Influence: Remembering Prince On His Death Day

“Come out to my car and check this out,” my cousin said. He was a few years older than me and always kept me up to speed on what the cool, older kids were into. I was in middle school, he would graduate soon. It was Christmas Day 1984. We were visiting extended family at my grandmothers apartment.

So I went with him, down from the second floor gathering, to the parking lot, where my cousin played me a new tape he had gotten that morning for Christmas.  I was taken in by the sounds immediately.  It was fresh and exciting. It was super catchy.  It was a little weird.

It was the soundtrack for Purple Rain, by Prince.

I knew of Prince and was already a fan of the songs I had heard on the radio. By my cousin was playing me songs that hadn’t yet been released as singles; Computer Blue, Take Me With You, Darling Nikki, The Beautiful Ones.

From that day on, I was hooked.  As I grew up and became a professional musician, Prince’s music impacted me on several levels.  It still does to this day.

And this day, April 21, marks the anniversary of Prince’s death in 2016.  

His sudden passing was shocking, but it didn’t leave as big a mark as that Christmas afternoon at my cousin’s car.  Some people remember where they were or what they were doing when notable events took place, like the Challenger disaster or a political assassination.  As I musician, I remember where I was when I was first impacted by certain musicians; Prince, Miles Davis.

A few years ago I checked an item off my bucket list by touring Prince’s Paisley Park studios near Minneapolis. It was an excellent experience you can read about here.

Even though Prince died too young at age 56, his work continues to influence my own despite my never having met him.  His untimely death also serves as a reminder to not take anything or any time for granted.

Who has influenced your life or your work without you actually having met them?

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6 thoughts on “Influence: Remembering Prince On His Death Day

  1. I’ve been influenced by various people. I’m crib inspiration from this person and that one. Marie Curie was an inspiration when I was a young girl after I read her biography. She persisted. Those are the people I admire. The ones who stand up and fight in the face of challenge. I’m not sure why musicians rarely make the list; perhaps because I don’t go deep there – I’m a surface listener. Though I too miss Prince.

  2. Prince is a role model at several levels — his ability to be self- confident without the arrogance so many display, his song writing, his skill with his guitar, his compassion, his drive to be better than his best. One sportswriter said that with a couple of extra inches in height, he would have been a star NBA forward. He had the ability to take any space — even a Superbowl — and turn it into an intimate moment in his studio. Just amazing.

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