Photo courtesy of BLOG.CARANDDRIVER.COM
by JUSTIN KANG
From his eccentric appearance to his controversial, yet inspiring music, Prince has not only captivated fans since the ‘80s, but has cultivated a generation that continues to be inspired by his work.
With the news of his death, Prince fans across the world mourned the loss of a singer, producer and song-writer that some say defined the ‘80s music and culture.
“I was really upset… only because he was a huge cultural influence back in the early ‘80s,” said Antonio Castro, band director. “…I remember guys growing their hair out and wearing purple denim jackets and people that you would never expect to have that interest in that type of music. Absolutely [he] was a really huge cultural influence.”
Despite Prince’s death, fans and other music listeners still have the opportunity to listen to the distinct music that sets apart Prince from other musicians of the ‘80s and beyond. Such classics like “Darling Nikki,” “Raspberry Beret” and his wildly successful album 1999, are just some of the 100 million records Prince has sold. He started to play music at the age of 7.
“A lot of people don’t know, but he was a great guitar player. He is up there with [people] like Jimmy Hendrix,” said Casey O’Gorman, history teacher and Prince concert attendee. “That’s what I liked about him best, his guitar playing.”
His music, a blend of rock, pop, funk and R&B, portrayed sometimes graphic themes of sexuality, some of which are apparent in his 1980 album, Dirty Mind, and songs such as “Darling Nikki,” and this resulted in the music and the musician becoming controversial. Although his music exhibited graphic imagery, Prince also produced music that was deeply spiritual such as “The Ladder” and “The Cross” which were most likely attributed to his strong beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness.
“I feel like Prince left a lot of good music, and with the way he was, being really religious and spiritual, he left a positive attitude,” said Elisa Prohroff, senior. “I would say my favorite album is Purple Rain and my favorite song would have to be “1999” or “I Would Die 4 U.”
Throughout his almost 40-year career as a musician, producer and song-writer, Prince created music that not only propelled his own career but also the careers of other musicians.
Songs such as “Nothing Compares 2 U,” sung by Irish singer Sinead O’Connor, which advanced her career, were written by Prince, and the careers of singers Morris Day and Denise Katrina Matthews, better known as Vanity, are also attributed to his nurturing and mentorship of the musicians, according to the LA Times article, “Prince, master of rock, soul, pop and funk, dies at 57,” written by August Brown and Josh Rottenberg.
As a man revered for his music, Prince also stressed the importance of complete artistic freedom and ownership of his music throughout his career, so much so that he even changed his name to an obscure symbol and wrote the word “Slave” across his face, to protest the disagreements between himself and his then-label, Warner Bros. Prince even took action toward the internet, removing his work from sites such as Youtube and Pandora, ultimately defending what he says is his “art,” from being “trampled on for the sake of commerciality.”
Prince gained not only significant financial gains through his efforts, but was seen as pioneer in the music industry, laying the foundation for artistic ownership in which future musicians such as French music duo, Daft Punk, would follow to gain control of their own music and style, according to theguardian.com article, “Prince: a musical legacy like no other.”
Through his music, from the sometimes grotesque themes of his songs to the valiant efforts in protecting his music, and that of other musicians, and expressive appearances, Prince was able to develop a unique persona that was not only popular with his fans but also with peers and fellow musicians alike. Although his death is tragic, Prince will continue to be remembered through his music and the strides he made as a musician for generations to come.