Remembering Prince: tributes from TBC’s global staff of writers and editors

Remembering Prince: tributes from TBC’s global staff of writers and editors

Prince Rogers Nelson passed away on April 21, 2016. Here, the staff of Third Bridge Creative pays tribute by sharing its insights and personal stories on the inimitable, profoundly influential artist. Collage artwork by Jack Putney.

I never saw him perform. I’ve crossed many of the all-time greats off my bucket list over the years—Kris Kristofferson solo-acoustic at the Continental Club in Austin, Paul McCartney closing out Candlestick Park, James Brown at, uh, a winery—but I never managed to catch Prince. The closest I came, which is going to sound ridiculous but hear me out, was seeing a Vegas cover band called Purple Reign. The legend of Purple Reign’s verisimilitude was such that it justified what became a comically long and expensive roundtrip cab ride to one of those low-rent casinos 40 minutes from the strip; that they were performing at such a place only increased the allure. We managed to catch the whole show, in an auditorium that was maybe a tenth full, with my group of friends comprising most of that number, along with one old dude in an astonishingly dapper white suit. (Here’s video proof, shot on a flip phone with no sound, and posted in 2006; watch at your own risk.) Purple Reign were transcendent. In hindsight, I would have driven twice as far to see them. Their “Prince” possessed that exacting combination of lissome sexuality and cutting standoffishness of the man himself. Their “Morris Day” was the perfect foil. The band drove the man’s songs like Formula One racers at maximum speed, pushing the funk into the red, taking all the corners like pros. They were a cover band, sure, but the fact that the real thing was such an incredible force of nature as to echo, resoundingly, all the way to a tiny bumblefuck casino, laying waste to me and my wasted friends that night—well, it comes as no surprise, really. There’s some solace to be had in knowing that these echoes will continue. — Garrett Kamps

I became a music fan in the ‘90s, when Prince didn’t want to be called Prince and recoiled from the music industry, and seemed like an enigma that I didn’t care to understand. So I was in college by the time the biggest Prince fan I knew, my friend Mat, made me a mixtape that bowled me over with amazing songs I’d never heard on the radio, like “She’s Always In My Hair” and “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “Tamborine,” and I was hooked. It wasn’t just that he was equally capable of sultry slow jams, scorching hard rock, tender piano ballads, funky dance tracks, and innovative electronic pop—it was that almost every single album sat those different styles next to each other, and forced you to appreciate the same wide range of music that he loved. He wasn’t sampling or DJing or writing about different genres like so many of us do so easily and proudly now, he was playing them with total commitment and proficiency. Last year, I was assigned to cover his 2015 “Rally 4 Peace” concert in Baltimore, which I had to miss because my son was born the same day. I don’t regret that, but I do regret every other time I missed a chance to see Prince live. — Al Shipley

The notion that Prince is dead is difficult to comprehend. It does not compute, as he might’ve said. It never occurred to me that someone could put those three words together in that order and have them be anything other than gibberish. I saw him at his solo piano show at the Paramount in Oakland earlier this year. I paid over $300, which is the most I’ve ever even considered paying for a ticket, and was treated to raw, intimate takes on “The Beautiful Ones,”  “Little Red Corvette,” and “The Love We Make,” among many many others. The power that he wielded and the intensity that he generated were overwhelming. He was really forging diamonds up there, and every moment and every second of that show were precious. The loss is profound and unexpected. I’ll hold those memories tight, and be grateful for everything that he gave us. — Sam Chennault

It took me a long time to see Prince. When he toured for Purple Rain, I was immersed in The Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen. But over the years, my interest grew until his music became something I could count on. Well, maybe not every record, but there were a lot to choose from. When he came to Toronto five years ago, some friends and I scored tickets too high up in the stadium for my liking, but still, I was going to see Prince. On the day of the show, we learned that it wasn’t sold out and that the previous night people with tickets like ours were given upgrades to the 100 level. We decided to see if the same offer was being made and approached a rep to ask if anything could be done. He frowned and flipped through some sheets on a clipboard, then told us to stand aside and wait. He walked away. We waited. He returned and handed us lanyards and wristbands and told us to give away our old tickets. A few minutes later, some very baffled people had free tickets to the show, and we were being escorted stage-side to the Purple Circle. What followed was two and half hours of incredible music, having Prince’s beautiful eyes look down on me, and getting to share it with some of my dearest friends. “Purple Rain” was the second song. It took months before I didn’t find purple confetti in my purse and clothes. Goodbye, Beautiful One. Joanne Huffa

