funk music

Monday, June 27, 2016

BET Tributes Worthy Of Prince

Posted by funkatop On June - 27 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Sheila E Pince tribute

Sheila E‘s Prince tribute at the 2016 BET Awards was finally the tribute everyone had expected to see.

We had already heard Purple Rain played incessantly as well as Nothing Compares 2 U for weeks before Madonna‘s tribute aired on May 22, 2016 (almost exactly one month after his passing). So for her to choose those two specific songs for her tribute sorely lacked any insight. Not even Stevie Wonder‘s presence could fix what seemed forced and almost obligatory.

The BET Awards set out to fix that blunder and Prince phasers were set to stun in order to wash away the bad taste that had been left behind. While we were now a full 2+ months removed from his death, the artists that knew him best were there to set the record straight.

The evening of tributes started with Dave Chappelle who introduced The Roots with Erykah Badu and Bilal. Erykah started with Ballad of Dorothy Parker in its entirety which was then followed by a near perfect vocal rendition of The Beautiful Ones by Bilal complete with floor grinding.

Prince Tribute-roots

The tributes continued with Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly doing the Purple Rain duet Take Me With U followed by Jennifer Hudson garbed in white and performing a slowed down soulful version of Purple Rain with The Roots guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas complete with a standing ovation.

Prince Tribute-Jennifer

Maxwell then took to the stage to perform his new song Lake By The Ocean followed by a heavily orchestrated Nothing Compares 2 U and altering the lyrics to “It’s been 7 hours and 66 days since you took your music away, and It’s been so lonely without U here. I’m like these records that don’t have a song., then I can play my radio station in anyplace I want, but nobody ever sounds like you. I went to the record store, I went to the Apple, Spotify too, and they told me ‘Boy you’d better try to make some music, which you can’t do – ’cause Prince is the truth!

Prince Tribute-Maxwell

Janelle Monae then took to the stage and fired out with a blast of kinetic energy through a blistering collection of tunes including Delirious, Kiss, Pop Life and then closing with I Would Die 4 U complete with ass-less pants hidden by a flowing short cape.

Prince Tribute-Janelle

However, the big bang came from Prince‘s former fiance’ Sheila E who served as the surprise vocalist for her tribute which was supposed to be fronted by D’Angelo who had mysteriously dropped out before the event.

Sheila E. valiantly took over the performing duty for a string of songs starting with Housequake and running through a medley of songs including Erotic City (shockingly unedited considering Sheila’s religious background), Let’s Work, U Got The Look, A Love Bizarre, Glamorous Life, America, and Baby, I’m A Star.

For those who had their eyes affixed to Sheila for the duration of the performance, they may have missed the star studded packed stage that included Prince‘s ex-wife Mayte, Kat, Liv Warfield, Shelby J, Elisa “Love Machine” Fiorillo, Jerome Benton, Morris Hayes, The McLean Twins, Nandy & Maya and the NPG Hornz who helped to build out the homage.

Click the image below to witness it yourself.
Sheila E Pince tribute

We are glad to finally see a tribute worthy of his memory.

RIP: Bernie Worrell Dead at 72

Posted by funkatop On June - 25 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Bernie Worell Dies

Parliament Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell has died at the age of 72.

Bernie was battling what he referred to as a mild form of prostate cancer and stage-four liver cancer. He fought for years but was surrounded by friends and family during the battle.

Worrell originally met George Clinton while he was performing in the doo-wop group The Parliaments and soon joined forces with guitarist Eddie Hazel, vocalist “Fuzzy” Haskins and “Billy Bass” Nelson to complete Funkadelic‘s 1970 debut album which was followed up months later with the now infamous Free Your Mind… and Your Ass Will Follow album.

Bernie Worell also led his solo act the Bernie Worrell Orchestra (view our photoshoot of his Bear Creek performance here), but also played as an unofficial member of Talking Heads for many years. He also made appearances in films like Ricki And The Flash and even starred in a film focusing on his genius called Stranger: Bernie Worrell On Earth.

