Today, in the midst of an emotionally moving day of news coverage in Los Angeles, I got wind of a reporter at the Arizona Republic who is working on a story on a pop artist other than Michael Jackson: Prince.
Actually, it is far from a stretch and quite interesting that the 25th anniversary of Prince’s “Purple Rain” comes at a time when pop music fans are celebrating the life (in death) of the man that helped pave the way for the artist out of Minneapolis.
Where before Prince had been considered too risqué for radio (“1999” and “Little Red Corvette” being the rare exceptions), Jackson, in the early 80s, opened the door to acceptance and open mindedness that allowed Prince to finally be taken seriously and provided more wide-scale airplay, including on MTV.
As with Jackson’s “Beat It,” where Eddie Van Halen’s guitar riffs further demonstrated that dance and rock could coexist, Prince utilized electric guitar quite regularly in the midst of his signature drum machines and synthesizer to create a sound he could call his own. And, while Prince’s dance moves have always recalled James Brown in his prime, those in his creation, The Time—including Morris Day and Jerome—moved like Michael, to great effect.
It is almost eerie, then, all things considered, that “Purple Rain,” an ode to the afterlife, would be released on June 25th (the date of Jackson’s death) in 1984. Prince, as with countless other artists, owes a debt of gratitude for his livelihood to a man who was, today, finally laid to rest.