I saw him once, out of what I thought was curiosity more than anything else. I had grown up with Prince in the weather and generally liked and respected him, but in 2010 I was nowhere near the kind of devotee I’d come to realize so many friends and colleagues were. At the time, I felt like I was a bigger fan of other people’s Prince fandom than of Prince himself. Then all that changed, pretty much instantaneously. Or, to be more precise, in however much time (very little) it had taken Prince to open his show and, by the third song, find himself on his knees on top of his purple piano wailing through “The Beautiful Ones” as if all the music in the universe channeled through him alone. The third song! It was unbelievable, and the night by no means reached its apex there. “He blew a kiss to the crowd with what seemed like an extra hand that materialized during a guitar solo in ‘Cream,’” I wrote in a review the next day. I still remember that moment and think of it often, among so many others. I’d have shaken that third hand if I could. — Andy Battaglia

Last time I saw him was nearly a year ago. He was doing two shows the same night at a venue in Toronto, and I was offered a ticket to the later show. I thought, Well, obviously he can’t be half as great as he was years ago, and he’ll no doubt be tired after doing a whole other early show, maybe he’ll only do new songs, but what the hell, he’s Prince, right? And it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen—more than three hours long, packed with all the hits and all the songs I hardly dared to hope I’d hear. Such charismatic, unbelievable energy, absolutely searing guitar, awesome dance moves, song after song after song, ending with a super-extended “Purple Rain” and there was NOBODY in that room who wasn’t standing and singing and waving their arms with him. We are all going to feel his loss. — Mary Dickie

My first exposure to Prince was the 2007 Super Bowl. I was 19 years old, a former high school football player and (at the time) current musician, barely interested in the halftime show. I was in a suburban basement surrounded by jocks who felt the same. But when I heard him launch into “Let’s Go Crazy”—“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called ‘life’”—I couldn’t tear myself away. How could anyone care about the Super Bowl after hearing that? I had to have more. When I finally saw him years later, his insanely versatile show melted my brain. I’d never, ever seen an arena show that made me believe in the power and joy music is capable of generating until then. Springsteen and the full original E Street Band lineup came incredibly close. But six encores of soul-shaking funk after an already brilliant 90-minute set was like having special purple-tinted liquid energy injected into your veins. I forced the kitchen staff I worked with for years to listen to Purple Rain on repeat for days. “Kiss” has been my go-to karaoke song for a decade now. “Nothing Compares 2 U” stops me in my tracks and chokes me up every time. As a lover of guitar, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone play in a way that turned the instrument into such an extension of themselves, exploding with so much life that you’d think maybe if you cut it, it would bleed. As I was a kid from the Canadian Prairies, eight hours north of his hometown of Minneapolis, he forced me to realize that your ability to create something beautiful doesn’t depend on where you come from. When I watched the video today—for the billionth time—of his guitar solo during “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for him and George Harrison, I had to fight back tears, and I still am as it plays again in the background as I write this. At the end of his solo he tosses his guitar straight up into the sky, and it never comes down. I can only assume he picked it back up in heaven, where it landed. — Matt Williams

The year’s second unexpectedly momentous rock death snatches away another master of metamorphosis. Like David Bowie, Prince contained multitudes—often on the same album. (Miles Davis called him a combination of James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, and Charlie Chaplin.) He spun off side projects with enviable ease, both declaring and hiding his presence under aliases like Joey Coco, Jamie Starr, and Alexander Nevermind. He was a small man of big emotions—and appetites—who forged entire sonic universes in a Minnesota studio. I’m delighted to have enjoyed Prince in his orgasmic 1983 glory, during his politically incorrect ’93 tour (during which he fashioned himself as a dashing if diminutive Disney hero who rescues a princess from Middle Eastern party poopers), and, most strangely, exuding cosmic cool for exactly seven minutes in my Brooklyn backyard as Maceo Parker’s unannounced guest in ’06. Now the party’s over—whoops, out of time—and the world’s a little less colorful and a hell of a lot less sexy. — Richard Gehr

