Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince - My Favorite Musician of All Time, Transformed - April 21, 2016

I'm sitting here listening to 1000 X'S & O'S from Prince's 2015 CD HITnRUN Phase One. In shock.

The news of my Favorite Musician of All Time passing on came just moments after writing an article about Professional Wrestlers dying too young. I had heard about Chyna passing and it took me back to the days when I enjoyed watching wrestling on TV. Then... a message from a friend "did you hear about your man?" Friends know me well enough to know that I have Loved Prince since 1981 when my friend Michael from High School introduced his music to me. At that moment, when MTV had entered my life and I was discovering Adam and the Ants, Elvis Costello, Oingo Boingo and a myriad of new music, PRINCE would change my perception and widen my spectrum.

To me, Prince was the Mozart of the 20th century. He played 27 instruments. From my understanding, he mastered 15 of them by the time he was just 13. His second album was written, arranged, composed, produced and performed by Prince alone. His last album, HITnRUN Phase Two is his 39th. Think of that. He has been in the industry since 1978 and was still going strong in 2016!

1999 was the first album that I recall owning. I remember seeing and feeling the energy in that masterpiece. And yes, the sexual frequency bubbled over. I was 18, in college and my liberal mindset was taking shape. Naturally we, 1999 and I were a great fit.

When "Let's Go Crazy" was released as a single in 1984, I immediately checked out the B Side. Oh did that pay off! Prince always released AWESOME B Sides, including my favorite song "How Come U Dont Call Me Anymore" I was the Program Director and Music Director for my college radio station so I was in charge of the music and going through all of the new stuff coming in to us. I gave myself the 11AM to 1PM slot Monday - Friday because I knew that's when we'd have the most listeners. After giving the song a few spins (in production mode) and with a HUGE smile on my face, I premiered the song at noon. "Hey, I'm in college and we're all adults here so no one should be offended." Well I got away with it the first time.... and the second. But by the time I was ready to spin a third, our station adviser called the studio and told me in no uncertain terms to "NEVER PLAY THAT SONG AGAIN". We'd locked horns before so this was nothing new. Well, after some yelling and arguing about the first amendment, I agreed. The next morning, I walked into the studio with a brand new record. It wasn't the single. It was the 7" extended mix. At noon, I locked the studio door, took the phone off the hook and played the song over and over again. When no one could get in touch with me, the tech was called and they pulled the plug on the transmitter. Needless to say IT WAS THE MOST EXCITING DAY OF MY RADIO CAREER thanks to Prince and his lyrical, lustful, imaginative open mind! ... By the way, the controversial sentence in question contained the F word. And it wasn't the one you're thinking of. It was Funk. But it "sounded too close". Oh darling Nikki. (I heard that dozens of times on Q-107 in DC before they had to censor it.)

"Sign O' the Times". 1987. Life Changing! This album is a Masterpiece and had far reaching impact on so many. How far reaching was it? CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) Magazine said that "Prince's song "The Cross" was one of the best Christian songs of 1987. That's how far reaching.

"Batman" Sountrack - Groundbreaking! Nuff Said!

"Graffiti Bridge" Soundtrack - Brilliant!!! Nuff Said!

In October,1991 I was homeless for a short time. I lived in my car while saving money to rent a small apartment. Heartbroken and depressed I tried saving every dime and I never told anyone about my circumstances at the time. I had always found solace in music and so when I heard that Diamonds and Pearls had just been released, I made my way to the record store and bought it. It was the perfect message to carry me through. I must have listened to it 100 times the first night.

1992 "Prince logo.svg" - "7" In love. In flight.
Sadly I never got to see Prince in concert. In 1993 I was all set to buy tickers for the Prince logo.svg (Love Symbol) tour when we had a huge April blizzard in Baltimore. With the phone lines knocked out and no way to buy tickets, I decided I'd see him next time. That "next time" never came.

When the year 1999 finally arrived, Prince's music was changing and I was less interested. I was working on one of the first internet radio stations in Pennsylvania and programming indie and unsigned music. "Chaos and Disorder" "Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic" "The Vault" and the like just weren't doing it for me. I bought them anyway but they didn't Rock me the way "Emancipation" had.I even stopped looking for his music. But Prince was getting sneaky, releasing music online only or via certain other venues so that only the most hardcore fans could find it. I even missed "Musicology". It was in 2009 when Prince again was a blip on my radar. I'd heard the single "Chocolate Box" from "Lotusflow3r". He was back! Actually HE had never left. I did. But now I was back and soon discovered "3121" and "Planet Earth". "20Ten" followed and I was again hooked.

Even the most devout fans can sneeze and miss a release from Prince. "PlectrumElectrum" TOTALLY off my radar. Well, in my defense, I don't listen to radio anymore. Nor do I check his fan websites regularly. NO EXCUSE MICHAEL! None!

Happily I heard about HITnRUN Phase Two becoming available just days after the Purple one took his leave. It was actually available in late 2015 via Tidal streaming... Sneaky! I told you! Sneaky. One thing we can be sure of; Warner and Paisley Park will not let us forget him. I'm positive there will be music spilling from his vaults (rumors have circulated for years that there are thousands of unreleased tracks) and hidden gems. And did you know that Prince wrote "Nothing Compares 2 U", "Manic Monday" "When U Were Mine"... and even co-wrote "Stand Back" with Stevie Nicks?

Prince was indeed the Mozart of the 20th century. In my mind, he was (I can't believe I'm writing about him in the past tense) the greatest musician of all time. That's a bold statement. But for his biggest fans, even fickle ones like me, it rings true. I think Prince said it best for those of us. Ask your mother, your sister, your brother -  there'll never be another never be another like me.

 - Michael

With Gratitude,

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Ring Technicians Gone Too Soon

In my career as a radio talk show host I've been privileged to meet many entertainers, including professional wrestlers. I can tell you that these performers are not only great athletes and actors but are always under so much stress to perform at top level every single day. Most of them work well over 300 days a year and it seems their jobs and income are always on the line.

In a way it's not surprising that they are gone so early but in another way it is. And it's heartbreaking. Many are gone in their 30's and 40's. Some even younger.

I started viewing Mid South and Mid Atlantic Wrestling with my Granddaddy Semones at age 5 when the territories were strong and exciting. I always liked the story lines more than the actual matches. The interviews and altercations were what made my eyes open wide and pay close attention. I'll never forget the antics of Managers like "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Bobby "the Brain" Heenan, Paul Heyman, Captain Lou Albano, Joel Gertner and Jim Cornette! Announcers like Jim Ross, Jerry "The King" Lawler, Lance Russel Joey Styles and the one and only Gordon Solie! And of course, the ring technicians and entertainers who made me jump up and down on my sofa every Saturday. Roddy Piper, The Freebirds, Buzz "Mad Dog" Sawyer, Terry Funk, Sting, Mick Foley (in any persona) Rob Van Dam, Shane Douglas, The Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff, Ricky Steamboat, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, Andre the Giant, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, (okay... Hulk Hogan) "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, Arn Anderson, the Four Horsemen and their leader and greatest champion of all time... "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Plus many many more that I haven't mentioned here.

I don't watch wrestling anymore. The love faded away after WCW folded and my friend Vance passed on. Vance was in his 30's too. But I still have a deep respect for the men and women who perform in this business. And every time I hear that one of them has passed, I think back to the wonderful people I met and the great memories I have because of them. - Michael