Bernie WorrellHe was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997 with 15 other members of Parliament. His work is ever-present on Parliament hits like Up on the Down Stroke, Chocolate City, P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up), Mothership Connection (Star Child) and Flash Light, which features Worrell’s now-legendary Minimoog bass line.

This is a huge loss,” George Clinton said in a statement to Billboard. “The world of music will never be the same. Bernie’s influence and contribution — not just to Funk but also Rock and Hip Hop — will forever be felt. Bernie was a close and personal friend and this is a time of sadness for me personally. P-Funk stands with his family and fans alike in mourning this loss. The world is a little bit darker and a little less funky without Bernie in it.

Fans can contribute to his ever-growing bills to hep alleviate his pile of medical bills and to help his family recover from heir financial losses. A YouCaring page was set up seeking $75,000 and fans can donate here.

Bernie will forever be missed.

Read more at Rolling Stone.

Why Prince Is King

Posted by funkatop On June - 15 - 2016 26 COMMENTS
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Prince and 3rd Eye Girl Paris Berlin Vienna 2014Note: This was a post from a couple years ago that Prince loved. I decided that iI would re-post it since it stands just as true today.

– Mr. Christopher
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From an outsider, it sure looks like we’re spending an inordinate amount of time reporting on Prince and everything that he’s doing and in truth, you’d be right. We even have a page dedicated to Prince that covers tour dates, news, videos, and other tidbits. But what makes him so intriguing? How did he create such an indestructible persona and why does Funkatopia feel it necessary to be harsh sometimes? Let’s discuss.

To start, in my (Mr. Christopher) defense, I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. The first I heard Prince was the Controversy album. The first tour I saw was 1999 way back in the early 80’s as a young kid all of probably 14 or so. I was brought to see him by a friend of my mother’s and I had no idea what I was looking at. I like to brag about that being the first tour I had seen, but in truth my head was somewhere else at that time and I totally missed the significance of actually being present at that tour. But the travesty ends there as I would see pretty much every tour from there on out including Purple Rain 3 times at the Omni in Atlanta. And my stories of Prince encounters are vast, but designed for another time. I’m just setting the foundation for you of where this writer is coming from.

I have always loved how Prince keeps re-inventing himself and get asked why we cover Prince so much when he’s really not “funk”.  Prince has always been funky, but he would never attain a true funk branding because on every album there were always a plethora of songs that were far removed from funk. 1999 is undoubtedly his funkiest album if for no other reason that it had the fewest deviations from funk. Even Lady Cab Driver and Something In The Water was very funky. But any albums outside of that masterpiece have always had a lot of jaunts in various directions. Ronnie Talk To Russia, The Digital Garden, Darling Nikki, Guitar, Others Here With UsAnnie Christian, Calhoun SquareComputer Blue, and the list goes on and on.

And that’s what makes it difficult to pigeon hole Prince into any specific category. While he is a pop artist of sorts, those moments are infrequent in the grand scheme of his albums. The hits always seem to be surrounded on their respective albums with adventurous whatnot. Prince refuses to be tied down by categorization and the end result is what makes being a Prince fan so unassuming. You have no idea what territory each album will take you.

So how does he do it? What makes Prince so amazing and bulletproof from scorn or judgment? It doesn’t. His detractors are out there in force. But at the end of the day, it makes no difference what any of us will say. He surrounds himself with positive vibes at all times and completely envelops himself with positivity to keep his creative juices flowing by leaving the negativity for everyone else to read. He simply has no desire to be interested in what any blogger or music critic may say.  As long as he stays true to himself and his artistry, it makes no difference what any of us think.

Prince 2013 tourI will admit that I’ve been harsh to him at times, but it’s not because I dislike something he’s done as much as a result of my frustration and not understanding why he’s doing what he’s doing. When in truth, not even I know the entire story.  It can be discouraging to be a Prince fan and never hear his new material on the radio and feeling like he’s doing the exact opposite of what can help to remedy that problem.