In 1999, I worked on the website for the British music show Top of the Pops, and Prince came in to record a set with his band (including, to my particular delight, Larry Graham from Sly and the Family Stone) to promote the album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic. An email had gone around the team stating categorically that no one was to attempt to look at Prince as he walked the long corridor at Elstree Studios from the dressing rooms to the set. At the time, I was sniffy about this, reasoning that even astonishing musical talents could perhaps calm down on the control freakery from time to time. Now I think it’s probably fair enough. If your job is to be stared at, why put up with it before you’ve had a chance to pick up your guitar? In any event, I happened to be out there, probably waiting for interview time with Wamdue Project or A1, when a kerfuffle came toward me. Burly men in formation came rolling down the blue carpet, clearing a path and eyeballing gawping onlookers, and in the middle, a slight figure, looking down as if in another world—it was Prince! I looked. I looked HARD. I didn’t care if there were consequences, and thankfully, the people responsible for doling them out missed my gaze and kept on going. So I stood and I looked, holding the moment for minutes after they’d vanished into an important doorway. I remember looking more than I remember the performance (which I loved). I remember looking more than I remember being 13 and taking Purple Rain on cassette as I did my paper round, which I did a lot. When I think of him, I remember looking, despite being told not to. How could you not look? It was Prince. — Fraser McAlpine

Prince’s passing almost seems like a physical impossibility, and certainly a spiritual one. He always appeared to be too sly, too strong-willed to fall into the traps that felled other artists. Substance abuse? Not for him. He was as straight-edge as Ian MacKaye, though his abundant sexuality made it obvious he was anything but ascetic. Label troubles? Nope. When he started locking horns with his label, he simply split for greener pastures: his own, working on his own imprint at a time when that was still a radical move for artists of his tier. Age? Right up until his death, he seemed to possess a superhuman stamina onstage. There never came a time when his artistic inspiration flagged either; he put out two new albums just last year, and two the year before that. And as far as cheating the calendar, into his late 50s, Prince remained trim, lithe, and almost shockingly youthful-looking. So finding out that he was taken from us at the age of 57 almost seems like some sort of bizarre prank he’s playing on us all. For now, at least, that’s the way I’d like to look at it. We may not be in on the joke, but somewhere up there, Prince is laughing his ass off at a hell of a purple punch line. — Jim Allen

When I was 16, my cheezball boyfriend gave me a cassette of Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls and proceeded to use it to try to wear down my Good Midwestern Girl values. Subtlety may not have been his strength. It was a confusing time on many levels, one of the many backlashes of which was that I went home and rooted around in a dusty stack in an underused cabinet of our family room to tug out an album my older sisters had been noticeably passionate about seven years earlier. This, this is what that guy Prince is good for—this actually heats me up. And so, Purple Rain became the soundtrack to my senior year in high school. I pressed some buttons and recorded a cassette tape off the vinyl (the horror!) and played it in the car and brought it to parties and memorized the spoken-word intro to “Let’s Go Crazy.” I’m nearly certain that in the privacy of the car or probably my bedroom I “hooo-ooo-oo-oo”ed along with “Purple Rain” and vented all the vague, mostly baseless woes of my 16-year-old heart. To this day, the opening chords of “1999” give me the tiniest little thrill in anticipation of what’s coming, and the lyric “make you good when you are bad” causes me to reconsider spirituality. Through the years, I’ve gone through phases with different albums of Prince’s, but Purple Rain is like a scent to me; the tiniest whiff of it, and I’m flooded with memories, some kind of internal tremor, the weird and reckless things that crash around in your head when you’re right on the verge of a giant leap. I know Prince wasn’t young, but he still seemed vibrant (wasn’t it only last year he made that ridiculous, droll little cameo on the sitcom New Girl?), and knowing that he’s gone is as much about confusion as sadness. Gonna go hoo-ooo-oo-oo a little by myself now. — Alison Aves

