Since the announcement of Prince’s passing, I’ve finally taken the time to educate myself and listen to his music, trying to learn from the different records he’s put out over the past 40 years.
Prince was an artist who’s transcended music: he was moving across other arts, has influenced the world of fashion, and was so influential that he’s amongst the handful of human beings that have done more for the acceptance of others, regardless of their identities, gender and sexuality, than most politicians, regulators, or even artists.
But coming back to the music, I was impressed to learn that he simply knew everything about music: creating and playing, of course, but also all of the technical aspects that go into making and publishing a record. Legend has it that he showed up to a Music Studio as a teenage musician, and impressed the owner so much that the latter gave him a job working some of the machines (remember this is the 80’s, we take it for granted that one could potentially create, produce and release an entire album from a computer or an iPad nowadays.)
I’ve done a lot of reading over the past week or so, adding articles from the New York Times, Pitchfork, the New Yorker, Rolling Stones, The Atlantic, and many others, on to my Instapaper queue. However the piece that’s actually done the best job at explaining who Prince was as an artist was probably the personal one written by Michael Oates-Palmer for Vox.com
I remember being again stunned by his guitar playing. He was so good at everything else — singing, songwriting, dancing, being his crazy self — that we so rarely talk about how phenomenal a guitar player he was.
That second part of the quote also hits the spot:
Think of that: probably the fourth skill in his toolbox, and he was one of the 10 greatest guitar players of all time. One of the only ones of the last 30 years where even if you hear just three-seconds of a lick, you instantly know it’s him.
Properly listening and discovering Prince, I’ve come to realise that what I had in mind when thinking of “crazy 80’s guitar solo” was actually Prince. 80’s trademark sounds: Prince. Some of the biggest hits in the history of pop music? Yep: Prince too!
Between the deaths of Prince and David Bowie, 2016 has left a giant gap by taking away two seemingly immortal legends responsible for some of the best party anthems we’ve ever heard, at a time when the love and partying would be much appreciated. Like Bowie, Prince will be sorely missed, however I’m grateful to live in a day an age where it’s so easy to discover so much about these artists. Time to educate myself.