R.I.P. * P.R.N. One of my few heroes who was of my own generation. I’m flooded with feelings and memories right now. He was always the standard I held myself to as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, musician and performer. This album changed my life. In 1986 I got the gig as Guitarist/Musical Director for Jill Jones, one of the singers in The Revolution. Prince had produced, written & played most everything on her debut album and the word was that we’d be opening for the man himself in the USA on his “Sign ‘O’ The Times” tour. But then he decided not to tour America and only played shows in Europe (he filmed a Paris concert and released the “Sign ‘O’ The Times” movie in the US instead of touring.)
The Jill Jones band rehearsed 8 hours a day, 5 days per week for 2 solid months at Top Cat studios on West 28th St in Manhattan. It was a killer band with members who went on to play with Little Steven, Meatloaf & Joe Cocker – and we had a back-up singer who was just starting out by the name of ANGIE STONE!! Every night video tapes of the day’s rehearsals would be sent out to Prince for approval. The players got critiqued and some got fired but I remember Jill saying that Prince told her, “The guitar player’s cool, keep him”. I had all these visions of being out there on tour with him, maybe at some point even getting to make some music with him, but the closest I got was meeting him at Nell’s on 14th st one night. He was standing by the dance floor in a white suit and platform heels and I swear the top of his head still only came up to the middle of my face. The band ended up playing 2 gigs with Level 42, (one in Sag Harbor and the other at the old Ritz on E 11th St) and then, the band dissolved.
But before that, I went into the studio for a remix of one of the album’s songs with Jimmy Destri of Blondie doing the honors, and got to hear the genius shit that Prince had laid down at Paisley Park; the funkiest bass, backing vocals & keyboards plus a gorgeous string arrangement that was never used on the original record and a a weird noisy guitar that he had only brought in right at the fade. I learned a lesson in restraint at that moment.
This album is a logical choice to be my favorite Prince album because it is the most like The Beatles White Album; a double album full of different styles & genres all done to perfection. The poetry of “The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker”, “If I was Your Girlfriend” and “Starfish And Coffee”, the melodicism of “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man” and “Slow Love”, the dirty funk of “It” and “Hot Thing”, the heart and soul in the title track and “The Cross” and the general weirdness of it all, even in the single “U Got the Look”.
Man, you will be missed by millions – but it really stings for someone like me who always looked to you as some kind of beacon in this dark business of music. I guess there’s nothing to do but carry on and to keep holding you up as an example of true talent – old school. The Real Shit. I can barely believe I’m typing these words…but as I reflect on all the greats who have left us too early; Bowie, Michael Jackson, Jeff Buckley, Willy DeVille, Chris Whitley, etc. I wonder…what kind of cruel coincidence is it that the greats are taken from us so early and that we are left with a whole lotta crap music and marginally talented artists?