Growing into womanhood, I loved me some Prince! Like most young women, I had a crush on one of the Jacksons and then the Sylvers, but when Prince came on the scene, it was love at first sight. He was the bad boy of my day, but in a different way. Prince blurred the lines and pushed past pre-imposed boundaries. Prince embraced his masculine and feminine self and flaunted it. He was gender fluid before we even knew what it was. He was super sexy and spiritual at the same time. His creative genius was evident in music that defied categorization. A little bit pop, a little bit soul, a little bit rock and roll--and beyond.
During the Purple Rain period, I was a Prince-loving fool! His concert at the Rosemont Herizon sold out before I could get tickets. When I heard on the radio that another show was being added, I was determined to be in the place. So, my niece and I hatched a plan. We decided to camp out at the venue so we’d be in line when the tickets went on sale. Even though we were grown and working, my mother still wanted to know our whereabouts. I don't know what lie we told to leave the house at 2:00 am, but we managed to get out.
We went by a friend's house and gently knocked on the window and told her to come outside. When she got in the car, we told her the plan. She laughed, said we were crazy, but went along for the ride. When we arrived there were about 50 people ahead of us. We set up our chairs and blankets and got our place in line. Though it was an Indian summer October, it was still cool at night. And we settled in for one of the greatest experiences of my life! Somebody was selling snacks and hot chocolate. We met people who had camped out before, and they gave us pointers. We sang songs. We played games. And when the box office opened, we bought our tickets. I went into the bathroom of the Rosemont, cleaned up and changed my clothes for work. When the concert rolled around, I had purple everything including purple panties! I even put a purple streak in my hair. And I am not a huge fan of concerts. There are very few people I like to see perform live.
I’m happy that I got to see Prince live in my lifetime. It was a great concert experience despite the fact the Rosemont was a huge space and it was hard to see Prince on the stage. This was before they had the concerts broadcast on the big screens. I remember going to the movies to see Purple Rain, and they had over-sold the theater. We were late and ended up sitting on the stairs, but we didn’t care. We just wanted to be in the presence of his Royal Highness. I look back and laugh at my obsession with Prince and all things purple. I still love purple.
Even after my obsession waned, I still liked him as an artist. And I always like what he stood for. Prince was unapologetically Prince. He was a musical genius who dared to be different and did. He didn’t follow trends, he was a trendsetter. He gave us permission to just go crazy. And even though Prince was risque, he ironically reminds me of a time of innocence, purity and simplicity. It was a great time to be young and unencumbered.
As I reflect on the legacy of Prince Rogers Nelson, my biggest take away is: Be You! Everyone else is taken. Prince lived that; he was one of a kind. His physical presence will be missed, but his energy and his spirit will reign always and forever in the purple places of our hearts.