At the end of the day, even if I feel as if I’m bringing reality or levity into the scope of things, I’m just a blogger who doesn’t have the full breadth of information or background story.  And that is by his design.  He is a master at creating that invisible blockade to keep people guessing.  It doesn’t change the fact that I will always be a Prince fan who, like you, yearns for the 80’s when his music was everywhere you turned your radio dial. When music was actually good. Real music by real musicians. Now forever pigeon holed as “old school.”

Clarity came as we helped to put together a great Prince Celebration with Wrecka Stow Productions in Atlanta in the coming weeks, it became painfully obvious that we could fill the entire 5 hours allocated for the party with just his hits and still not even scratch the surface. I knew that he was always writing and had more music that we could fathom, but it was truly in that moment that I quickly realized that the depth of his mastery is almost limitless.

Between his protege bands (Sheila E, The Time, Mazarati, etc.), the hits, the albums, the concerts, the fabled vault of music, the bootlegs, the jingles, songs for other artists you had no idea he was involved in, the side projects (3rd Eye Girl, NPGMadhouse, etc.), and the endless pool of remixes and varied versions of songs, the party could go on for a week solid at 24 hours a day and still not drain the pool of his music.

What probably makes me more bummed out than anything is knowing that at 45, even if I live to see 80, there will still be music of his that I don’t get a chance to hear even after I die. This is a man who will probably write more music and record more songs in the coming month than most artists will churn out in a decade.

He envelopes himself in music and the creative process 24/7. It’s been said that every room in Paisley Park is miked so that his genius is captured anywhere that he may be in the building. His focus is laser sharp and his process almost never stops. He surrounds himself with the best because anything else is just a waste of time.

Even if God forbid, he were to meet God today, there would be a never ending flow of posthumous music similar to what you’re experiencing with Jimi Hendrix.  The difference is that Prince has been non-stop writing and recording since the late 70’s. That’s creeping up on almost 40 years of non-stop creative flow. We have no idea what’s there and how vast the library may be, but you can guarantee that even if you were granted access to it and dedicated the rest of your life to listening to all of it, that you would be dead before you got to the end. And even if you somehow made it through, they would be whispering in your dead ear something like, “Dude, I totally forgot about that one private session with Miles Davis we recorded. Maybe next time? I’ll play it for you on the Boat“.

But Prince created the ultimate package. From the band mates he chose, to the clothes he created and wore, the way he wore his hair, and down to the amount of personal information that he let everyone know. He created enough mysticism about who he was, that there are still myths and stories that remain unanswered or confirmed.  He gave you multiple reasons to embrace him and just enough to question what you know.

Mr. Christopher's Office Wall

Mr. Christopher’s Office Wall

The only reason why we even do “less than positive” reviews is simply not to pander. Prince has enough websites, blogs, orgs, and proponents to do that. There’s simply no journalistic integrity in praising every note and song because there’s no honesty in that. In some form or fashion, people do have certain expectations. But even in that perspective, it doesn’t matter. There are no bad Prince albums. You simply either don’t get it or haven’t gotten it yet. The reality is that if a review is negative, it’s only because our expectations didn’t run parallel with what he gave us.

This is why Prince will always be King. His musical genius knows no bounds. He’s still actively selling out shows decades later even though people have no idea what to expect once he hits the stage. I couldn’t be more pleased to see his resurgence and to know that there are big things coming down the pike within the coming months and years.

While I have to do my due diligence in writing truthful perspectives and reviewing whatever he puts out for us to consume, there will never be a doubt that personally, Prince is a huge hero to me. I long for the day that I get a chance to interview him sans recorder, pen or paper. That’s the pinnacle. I can’t even begin to describe the influence he’s had on me as a performer, singer, and even down to how I listen to music. He continually sets the bar that no one can touch and even if he stopped now, it would be an unattainable goal for any artist to amass the depth of his artistry. And it’s one heck of a ride.

What makes Prince great for you?

Prince Is Gone. Now What?

