This morning, I learned both Chyna and Guy Hamilton had died. These weren’t exactly unexpected deaths. Chyna, the former wrestler and porn star, had struggled with substance abuse issues for many years. Hamilton, director of such James Bond films as GOLDFINGER, LIVE AND LET DIE, and THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, was age 93.
But Prince? That caught me completely off guard.
The iconic rocker was 57, and had just recently performed in Atlanta. He burst on the scene with a hybrid of psychedelic funk rock that was uniquely Prince. Hit albums like DIRTY MIND, CONTROVERSY, 1999, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY, and SIGN “O” THE TIMES became classics as Prince crossed musical, racial, and gender borders to create his own distinct artistic vision. He was one of the first black artist to be featured in heavy rotation on MTV, back when they actually were about music, and his visual style helped bring a wider audience to his music. He starred in the mega-hit film PURPLE RAIN, followed by UNDER THE CHERRY MOON and GRAFFITI BRIDGE.
Musicians like Sheila E, Morris Day, Vanity 6, and Apollonia got their starts with Prince. His songs were covered by everyone from Sinead O’Connor to Tom Jones:
He was a maverick in the music business who once changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. He battled with record companies, determined to hold the rights to his music, even pulling his videos from YouTube. The best I could find is this live rendition of the classic PURPLE RAIN:
RIP, Prince Rogers Nelson. The doves are crying tonight.