I was born and raised in Minnesota, which means I grew up believing Prince really was royalty. Like Bowie, Prince seemed invincible. I mean, how could anyone with that much confidence and swagger even be on the same ego-driven realm as the rest of us silly, emotional humans? I don’t have one standout memory of Prince—his music has always just weaved its way through my life. “Batdance” was the soundtrack for my first gymnastics floor routine—and oh, how I loved that routine. My shyness would evaporate upon those first sizzling strikes of the guitar, and I quickly realized the thrill of losing yourself to a performance. I had always heard Prince was painfully shy, too, and that he stood just a tad bit higher than myself. I loved having even those small, superficial connections with him. Years later, I remember meeting my sister in L.A., driving around town, her young daughter in the backseat, all of us singing along to The Very Best of Prince, a little slice of home comfort as we navigated our way through the City of Angels. Last year, “Let’s Go Crazy” was one of the first tracks I requested be played at my wedding reception. It’s all these little cherished moments. But probably the coolest thing I can say is that I actually got to see Prince perform, at Coachella 2008. Apparently, he covered “Creep.” I don’t even remember it. In fact, I don’t remember much about that performance other than the way it made me feel. That first bit of freedom I felt as a timid little girl on the gym floor came rushing back—and I realize now that no one else could have ignited such profound nostalgia. Thank you, Prince. — Stephanie Garr

When I was young I spent a lot of time downloading albums off Limewire. This would take a long time so I’d listen to track one (say, “Let’s Go Crazy”) while I watched track two (say, “Take Me with U”) move along at 15 kilobytes per second. Then I’d listen to track two while I waited for track three, etc. etc. The process seems so banal now—exactly the kind of bootleg distribution Prince tried to prevent. What a terrible way to listen to music! Except that back then it felt like the best way to listen to music. When I listened to artists like Prince, I’d stay up extra late, listening to song after song until it was time to go to bed. Each one showed me new things that were possible in music and therefore in life. Maybe that sounds too dramatic. The thing I’m trying to get at is that I don’t have a great Prince story or anecdote to share. I discovered his music in the most boring way possible, but from that context he gave me something incredible and showed me something that I might not have been shown otherwise. Thank you for that, Prince. And thank you for all the moments in the following years when I got to hear your music in public and share it with others. Listening to “3121” in study hall. Dancing to “Uptown” when I moved to The City, just north of 191st Street. Last fall, when I played “For You” for my friends who had just eaten mushrooms. So many more—every time it feels like a revelation. — Nick Murray

Prince gave us DJs so many options with his tremendous catalog. His music was a staple at weddings, ‘80s club nights, throwback college parties, and tribute club events all over the U.S. Some DJs have even developed a Prince radar: We know exactly what Prince song you’re going to request based on your age, hair, clothing, and how drunk you are. Drunk women tend to request “Kiss” and “Raspberry Beret,” intoxicated men demand “Let’s Go Crazy.” Not enough people request “I Would Die 4 U,” but I would play it anyway to rousing response, such was the immediacy of the Minnesota maverick. The song that I played more than any other, though, was “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” Not only are those slinky guitar riffs the jam, but Prince’s buttery falsetto conveys every dimension of a man’s passion, from lust to devotion. He coos and baits us with sweet come-ons, then he screams “Oh lover, yeah!” and delivers one of the most heartfelt couplets in “I wanna be your brother, I wanna be your mother and your sister, too.” Through his music, he managed to be all that for listeners, and for me. — Tomas Palermo

I was the deputy editor at an Australian pop magazine in the late ’80s, so we used to call him TAFKAP, as he’d officially announced that he was “the artist formerly known as Prince.” Of course, it was ridiculous. Our art director got cheeky with one story and came up with the headline Imp Of The Perverse. We laughed about that one for weeks, but at the same time I was reviewing “Sign o’ the Times” and “Alphabet Street” and thought they were the funkiest things I had ever heard in my life. Years later, I did a bit of DJing in a beachside bar. Every night I would spin “Alphabet Street” and no matter how slow business was, it got people up on the floor every time. When I visit New York each year, I still can’t walk through the East Village without that song reverberating in my head as I cross Avenue A, Avenue, B, Avenue C. It’s Friday here in Sydney and it feels a lot less funky than it did on Thursday. — Barry Divola

