By: Shannon Boatwright
Ok, so I know I’m one of millions upon millions writing about Prince’s death. BUT… I may be one of only a few in the Midlands, SC area actually blogging about it. Prince made a big impact on so many people, in so many different ways. One of the latest quotes I’ve heard since his passing, I heard on the radio during one of my all-too-early morning drives on the way to school. The radio DJ said that the amazing Eric Clapton was once asked, “How does it feel to be the best guitar player ever?” His response, “I don’t know, ask Prince.”
I’m not usually good at remembering quotes and such, but that one stuck with me. I always loved Prince. And I don’t mean I’m just one of the “normal” fans that “loved” Prince. He intrigued me early on. His music caught my attention in ways that other artists did not. He captivated me and ultimately inspired me in ways that to this day, I could not describe. It sounds silly because when I first heard his music, I was very young. When his Purple Rain album was released in 1984, I was only 9 years old! So I heard his music, I knew his voice, I recognized his vibe when I was so young.
And yet, I fast forward to my middle school, high school, college, and on into my professional adult years and his music has never aged. It’s always struck something in me that lit my heart and soul on fire.
I was just talking to my best friend, Tammy, the other day – we were literally mourning his death and recalling memories that flooded our minds when we thought of any of his music. We were both overwhelmed with a memory of being in the tenth grade at a fellow cheerleader’s house for a sleepover party. How cliché, right?! Well, this friend of ours was a big time dancer and her parents had turned the space above their garage into a dance studio, mirrored walls and all. This was REALLY cool and us girls went all out crazy, dancing in that space. We were 15 and 16 years old, genuinely drunk on life in our innocent youth, feeding off of the natural high that lives in the joy of music and dance. And ironically, Tammy and I both vividly remembered dancing to When Doves Cry. For real, we both vividly recalled dancing to Prince that night – each of us dancing as if no one was watching; in our own worlds, rocking out to Prince like nobody’s business! Prince would’ve been proud. Proud that his music allowed us to lose our inhibitions and just let loose. The music literally inspired us and carried us off into our own worlds as we grooved. I remember killing it on air guitar. I can still see us all in the mirrors, rocking out. I think it was then, thanks to Prince’s inspiration, that I began to conquer the art of playing air guitar. 😉
Prince was a huge part of the musical soundtrack of my college years, too – albums ranging from Purple Rain to Diamonds and Pearls to (most unfortunately not found on iTunes) The Gold Experience. When news hit that Prince had passed, special friends from my college days texted me song lyrics and song clips. That’s big time there. Even though we are deep into our professional lives, we couldn’t help but contact each other, even after all these years. Wow…Whew…Wow again….
During my ten years living in Los Angeles, CA, my best night EVER in the City of Angels was the night that I was in the same room with Prince. No lie. No exaggerations here.
One night, my employer gave me the choice to either work an event or to walk the red carpet as “The Girl with Something Xtra.” Well, I’m thankful I made the choice to walk the red carpet instead of getting a paycheck.
Ironically, a dear friend of mine had recently moved to L.A. and she and I cheered together in high school. Yep…she was in that home with the dance studio. She was at that high school sleepover night that my best friend and I remember so vividly, dancing to Prince’s music. She and her husband had just moved into town and I couldn’t think of a better person to invite out on a fabulous night out. I had no idea what to expect, but I thought she’d surely enjoy walking the red carpet on one of her first nights out in Los Angeles. Little did we know that the night would turn out to be so incredibly unforgettable.
I won’t go into all the juicy details… there were many reasons why that night was one of the best nights of my L.A. experience. But, I will say – and I have a dear friend to vouch for me – on that already oh-so-incredible night, when Prince walked through the door, with his cane and a gorgeous woman on either side of him, and the crowd parted as he crossed the small room and sat on his perch that overlooked the dance floor, celebrities literally at his feet, singing his praises…well, time stood still.
As I reflect, I can literally feel the room, smell the room, see the glow of Prince’s hair and his mac-daddy suit, the electricity that filled the air… no lie, the crowd parted…it was a small room… and he was right there…Prince…in all his glory. I think just watching and taking in everyone else’s reaction to him was as priceless as being in the same room with him. It’s quite mind blowing to think back to. My friend, Amy, and I were literally speechless.
After a multitude of “OMGs” and “This Can’t Be Happening” moments, the inevitable happened… Yep, eventually, the club played a Prince song. The crowd went wild, naturally. And in that moment, myself, my high school girlfriend, and a crowd of celebrities ranging from Taye Diggs to Michael Vartan to the cast of “That 70s Show”, all went nuts when we had the opportunity to dance to a Prince song while Prince was right there. All celebrity status went out the window…we all succumbed to the power that was Prince. I vividly remember dancing with Laura Prepon, from “That 70s Show.” She and I had never met, yet we happened to be near each other when Prince’s music played. We jumped up and down like schoolgirls as we looked up and across the room, dancing, holding hands, bouncing up and down, while Prince watched us all.
We all let go of inhibitions, forgot who was who and just gave in to the music. Bad thing is, I don’t even remember which played. In that moment, it really didn’t matter.
Whew, what an experience! Words really just cannot express! I have to admit…when I really think about that night it really was out of this world. If it weren’t for my precious high school girlfriend who was there too, I don’t think anyone would believe me.
Needless to say, hearing of Prince’s death rocked my world. It’s weird…Prince was like an untouchable god, yet at the same time he was a little bit of all of us. What I think most of us failed to realize until he left our world, is that his talent was beyond incredible. Repeatedly since his passing, I’ve been reminded not only of the mark he left on so many of us personally, but of his amazing talent. I could go on and on…
But I’ll hush for now. Go find your favorite Prince songs… listen, reflect, rejoice and just soak in the awesomeness of his many talents. And above all, as the doves cry, remember that we’re all gathered here to get through this thing called life.
So make the absolute best of it!