Posted by funkatop On June - 13 - 2016 6 COMMENTS
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prince

For many of us, we still haven’t fully processed the loss of the most amazing musician on the planet, Prince. The immense library of music that he gave us. The careers he launched and revived. How is he gone? My heart really aches every time I think about it. I really tried to see if there was anything positive from his passing and even the selfish things that came to mind weren’t worth a world without him.

It was humbling to have him tweet about Funkatopia. We were one of the last dozen tweets he did before his passing.

And while traffic is a blessing to a website owner, we weren’t huge fans of the 2nd wave of traffic that came as a result of USA Today covering his final days and mentioning the tweet about the review we had posted. Even though they spelled the website name wrong.

Usa Today Snippet

None of it seemed important. This is not how we wanted attention. Prince has mentioned Funkatopia via Twitter at least a half dozen times or more, so I was used to him bringing my site to a crawl with massive waves of unexpected traffic. I was simply shocked that he was even paying attention to us.

But what now? Where does his estate and unreleased music go from here? Where do we go from here?  Yes, we. We are still here caught in the wake of Prince‘s Housequake. “What was that?

The various incarnations of his past bandmates are making plans to hit the road and some are continuing as they always have. It should serve as some consolation that his music that was buried away in the vaults will slowly begin to see the light of day, but there hasn’t even been any evidence that there is anyone trustworthy in charge of the distribution of his music.  While we get to sit and watch Warner Brothers slowly dribble out reissues of his albums on vinyl. Blech.

As it stands, his estate owes millions to the federal and Minnesota government. Why? The Mayor of Minnesota should use his powers to forgive any owed taxes if only for the reason that Prince put Minnesota on the map and brings them revenue regularly.  There are people that live in Minnesota simply because Prince lived there.

If you ask someone to name famous people from Minnesota (who isn’t from Minnesota), Prince will always be first. Maybe followed by Bob Dylan. Only the residents will then ramble off others like Judy Garland, Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, or F. Scott Fitzgerald. Yes, there are actors like Josh Hartnett and Seann William Scott, but who cares? What revenue are any of them bringing to Minnesota?

Not to mention the amount of revenue that Minnesota will receive from the wave of traffic that Paisley Park will bring when it gets transformed into a Prince museum. His monetary impact on Minnesota is palpable, so the fact that they are one of the savages shaking the gates with their hands out really ticks me off.

skywritingAnd while some people may want me to reflect on Prince‘s cause of death, you’ll be disappointed because it doesn’t even matter. As someone who lives with chronic pain, I can tell you that it’s a nightmare to manage it sometimes. And sometimes it can be deadly. You completists out there got your info. Now what? Exactly. Doesn’t change a thing.

At Funkatopia, my goal is to keep his vision alive. Keep the music flowing. I know that we haven’t updated the Prince News page in a while, but that’s only because it hurts too much to amplify the drivel.  I don’t want to talk about his cause of death, what’s going to happen with his estate, etc.  But stay tuned. It will be updated soon. I simply have to get to a point where it doesn’t hurt every time I breathe just thinking about him.

If there’s one thing that Prince made sure that I personally knew was that he wasn’t going to link to anything on my website that had even the slightest inclination towards negativity. He only wanted me to focus on the things that brought positive energy. He made that very clear even when I would review his albums. If it wasn’t a 5 afro review and included all positive comments, he just ignored it.

5 out of 5 afros

Every time I reviewed his albums I would have to decide if I wanted to get a wave of traffic from him or if I wanted to keep some journalistic integrity and review an album truthfully. I know that he respected my opinions about his music, but I also knew that if I said anything negative, I could forget him mentioning my review on Twitter or anywhere else.

I guess I’m glad that he even knew who I was and that he liked the site. That meant a lot to me, but it means even more that we find some way to pick up his torch and carry it for him now that he’s gone. I’ve been watching websites dedicated to him turning off the porch lights as if there’s nothing more to say and that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

So what is it that we will say? What is it that we will do? What do you want Funkatopia to do? What are you going to do?