The question of how exactly the Twin Cities managed to birth Prince Rogers Nelson remains an open one. Despite valiant efforts on the part of crate-digging heroes The Numero Group, 2013’s rarities excavation and Hennepin County survey Purple Snow: Forecasting The Minneapolis Sound only serves to highlight The Artist’s many idiosyncrasies. Curios from Maple Grove funk jammers 94 East, embryonic Stylistics-indebted demo tapes from James “Jimmy Jam” Harris, Prince childhood chum André Cymone’s Vanity 6/electro-sleaze knockoff,  The Girls—all have their charms, and nearly all might have hailed from just about any other respectable regional scene of comparable size and demographics. Young Prince’s gaze was always directed outwards, toward San Francisco’s Queen of Disco and future Hi-NRG figurehead Sylvester (whose 1977 “Tipsong” proved a virtual blueprint for The Purple One’s 1978 “My Love Is Forever”), or to Detroit and George Clinton’s post-psychedelic rock/funk collective Parliament-Funkadelic, home to fellow ax shredder Eddie Hazel and like-minded synth fiend Bernie Worrell. So yes, Prince transcended his roots, just like The Beatles outshone and then some every other Merseybeat act ever to scruff their way around Liverpool. He contained multitudes —the multifaceted genius of Ray Charles, the effortless cool and creative appetite of Miles Davis, the bossman skills and rhythmic prowess of James Brown, the pop reach and arena flash of fellow ‘80s trendsetter Michael Jackson. For once, this kind of apotheosizing falls within reason. Of course there was no one else like him. The beautiful ones always smash the picture. Always, every time. — Jason Gubbels

I mean, I don’t have Prince stories like Charlie Murphy has Prince stories. Mostly I have the same stories as everyone who grew up ambitiously and androgynously horny in the ‘80s, on mixtapes and makeout sessions and knowing that Our People were out there somewhere. I was lucky enough to find My People out in San Francisco, and four of us formed a pretty damned funny comedy group that had a decent run. Well, after life had pulled us apart like a fingerless lace glove run through the washing machine, we heard the Balboa Theater was showing Purple Rain on the big screen for its 30th anniversary. So we did what any 40-something freaks would do—we dressed up and went out. When we got there, we were directed to the theater that was holding the costume contest. What? And we won. What?? And they had four prizes: one each for Wendy, Lisa, Prince, and me—Apollonia. No. That was some serious movie magic. And that night brought the number of times I’ve seen Purple Rain to 26. Tonight I’m going to watch it again, drunker than last time, with my old comedy cohort, in celebration of the best guitarist and worst ventriloquist of our generation. — Karen Spiegelman

It’s summer vacation 1980, and I’m back in the Detroit suburbs between sophomore and junior years at Mizzou, hanging out with New Wave friends from my old high school, about to go out Rock-Lobstering or Rocky-Horroring. And Lene Lovich-loving Sharon Liebetreu, who’d seen him on TV (Midnight Special maybe?), starts raving about this new singer Prince, imitating his dance moves and high notes—“I wanna be your LOVE-rrr. I wanna be the only one who makes you come….RUNN-innn’.” I was confused; I’d heard the song a couple times on Casey Kasem, I think, and had vaguely paid attention to it, but wasn’t this, like, a disco guy? Why would Sharon like him?? (I clearly hadn’t heard “Bambi” or “I’m Yours” at that point, had no idea what a rocker he already was.) Within a few months, though, I started to get it—Dirty Mind came out; he did “Partyup” and I think “Uptown” in his bikini briefs on Saturday Night Live; Detroit DJ The Electrifying Mojo put him in heavy rotation on WGPR’s Midnight Funk Association—even the mysterious import B-side “Gotta Stop (Messin’ About)” —and before long, I was reviewing his albums in the Maneater back at school and getting thrown off KCOU for playing him, because college rock stations don’t allow no disco ‘round here. A gigantic turning point in my realization that musical genres are as flexible as you want them to be. It’s gonna be lonely. — Chuck Eddy

Prince finally made it to Australia in May 1992. He completely tore the place apart and when not recording or late night jamming or playing concerts, he was making a film, hiring crews as he went along. One of the people he picked up was my girlfriend’s sister, Jane. She was given the usual instructions to not talk to the artist, don’t look at him etc. Jane, being both gay and very Australian, didn’t care much for the showbiz side of things. She was just a very good cinematographer. There was no script, so scenes were created on purple whims and everyone just went along. Early in the piece, Prince set up a scene and after Jane had lit and prepared everything, despite protocol, she said, “Do you want to look at this through the camera?” Prince was taken aback. “Can I?” he asked, apparently fearful of crossing an artistic/ industrial line. “Sure,” said Jane. “It’s your film, you’re paying for it.” For all the hype and the mystery, Prince was very modest and respectful of people doing creative work. And he had a sense of humor. — Toby Creswell

