Words by: L. Londell McMillan
From The Source Magazine Issue #270 | 2016
The stage is dimly lit, a silhouette of an icon appears in view, and a massive crowd awaits the presence of arguably—yet truly—the greatest all-around artist of all-time. It was a scene some will cherish now for a lifetime, and one many will never ever witness. The level of such musical mastery, the marvel of Prince!
Aptly named Prince Rogers Nelson, an identification befit for a king, Prince (and everything about him) was an extraordinary force of nature and a brilliant artist. Prince defied all the conventional limitations of creativity; he also possessed an intellect and fearless drive to power his peerless talent. He’s been dubbed a “modern Mozart” by some, however, the profound gifts of Mozart can’t even compare to the prolific Prince in a pound-for-pound matchup or jam-session.
Prince was really that awesome.
He had an incomparable arsenal of creativity with a unique fusion of influences and styles. He was an innovator and transformative figure unlike anyone ever in music. As Billboard described it, “Prince’s legacy as a musician, a singer, a style icon, and endlessly creative mind is nearly unparalleled.”
Since Prince’s transition on April 21, 2016, many people, from all walks of life, have come forward to pay well-deserved homage to a man who has influenced and inspired generations of music lovers in all genres of music with his style, controversy, love, surprise, social activism, bravado and grace. He won every type of an award in music, sold over 100 million records and wrote more all-time great songs—ever—than any other artist. Prince was music’s ultimate game-changer and he certainly had a profound impact on the style, format, music and mindset of major artist superstars, fusing his funk, rock, R&B, and pop together. Artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Dave Navarro, Duran Duran, D’Angelo, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Gwen Stefani, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Janelle Monaé, Maxwell, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and many more were all influenced by the monumental talents and ideals of Prince.
Many more over time will marvel over Prince. The master musician and singer with his signature falsetto and deep baritone range. The exciting and provocative performer. The celebrated songwriter. The style icon—a true music super-hero. Conversely, I will remember most his generosity and loving personality. I will also forever be grateful for his friendship and the “once in a lifetime” opportunity he gave me to serve as his lawyer, manager and partner for over a decade. What a wonderful experience to protect and be protected by this giant force in such a small yet powerful frame. Prince was the ultimate rock star, artist and friend. Indeed, like all of us, he had his unique share of issues. (Who doesn’t?) Really, who wants to claim perfection? How would your issues pan out under the intrusive spotlight and grand lens of public scrutiny 24/7? Prince was a king who had a wealth of endearing qualities, which made it an honor to share in his personal presence. Not because he was a celebrity, but because he was thoughtful, engaging, curious, wise, witty, cool, giving and he cared for things greater than himself. Prince had a passion and fire that burned for love, justice, and freedom. The “Slave” crawl was far more than just a poke at the contractual injustice in the music industry, or his fight to free himself from Warner Brothers. It was far more than a prelude to the Emancipation album and phase of his boundless commercial freedom. Prince was layered and far from someone you can read from the surface. The vast array of musical and creative dimensions he’s loved for publicly can also be stated about the depth of his personal character. Prince enjoyed spending quality time with friends talking, debating, listening to music, playing basketball, bowling and going to shows. We had a marvelous time for over 20 years of our friendship. These are the times I will miss the most. To most, he was an icon. To me, he was my friend.
There are so many moments and memories of Prince that I could share, but my heart is too heavy and I will choose to keep them private for now. The business and legal gains we made are facts of history now. While some may fail to properly share the stories and give credit on the inventive and transformative changes we made in the music and entertainment industry, the truth is difficult to contain. Simply put, Prince was also one of the most courageous and clever artists and people I’ve ever met. He had a remarkable spirit and came here to do amazing work.
Grand superlatives are common in death and in the music business, but even great accolades with powerful meanings fall flat and short in describing the impact of Prince’s legacy. The truth is that Prince was simply a “once in forever” gift from the creator, who has now “emancipated” him from this thing we call life and called him back home.
Now, fast-forward to Saturday, April 23, at Paisley Park Studios. The stage is dimly lit and a silhouette of an icon appears in view. A very small crowd of family, friends and loved ones gather to show their love. It was an experience those who attended the Celebration of Life for Prince will never forget, as the world now cherishes the moments, memories and music of our dearly beloved Prince.
RIP Brother Prince!
To find out more about Prince’s legacy read our article here.