To start, be sure you tune in

Mr. Christopher

Prince Essence Music Festival

Exclusive Interview: Electrophazz

Posted by funkatop On June - 12 - 2016 1 COMMENT
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Here’s a band you’ve never heard of that is more amazing than you could possibly believe. Electrophazz is literally a hybrid of the best funk jazz projects all rolled into one,

Take the funky light jazz funk inflections of Brand New Heavies and the intricate song structures of Snarky Puppy and you end up with the phenomenon that is Electrophazz.

The band just released their latest EP this year titled Summer In Your Eyes and you can check the track below. But this isn’t their first submission into the music ether. Their first album Made in Phazz – Trip 1 came out in 2010 as well as the follow up Growing Strong in 2015.

Their popularity overseas in very palpable but in the states, they have yet to scratch the surface.  This time around, they believe they have the perfect recipe and we think they’re right,

So Funkatopia’s Mr. Christopher sat down with their MC Kevin from Detroit and drummer Tim Campanella to chat about their tour, music overseas, Kevin’s move from Detroit to Paris, and tons more. Check this exclusive interview and get ready to have a new favorite band.

Mantra: Return Of The Nasty

Posted by funkatop On May - 18 - 2016 1 COMMENT
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Mantra - Big Ol Nasty Getdown, Volume 2

One of our favorite projects of all time is John Heintz‘ musical journey entitled Big Ol’ Nasty Getdown (or BONG for short).  John uses his super funky powers to gather some of the greatest funk artists on this big blue and put them in studios to create the equivalent of audio diamonds.

We covered the first release in good detail, so we won’t do it again, although we would love to, but we will tell you that we’ve been ready for the 2nd volume for a few years now and it’s coming very soon.  We were along for nice chunks of the journey and will cover it shortly complete with interviews, exclusive clips and sounds you won’t hear anywhere else, so stay tuned.

However, we were graced with a the first hitKendra Foster from the 2nd BONG (see what we did there?), and you are in for a huge treat.

Kendra Foster who you may recognize as the beauty from Parliament Funkadelic and also D’Angelo’s Vanguard showcases her beautiful vocals for Mr. Heintz yet again, but she is also joined by the forward thinking philosopher Speech from Arrested Development and together they colloborate on the super groovy song Mantra.

To make the track even more masterful, they are backed by a virtual who’s-who including Fishbone bassist Norwood Fisher, The Time & Freak Juice guitarist Tori Ruffin, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band guitarist JP Miller, as well as Booty Band keyboardist Mary Frances and trombonist Derrick Johnson, Booty Band alum Greg Hollowell who now plays with Asheville Horns, drummer Jeffrey Suttles who has played with everyone from The Sexual Chocolate Band to Jesse Johnson, vocalist and horn player Greg Thomas from Parliament-Funkadelic and topped off from Empire Strikes Brass, Debrissa McKinney and Ben Hover.  If that’s not enough, then you’re dead inside.

Producers John Heintz and Frank Mapstone produced the track in the Foo Fighter‘s private Studio 606 on the old Soundcity mixing console to preserve that vinyl-tastic sound. Then they added even more final touches to the track by placing it in the hands of Joe Gastwirt who has worked with 311, Tom Petty, Grateful Dead, Crosby Stills & Nash. The result?

This is just the beginning. There is much more to come and Funkatopia has your front row seats. Listen to the track, BUY the track, and get ready to have your face funked off. It’s coming.

Exclusive Interview: Wang Chung’s Jack Hues

Posted by funkatop On May - 3 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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A great band that has always been sorely overlooked over the years was Wang Chung. Beyond Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Everybody Wang Chung Tonight), Dance Hall Days and Let’s Go, Wang Chung suffered at the hands of pop radio and their hits were all anyone had heard.

A deep dive into their catalog of the same albums that housed those hits, you would find some amazing songs that were wonderfully crafted and way better than what people were actually hearing all the way up to their previous release Tazer Up just released a few years ago.

Wang Chung lead singer Jack Hues sat down with Funkatopia’s Mr. Christopher to chat about the loss of PrinceDavid Bowie and how it affected him emotionally. He also delves into his new project Jack Hues & The Quartet as we dissect the 6 song adventure that is available now as we speak.