The surest proof of a musician’s greatness rests in the resiliency of his or her legacy to withstand years and years of post-golden era mediocrity. The Rolling Stones, for example, are still revered as one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time despite the fact that their discography now contains far more crap albums than classic. On the flipside, there’s poor Aerosmith: Their run of albums between 1973 and 1977 is utterly brilliant, yet all those cheesy, unlistenable power ballads they coughed up all throughout the ’90s totally destroyed their legendary stature. Prince falls into the former category. Let’s face it: The guy had released a ton of average to bad music since the early ’90s. None of it, even the stuff that’s pretty decent, makes for essential listening (i.e. it doesn’t add to his cultural value). But it doesn’t matter, because Prince’s genius between 1980 and 1987Dirty Mind, Controversy, 1999, Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Parade and Sign o’ the Timesis so towering and revolutionary and era-defining that he earned that permanent pass from us. Hell, he could’ve released another 20 boring records, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing. We would have still gone on worshipping him as though Purple Rain came out only yesterday. Not even Elvis Presley gets that kind of special treatment. Now that’s true greatness. — Justin Farrar

Prince played my hometown of Melbourne in February. In typical Prince fashion, he’d only announced the local Piano & A Microphone tour the week before the shows. I couldn’t land a review ticket in time and didn’t have the money to shell out for it. Plus, I’d seen him twice on his previous tour to Australia, which had delivered the mythical Prince experience in spades: three-hour long sets, hits, B-sides, encores as long as most other bands’ entire sets, and at one point during the finale of an exhaustive show in Sydney, Prince riding away from the stage and across the floor of the stadium on a bike. Prince. On a bike. The rumor in February was that Prince would do a secret after-show at Melbourne jazz club Bennetts Lane. He’d done just that several times over the years, so it wasn’t a fanciful idea. A mate and I arrived just as they were reaching capacity, the tiny venue crammed with Prince fans—a motley assortment of teenagers, middle-aged jazz dudes, gorgeous women, loners, drunks, indie kids, and diehards—music fans united in their hope that Prince would walk in and sit down at the piano. He didn’t. “I just got a call,” said the venue owner, stepping to the mic and shushing the crowd not long after midnight. “He’s not coming. He’s at Fabric.” We flooded out of the venue furiously searching Google Maps for Fabric, a little-known nightclub on the edge of the city. Driving through the streets of Melbourne at 1 a.m., my friend and I passed a group of kids camping outside a shop in the CBD, waiting for sneakers. “As if you’d do that,” we said. We paused, looked at each other, and laughed. There we were, grown men on a cold weeknight in Melbourne, desperately trying to find out where Prince was. Turns out he was at Fabric. Apparently, he appeared about the same time we decided we couldn’t bear waiting in the huge line and left. He didn’t perform, as we’d hoped, but he danced and mingled with the crowd. When I heard, I was relieved. What would I say to Prince on that dance floor? Thank you for your enormous contribution to music history? Thank you for the songs that make everyone dance at house parties? Thank you for making me well up that time you played “Purple Rain” at the end of your concert in Melbourne? Thank you for making my friend and I feel like a fruitless drive around the city at 2 in the morning was an adventure studded with limitless possibilities? They say Prince left the party at 3:30 a.m. According to a DJ at the venue, he picked up one of the venue’s fruit platters and offered it to another DJ, saying “Would you like some fruit?” Prince handed her the platter and left. — Marcus Teague

My girlfriend shouted, “Prince died?!” and I’m here stunned, semi-numbed, and rushed with myriad emotions. Feelings resurged from a moment when the King of Pop left the face of this earth—prematurely, unmatched, and legendary. Hmm, my verbatim reaction? Not entirely, but close. I scrolled down News Feed and my eyeballs were playing tricks on me, I assured myself. So I took a break from this Guns N’ Roses long-form piece, celebrated 4/20 a day late, accepted my what I saw, and flashed back to the time when I was a part of Tijuana’s flea market lifestyle. A booth adjacent, I am hanging out with the TV retailers who are live-airing 1991’s VMAs performances. A cluster of us kids and preteens gather around. And there he is, the Purple Prince in all of his flamboyant, androgynous glory. Donning a yellow, floral cutout bodysuit, he’s getting funky to “Get Off” with a full-on backing band that provides soulful vocals and lusty grunts. It was an image of ultra swag and über-fluidity, and as I was a Mexican kid from a traditional family, a performance that would change me forever. When I got older, from the time I entered middle school and on, songs like “When Doves Cry” and “Purple Rain” have resonated with me as nothing less than majestic. — Isabela Raygoza

Related Post