Nothing Compares to You: A Tribute to Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson was a singer/songwriter born June 7, 1958 in Minnesota. He passed away April 21, 2016. Prince was a singer/songwriter whose work was a range of rock, funk, soul and more, and was even ranked 27 out of 100 Greatest Artists by “Rolling Stone.” He was known as “the most influential artists of the rock & roll era.” This year his 1984 song “Purple Rain” is the theme for Talawanda’s prom. “Purple Rain” was also the title of his sixth studio album on which the track appeared along with his other famous hits “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “I Would Die 4 U.” In addition, “Purple Rain” is the title of the 1984 film that starred Prince and inspired the album.

Prince’s style was one of the most well-known things about him. He wore unique clothing and eccentric makeup. In the 70’s, he wore a series of bright-colored, tight-fitting, and crazy looking clothes with tassels and sequins. The 80’s was more ruffles, knee high boots, low cut shirts, and LOTS of hair gel for Prince! His hair was typically in tight curls, and he rocked the smoky-eyed look along with cat eyes. In 2007 he played the Super Bowl Halftime Show. In 2015 “Billboard” rated Prince’s performance the best followed by U2 (2002) and Madonna (2012). “Sports Illustrated” ranked Prince’s halftime show #2 after U2.

Mr. Rhoton, THS Vice Principal, was heavily influenced by Prince, explaining that he bought his first 45 record “Raspberry Beret” (this is like buying a single song off iTunes today) when he was 11 or 12. Soon after, he bought “Purple Rain.”

“I loved the music. When I was 14 I started playing bass, and loved the music even more. Prince had a lot of great bass lines in his songs.” Mr. Rhoton says.

Mr. Rhoton’s favorite Prince song is “When Doves Cry.” He says it is hard to only pick one! Several years ago Mr. Rhoton and Mr. Edwards (former TMS PE teacher) went to see Prince in concert, and even though he’s been to hundreds of concerts, Rhoton says that Prince’s show was one of the very best.

“The level of musicianship was completely off the charts. He was one of the greatest entertainers the world has ever known.” says Rhoton. “His death is a tragic loss.”

Mr. Gonzales, THS band teacher, also loved Prince’s music growing up. He wasn’t necessarily influenced by it, but he believed his music was very unique. He said his favorite song was “Little Red Corvette.”

“His music is unlike any other artist, past or present. There are very few current performers like what we had with Prince.” says Gonzales. “It was just great music to listen to. He was a true musician. He wrote his own songs, was a great vocalist, and played multiple instruments. He was a very gifted individual.”

Mr. Aerni, English teacher and music fan, says his first memory of Prince was seeing him on a tiny lapel button that comes from one of those gumball or trinket vending machines.

“My parents told me that his music was evil and I shouldn’t listen to it. In fact, I remember watching Prince’s video for ‘When Doves Cry’ on VH1 and feeling guilty for it, like I was committing some horrific act by just watching that video and listening to that song. But it was so catchy…I couldn’t resist!” says Aerni.

Aerni says that he listened to “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor, which was actually written by Prince. He didn’t know this when the song came out and says he probably listened to it hundreds of times.

“That song was all over the radio when I was in sixth grade…which was also the time period when I started being more interested in pop music, and being influenced by it. So, I guess it would make sense that my first exposure to Prince was during that time period, as well.” says Aerni. “And, probably why that one moment of seeing Prince on a button in a vending machine and my parents telling me his music was evil stuck with me so strongly. I don’t believe that now, but I did then.”

Prince wrote over 170 songs in his lifetime. To commemorate Prince’s contribution to music the documentary “Prince: R U Listening,” featuring musicians, friends, and fans, has been released.