then started at First Ave (which Corey paid homage by playing Purple Rain and Little Red Corvette) followed by the all night dance party in which thousands gathered downtown both inside and outside First Avenue to sing Purple Rain bringing all Minnesota brothers and sisters together bonding over a legacy that will never be forgotten. The night after Prince’s death, my roommate and I went to the Chase and Ovation show where we bonded with many over Prince’s music. Chase shared that he had been trained by Prince for a few days and that their family had close ties with him. So close of ties in fact, that when Chase was young, his uncle died, and his family was trying to figure out how to get to the funeral as a low-income family with few cars they didn’t have the luxury that is until they saw Limousines lining up to take the family to the funeral. Chase’s response to how he felt about the experience was, “Grateful!”
Why were Prince and his music so important in my life? There was a time during my adolescent years where my home situation was not a great environment for my mental health. There was a night where my feelings of hopeless and sadness were at a peak when I was a teen and the song “When Doves Cry “ came onto the radio and all my emotions just burst out of me. Tears were strolling down my face and my head was sobbing into the pillowcase making it easier to sleep later that night, as my room was already warm. My hands gripping the sides of the pillow as my frustrations about the situation I was in were just allowed to flow out of me. This was the first time in a few years that the expression of my emotions was allowed which made me feel much better and that the music of Prince would help me for years to come. Thank you Prince!
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