My 15-year-old texted me this morning from his high school class to break the news that “Prince, the singer, has died”. I had mixed emotions at first. My first thought, my 15 year old knows of Prince, I have succeeded at parenting! I was then crushed with the news of his death and had to fact check. The news was true, today we lost a legend.
I was 15 the summer of 1984 when Purple Rain, the album and the film, were released. The summer of 1984. I was in-between my sophomore and junior years of high school, soon to turn 16. We listened to KROQ as if our lives depended on it. Prince and friends – Frankie Goes to Hollywood, General Public, U2, Bronski Beat, The Vandals, Billy Idol, Echo and the Bunnymen, Thompson Twins, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees, INXS, Wham, Duran Duran, The Smiths, David Bowie, Human League, The Psychedelic Furs topped the 1984 playlist. Let that sink in. Somebody go make me a mixtape. 1984 was a good year.
In my cache of life experiences, Prince played a role. Unknowingly and not really, but almost, twice.
In 1984, I got my hair cut at the Carlton Hair in the Westwood Marquis. If you knew me then, this is where I got the squares cut into the back of my new wave hairdo that caused all kinds of drama at school and at work, as a grocery bagger (we weren’t fancy enough to be called courtesy clerks like they are today, we were baggers) at Lucky Market. I spent a lot of time in Westwood in 1984-1985. Was it cool? I thought so and that’s why I got my haircut there. After a haircut, I took the elevator from the 3rd or 4th floor to the lobby. When the doors opened Prince and his giant entourage were there. Boom, like that. The bodyguards ushered me out and around Prince and his entourage and hustled me to the front desk as the group entered the elevators. I was stunned. What just happened. I just saw Prince for all of three seconds. We breathed the same air.
In 1989, I spent 5 weeks driving around the US, National Park hopping,some parts with friends, some parts alone. One of my travelling buddies, a Kiwi with innate love of travel, had a flight home from Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. We spent the day in Minneapolis rollerblading around the lakes and, both huge fans, talking about Prince. We stopped in a café before heading to the airport. On a whim, I declared “if Paisley Park is listed in the phone book, you’re missing your flight and we’re going”. I went to the pay phone near the restroom and…
Pause here for clarification – a phone book is a giant book of names and phone numbers. To find someone’s number and sometimes their address, you had to look up the name of the person or the business in the white pages of the phone book. Phone books were attached to every pay phone by a ridiculously short cable and you had to balance the phone book precariously while looking up the number you needed. A pay phone is a phone mounted to a wall or in a booth that charges you in advance of the call. You had to either rotary dial or push buttons to make the call. Local calls cost twenty cents. The operator – a real person until it became computerized – would tell you how much long distance calls would cost. We had no choice. No internet, no cell phones. This was our option. ARCHAIC.
…looked up Paisley Park Studios in the phone book. PAISLEY PARK STUDIOS phone number (no address) was listed!! I raced back to the table to tell my friend and come up with a plan. The plan was to call and get the address claiming we had to make a delivery. That was it. That was the plan.
I raced back to the pay phone, looked up the phone number again, deposited my twenty cents and made the call.
On the second ring, a guy with a really deep voice answered and said, “Hello?”
[I had to stop and think – what does Prince’s speaking voice sound like? Does he has a deep voice? Meanwhile…]
“Oh, yeah, I need your address to make a delivery.” I stammered.
“What are you delivering?”
“Uh…flowers!” Wow, I’m quick. We really should have worked out some details of this plan.
“Call the local florists, they know where we are. Click”
Epic fail but a good laugh.
How could you leave me standing?
Rest in Purple
Rest in Paisley
Rest in Peace Prince.