Some rock and a whole lot of funk, that was “Soft and Wet,” a track from the 1978 album “For You” that put Prince on the cover of Right On magazine. That cover was my introduction to the artist I would romance in my dreams for the next 30 years.
Over the course of Prince’s career — one cut short too early with his death Thursday at the age of 57 — the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had many names and no name at all. He was Jamie Starr, Alexander Nevermind, The Purple One and a symbol we replaced with The Artist Formerly Known As. He started bands, refreshed flagging careers, created cult classics and brought us to a new level of understanding when it came to creativity.
He wore guy-liner, a term that hadn’t been applied when started, frilly purple threads and platform boots; but he oozed a manly cool that had me plastering his photos — posters, album covers, magazine tear sheets — on every flat surface of my bedroom, windows included. Every year, I would walk the mile or so from my University District home to the record store on Curtis just west of Livernois to buy the latest Prince album. Whether he was in costume singing in falsetto on “I Wanna Be Your Lover” or taking it deep and serious in a T-shirt and jeans on “4 the Tears in Your Eyes,” on the “We Are the World” benefit album, his music was charged with unrivaled passion and a freakish level of originality.
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