I rarely use my platform on BucsNation for personal reasons. There are parts of my life that are Bucs, that are my writing career in comics, novels and now film and there's the personal stuff that I keep private with only my inner circle.
I'm going to let you in that inner circle a little bit. I'm a huge Prince fan. Have been since I was 11 years old. When news of his death spread I was completely devestated by the news.
Typically, around the globe the news of the 57-year old legend's demise stunned many, especially in the African American community for him Prince did so much without seeking any praise or glory.
Bucs players like Gerald McCoy and Kwon Alexander exhibited shock at the news. Brent Grimes' wife Miko told us why Prince was so sexy for woman (in her own unique way). Unfortunately, those were really the only connections to the Bucs I could find other than Prince was a regular rotation on the pre-game soundtrack at Raymond James Stadium.
In NFL terms, Prince is regarded in high esteem for putting on one of the best Super Bowl half-time shows in NFL History. Of course, to his fans, it was just another day at the office. I've seen Prince perform live three times in my life and they were the greatest concerts I've ever attended.
I never had the opportunity to meet the man but he was like extended family. You see, since my own father was MIA, Prince's music taught me a lot about life, sex and spiritualality. So many see his sexual innuedo and antics and thinks that's all the man was. He was much more than that. He sung about God, life, social issues and how to love your woman.
Plenty of articles can list his accomplishments and its an easy google search to find them. What I'm talking about is what he meant to his legions of true fans. Those of us who loved the tiny, strange mad genius from Minneapolis.
He was a trailblazer. He was the first artist to fight against his record and win, getting control of his name and his works. People saw he changed his name to an impronouncable symbol and thought he was weird. It wasn't that. He did it because it was a stand against his record company who told him they owned his named and he couldn't release music under the name Prince. You see, Prince had so much music to give the world but the label held him back, sticking to a rigid one album a year restriction. Prince wasn't a stage name - it was the name his mother gave him - Prince Rogers Nelson. And Warner Brothers owned it as they owned his masters and his ability to release music. Amazingly, he fought against that and won - paving the way for today's stars to demand their own control.
He was a pioneer in direct to consumer internet downloads with the NPG club. He claimed he made millions more on downloads of his album Crystal Ball than he ever did on Purple Rain.
He was very concerned with social issues. The Rev. Al Sharpeton revealed in a moment of reflection that Prince gave money to the family of the slain Florida youth Travon Martin but wanted no publicity and even asked Sharpeton to not tell the family where the money came from. He donated instruments to young musicians.
Of course, he had an impact on so many artists of the past and today. He wrote songs that ripped up the charts for Sheila E., Morris Day and the Time, Chaka Khan and Sinead O'Connor. That's really where it was though, wasn't it? The music. It flowed out of him. The word genius is thrown about a lot, but Prince reportedly could play as many as 27 instruments. On some of his tracks, he played every instrument and was his own background vocal. And that voice, few musicians can command and dominate a falsetto like Prince could, then go deep in his register delivering an unbelievable range, then punctuate it with a blood curdling scream that the scream queens of the 80's would envy. He pioneered the "Minneapolis sound".
He had a style all his own. He wore custom made outfits, changed his hairstyle and look so much you never knew what to expect from him. No man could be so in touch with his feminine nature and still make the ladies knees quake. Prince wasn't gay, not that it would have mattered to his fans. He had many loves - Denise Matthews (aka Vanity), Sheila E. (my own school boy celeb crush), Apollonia, Carmen Electra (Whom he named, btw, her real name is Tara Leigh Patrick), Madonna (yes, the Material Girl and his royal purpleness dated briefly) and Mayte Garcia. He worshipped Mayte and the couple tried to have children. Unfortunately, his first child passed away one week after birth from a rare birth defect. The second was a miscarriage and it eventually led to the couple's split. He would marry again, Manuela Testolini and converted to religion of Jehova's Witness, but the couple never had children and that too ended on the rocks with an amicable divorce.
Someone once asked me what my favorite Prince song was. Its impossible for me to choose one and frankly, I can't think of him in single tracks. I think of him in eras. My favorite era, the one I call Classic Prince, is from 79-89. This is the time period he was at his pinnacle, dominating the charts and challenging boundries. That's not to say what followed wasn't great - it most certainly was - but that's my go to Prince playlist.
I find it fitting that the last song he performed publicly was Purple Rain, as it should be.
I'm disappointed I won't be able to see him play once more but in my heart, I know he's funking with Bowie, Hendrix and John Lennon right now.
Yesterday was a particularly difficult day for me and my own lovely wife, who knew my love for Prince's work prepared for me the little shrine you see pictured in this article. I came home to Prince music and this shrined. We mourned and we celebrated the life of this amazing little man from Minneapolis.
All day I thought of the quote from Hamlet -
Good night, Sweet Prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Thank you for letting me share this with you. Now back to the Bucs draft talk!