We didn't really manage to keep up with him you know.
Prince was of course so innovative, so talented and so prolific that he was perhaps the most celebrated of the eighties alumni for sheer talent. And deservedly so.
He was a phenomenal talent who emerged out of youth culture but almost as if he was already a fully formed artist with talent beyond his years.
Prince was well and truly ahead of his time on many levels and was in a league of his own throughout much of his career- whether because his music just made everything else in pop pale in comparison - or because he was incredibly private and kind of pushed out of the mainstream by all the messy Warner bros/slave/symbol dramas that marked the early 90s and completely changed his processes and output.
Like I've said in past posts, Prince - in addition to his musicianship- was as important culturally as his music because he presented a different kind of masculinity to the masses at a time when we still rejected the idea that you could be different, eccentric (and obsessed with lavender).
Trying to define and confine genius is a pointless exercise and lets face it, nobody before him ever managed to blend funk, rock and pop so well.
From his first album in 1978 For You until 1992's Love Symbol he practically had an album of new material out every year, each home to at least a classic or two. That was fourteen albums if I count right in the space of 14 years. And back then, we still couldn't get enough of him. The very idea of there being a Black Album floating around had people on tenterhooks.
He was so prolific that his 1993 Hits compilation came out in three versions - including a B-sides set- and the much documented problems he had with Warner Bros led to a pile up of previously unreleased material shortly thereafter including said Black album and Come.
From 1993 onwards things became more complicated, convoluted and complex- but Prince's problems with Warner bros led to him innovating again- this time by basically inventing the online record distribution process and by switching his distribution deals.
This turn of events happened long before the idea of the Internet in so many homes was a reality.
And from this time onwards his erratic release schedules often became a confusing mix of vault recordings and new material, which, we as a global audience couldn't really keep up with. That prolific rate of an album a year was kept up and there have been rumours circulating that the vaults at Paisley Park are spilling out with huge volumes of unreleased material which, with his passing, are likely to start filtering into the market.
Whether the material strikes a chord with audiences will be another matter- much of Prince's recent material had abided by his conversion to the Jehovas Witness faith- leading to a disavowal of the sexual content from his back catalogue and a stronger emphasis on spiritual tones.
But with more than a dozen albums from his imperial period to draw from, and dozens of the greatest pop recordings ever made included in that treasure chest, you can be sure that over the coming months there is going to be a lot of attention paid to his hefty catalogue. Brace yourselves for a few months in which we finally restore Prince to the regal status he once held and commiserate ourselves with the fact that he has passed, but that his legacy will be with us forever.
RIP to one of the all time greats, an innovator, a visionary and a genius who was so prolific that it will take another lifetime to truly appreciate.
He is and will remain one of my inspirations!
Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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