Enjoy this exclusive Funkatopia interview and learn about the crafting of an album from a living 80’s legend that is still putting out music with Wang Chung and his new project.

Prince’s Revolution Plans To Tour

Posted by funkatop On April - 27 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Revolution Reunion

Even before a week has even passed, the members of The Revolution in their original glory are planning a reunion to tour. Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Brown Mark, Dr. Fink, and Bobby Z are all there.

The announcement was made via Brown Mark‘s Facebook page and has already caused quite a bit of discussion. See the video below.

For the Prince purists, some are asking exactly what this will be. Will someone take the place of Prince such as Marshal Charloff who currently performs as Prince in Dr. Fink‘s Prince cover band Purple Xperience?  Or will vocals be taken on by the existing lineup’s vocalists who only consist of Wendy & Lisa? Or will it be the base band with many surprise guests along the way?

The band has reunited once before in 2014 and Prince had no interest in participating even though the band had set up a spot for hm should he choose to make an appearance. He didn’t. Insiders say that he didn’t want to detract or overshadow their show. But the empty spot on stage for him insisted that they would have loved for him to join in.

In forums around the web, some are wondering if this is just happening too soon or if there are other motivations. We’re hoping to get a chance to speak with the members (in sum or part) to see what the plans are so that we can clear the air and get everyone ready for this amazing show.

Many, like ourselves, are very excited about the reunion and hope it comes through Atlanta, although we’re still very raw with the death of Prince, it would be exciting and cathartic to see those Revolution-era songs played by the lineup that did it the best.

Whatever the motivation, whatever the cost, we’re pretty confident that this will be a show that you simply won’t want to miss if it hits your town. And if it comes near us, you can rest assured that we’ll be there to cover it in some form or fashion. High fashion, that is.

Prince and the Revolution

Prince: My Personal Adventures

Posted by funkatop On April - 22 - 2016 1 COMMENT
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Sometimes It Snows In April

Prince Concert - Sold Out

4,678. That’s how many people The Fox Theatre in Atlanta seats in its venue.  That’s how many people on the entire planet that got to witness Prince‘s very last performance that he would ever play.  I was honored to be one of those 4,678.

He played two shows in Atlanta that night of April 14th, 2016 and I was at both of them. At the first show at 7pm, I was in the 5th row and he was right there 8 feet in front of me shaking hands with the front row.  For the 10pm show, I was all the way up in the balcony and it was far more magical there. The acoustics at the top of The Fox is pure heaven.

I was also honored that Prince tweeted about Funkatopia as one his last tweets on Twitter. He consistently tweeted about Funkatopia and I was beside myself every time he did so.

Prince tweets Funkatopia

I shook his hand, I got a chance to sing next to him at the afterparty for the One Nite Alone tour as he nodded his head, smiled and acknowledged me by “slapping me five.”  He sat literally arms length away to me playing keyboards while I sang along. He would continue to “slap me five” multiple times that night. He came out into the crowd that evening to check the sound and I finally stood in front of him and got to tell him how much his music meant to me face to face.

Then the following year, I found a way to get on stage with a half dozen other people and danced on stage while Prince stood 3 feet in front of me playing guitar facing out to the crowd. I wouldn’t have had the nerve were it not for people on either side of me taking the leap of faith and jumping onstage before me. I realized I would never have that chance again, s I went with my gut and joined them. It was euphoric and I was right.

turtles-record-storeMy relationship with Prince‘s music began in 1982 when a friend of my mother’s took me to see Prince‘s 1999 concert. I had heard his music on the radio. I had heard Controversy, I Wanna B Ur Lover. and Let’s Work.  So while I liked his music, I wasn’t a fully functional fan until that night.  I had no idea what I was watching, but the ambiance was thick with sex and funk. I was 14 and had no idea what I was even watching. I just knew it was something bigger than I could comprehend and I had an overwhelming desire for more of whatever it was.

