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A Prince Among Men | Music Notes

By the time most of you read this, somewhere around one week will have passed, give or take, since the shocking news of the untimely death of Minnesota’s favorite son, Prince Rogers Nelson.

For more than three decades, the multi-talented, shy, sometimes reclusive artist, produced scores of hits not only for himself, but for Chaka Khan (I Feel For You), The Bangles (Manic Monday), Sinead O’Connor (Nothing Compares 2 You), and scores of others.

By now you’ve heard it all, but it bears repeating. Prince was remarkable in many ways. He recorded his first album at 18, and he and his first manager, Owen Husney, talked the record company, Warner Brothers, into giving him complete creative control as producer and A&R. Prince determined what songs went on the album, how they were recorded, and, by the way, he played every instrument himself and sang every note. Later in his career he would prove open to collaborations, and went on to record 39 albums, selling over 100 million copies, and won seven Grammy Awards.

From the first time the public was introduced to the gender-bending, and genre-bending artist, he oozed sensuality from the top of his poofy hairdos to the bottom of his stiletto pumps. His male fans were forced to consider their feminine sides, while women were empowered in ways not seen before in music. He was a champion for women, and even though he was not the stereotypical image of masculinity, his female fans adored him. He was bold enough to scream out in the hit song I Want to Be Your Lover, “ I want to be your brother. I want to be your sister and your mother, too.” He related to women through his androgyny and undeniable sexuality.

His graphic and overtly sexual lyrics, still a novelty in the early 1980s, ultimately was the catalyst for Tipper Gore’s Parental Warning Labels that would adorn every album, CD (and cassette) as a black text bar from the 80s forward.

At a time when R&B artists such as Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, Lionel Richie and Peabo Bryson were topping the charts, Prince came out with something entirely different. He fused blues, rock and R&B, to cross genres, and racial divides, making him accessible to fans world-wide.

We’ve heard from celebrities, President Obama, and from fans around the world, but here’s what a few musically-inclined residents along the Grand Strand had to say about the passing of an icon.

“When I first started listening to Prince I was getting in to punk. He was like a black punk-funk-rocker, and I really liked his music, especially his less-commercial stuff.” – Clifton Parker

“When I look back on the soundtrack of my life, and my musical influences, Prince is one of the first that comes to mind without even thinking. He was one of the best singers, songwriters, guitarists, and entertainers of all time. I can’t believe he’s gone. “Icon” is an understatement.” – Ronnie O’Briant

“He inspired generations, and will continue to inspire guys like me.” – Shaun Brown

“Super influential to so many as a guitarist and instrumentalist. His ideas were fresh and made you want to explore the possibilities of music further.” – McKinley Devilbiss

“I love Prince. Sign of the Times is my favorite. It’s sad that he is gone but we are blessed to have had the pleasure of his amazing talents and beautiful music.” – Angie Capone

“When you're dealing with the musician/entertainer pie there are a lot of artists who have a portion, some more than others, but Prince had the recipe.” – Drew Voivedich

“Not only was he a great songwriter, but he was a killer guitarist, too.” – Chris Alley

“When Purple Rain came out, I was 21. I remember being captivated by Prince’s energy and charisma, to say nothing of his otherworldly musical chops. More than anything I admired his refusal to be pigeonholed—and his hard-won battle to retain control of his catalog.” – Roger Yale

“He single-handedly made the 1980s badass.” – Jason Klocker

Prince will go down in the annals of pop music as one of the singularly-named artists we all know; Elvis, Madonna, Lennon, McCartney, Dylan, Hendrix… and he will be missed.

Have a thought, comment or newsworthy item for Weekly Surge Music Notes? Send an email to pgrimshaw@sc.rr.com

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