Two years later, I would camp outside Turtle‘s record store for two days to buy tickets to Prince‘s Purple Rain show in Atlanta only to have it sell out two shows before I even made it to the ticket counter. Then something magical happened and he added 3 more Atlanta shows and I bought a single ticket to each one. Prince had officially become my obsession.

lovesexyOver the years to come, I would meet most of my best friends at Prince concerts or during school talking about Prince. My friend Rob and I almost based our entire friendship around Prince‘s existence. We went to all of the concerts together, we bought the albums, we learned the lyrics, we winced at the necessity of having to purchase the Lovesexy album with “that” cover, we were mad that it was all one long track on the CD, we laughed while reading the lyrics to It before we got to the record player to actually hear the song.

For me, the stories would keep coming year after year until it went dry in Atlanta and he toured the world seemingly avoiding Atlanta for 12 years with exception to playing background guitar for Tamar, but it still left a 10 year hole where his presence was sorely missed. So when it was announced that he would be coming to Atlanta for 2 shows, I knew it was inevitable that I would be at both shows.

I cut my family’s Florida vacation short by a couple days in order to make it back for the show. It was canceled hours before the show when we were 2 hours outside of Atlanta. A few days later and Prince would reschedule the show for the following Thursday April 14, 2016.  I had no idea that it would be his last performances, but something inside of me caught fire and it was evident that something special was happening.

Atlantans lined Peachtree on both sides of the street that night and the presence of thousands of people spilled out into the street while Atlanta police had to shrink the 4 lane road down to two while the 7pm and 10pm shows switched places into the venue. Sharply dressed gentlemen, beautifully garbed women and a vast array of fans from 3 generations wearing Prince concert shirts from the past.

dance-partyThe shows were amazing and when it was over, I was mentally floating from the performance. I had high reservations that he would ever be able to perform by himself and fill the room with music that would be a satisfying experience and I was pleasantly happy to be very wrong. I had even purchased almost every piece of merchandise he offered for a reason I still couldn’t justify to myself. A t-shirt, a poster, a program, and even a coffee mug.

The following day when his trip back to Minnesota had to make an emergency landing, something didn’t feel right. Then when he made an appearance at a Paisley Park dance party waving to fans to verify he was okay, it seemed that either the media was yet again out of control or he was doing all that he could to hide something very serious.

Prince fans were used to the media reporting falsehoods about him in the past and this time seemed no different. However, there was still something strange about an emergency landing of a plane for flu-like symptoms. Everyone was willing to overlook whatever the situation was because simply, Prince was okay.

On the morning of April 21, TMZ reported that ambulances and a hearse were outside of the Paisley Park complex. While most all of the attention was immediately directed to the welfare of Prince, everyone was still distraught thinking that anyone in the Prince family could have passed onto the next world. Something inside of me shut down.

I was having a heart attack at work trying to keep my emotions in check and put on  brave face, but there was a “disturbance in the force.” I found myself getting very upset before his death was even verified.

Madly refreshing the TMZ page since their reps were already onsite and would most likely be the first to report it, a wave of nausea hit me when the latest post made the announcement; Prince: Dead at 57. Time froze in that instant. I literally had forgotten how to breathe.

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 12.14.08 AM

For what seemed like minutes, I couldn’t breathe. He had just tweeted about Funkatopia days ago. I just saw him perform both shows in Atlanta and put on two beautiful displays of stunning artistry. There were no signs of ailment or frailty that was evident to me. He was 57 years old, so any degradation in the show was, in my opinion, just a result of getting older. The same aging process that has me grabbing my knees after walking up a single flight of steps.  Even I had come a long way from the teen who was comfortable wearing a pink suit all because of him.

pinksuit

I immediately did like millions of others and went about the verification process. I checked with Liv Warfield, nothing there. I checked with Shelby J, quiet. I checked with his publicist. Nothing. By the time I got to Dr. Funkenberry, he too was in a maddening verification process. I had already echoed TMZ‘s announcement, but he refused to confirm it while thousands sat in wait.  Before he could verify it, the Associated Press had already released it as fact and Prince’s publicist had released the news. It was true. Prince was dead.

Trying to hold it together was very difficult as my cell phone began ringing constantly for the next 5 hours. “Yes, I heard.”, “I know.“, “I’m fine.”

My Facebook account was beeping like a security system as I was inundated with activity alerts every few seconds. “I immediately thought of you when I heard this. Are you okay?“, “I am so sorry for your loss.”  I had to do regular posts just to let everyone know that I was still alive.

He was found by Paisley Park staff unresponsive in an elevator and while I fought it, the only thing I could think of was the opening lyrics to Let’s Go Crazy. They tried CPR and couldn’t revive him. We lost Glenn Frey. We lost Vanity. We lost David Bowie. We lost Maurice White. It couldn’t be true.

Prince changed my world and I am far from alone. He changed the face of music. His albums were responsible for the implementation of the now infamous parental warning stickers. He completely embraced the internet releasing his music and rare tracks via his own online music organization only to swear off the internet and remove his works from every corner he could find. He had even created his own video game.

There will never be another like him and the passion will never be met again. No one was more of complete musical package. Even in death, his legacy will live on for generations to come. Everyone will grieve, but we should never forget to celebrate that we were a part of that legacy. You should feel blessed that you got to be a part of his world and that his music will live on forever.

He passed away in April just like Christopher Tracy in Sometimes It Snows in April and on the day he died a rainbow appeared over Paisley Park. Even days later I keep thinking that it’s a really, really bad dream.

He redefined funk. He redefined music. He changed lives. He saved lives. His music made lives. He made people cry. He made people dance. He made people sing. He made people strive for more. He set the standard. The gold standard. There will never be another. Ever.

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Prince: Dead at 57

Posted by funkatop On April - 21 - 2016 7 COMMENTS
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Photo courtesy of Redfoxbandit on Instagram

The worst possible news that could have happened hit the new and stunned the world. Prince was found dead at Paisley Park today as first reported by TMZ and then by all of the national media in confirmation.

Emergency units were seen entering Paisley Park at 9:47am and then the news got worse as it was soon followed by a hearse.  Rumors began flowing around the web and there were major concerns since after Prince‘s Atlanta concerts, his jet had to make an emergency landing as he had to be taken to the hospital for few hours before continuing his journey home to Minneapolis.

He reported via publicist that the reasoning was a recurring bout with the flu. It was the same flu that had him cancel the Atlanta shows on April 7th and postpone them until a week later. The Atlanta Prince shows were incredible and everyone present, including us, were convinced that he had fully recovered. No one could have predicted that it would be his last two performances ever.

To quell any more rumors, Prince made an appearance at a Dance Party at Paisley Park over the weekend on Saturday April 16 showing everyone that he was okay. He didn’t perform, but showed off his new guitar and new Yamaha piano.  Dr. Funkenberry also did a full podcast covering the events of the weekend that included discussions about an upcoming live CD, and other Futuresexy news.

Upon TMZ‘s announcement that a hearse was present this morning, the purple family prayed. The announcement was then made that Prince had been found unresponsive in the elevator at Paisley Park and was not able to be revived and they officially announced his death. There have been no indications as to cause of death announced, which will serve as no solace to anyone.  TMZ also shot out reports that Prince was making frequent runs to his local CVS for pharmaceuticals to treat some unknown condition.

Prince stormed onto the scene almost 40 years ago and has a full library of hits that have touched the lives of millions. His absence is devastating and we are incredibly honored to have seen his last two performances. We were also relieved to know that his Atlanta shows were documented and are going to be released sometime in the future for all to enjoy.

One can also imagine that many of his musical brilliance from the fabled vaults will slowly begin to emerge as the years go by to keep his memory alive for generations to come. No word on whether the authorized biography that he had agreed to release will come to fruition now, but he has already given us so much.

We are truly heart broken and we know that you are too. Please share your thoughts, prayers and feelings below as a sounding board. The world is significantly less amazing now. May you rest in peace, sweet Prince.

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