By Dawn Onley
Today Prince Rogers Nelson would have turned 59 years old. I will celebrate today as I’ve done much of the past year since his passing by listening to his music and reading articles about his life. Prince is an artist who has no parallel. He was a true original, a musical prodigy, a gifted songwriter who wrote many hits for other artists that many people would be surprised that he wrote. He is irreplaceable. He was a once in a lifetime artist. So as I join millions of his fans around the world remembering his life, I’m reposting this blog from last year upon learning of his death. We lost so many musical greats in 2016, but it was the passing of Prince that impacted me most. My husband and I threw a party to celebrate his life. We called it “Purple Reign.” Happy Birthday, Prince! Your music, your legacy, your artistry, YOU will forever live in my heart — until the end of time.
I’ve been in a fog since Prince died. Just numb.
Sure, we all must die at some point. Yes, even at just 57 years old, Prince lived a full life, accomplishing things that most of us couldn’t even fathom.
Still, it is surreal. And sad.
I’ve been driftlessly moving about, watching TV specials, listening to radio dedications and reading everything that I can about the man whose posters adorned my bedroom walls, whose songs I played and replayed over and over again, and who occupied so many of my teenage and young adult fantasies. It feels weird to mourn so deeply for someone I’ve never met, but this one is hard to deal with. Prince’s music shepherded my journey from teenager to young adult. Purple Rain, which I’ve easily watched over 20 times, will always be my favorite musical and purple remains my favorite color — influenced by Prince, of course.
Prince was bold and beautiful, unapologetic and courageous. He took chances and he demanded respect. He was a brilliant songwriter and businessman. He was a philanthropist and truly epitomized his Jehovah’s Witness teachings of never announcing the good deeds he did, which were many. He represented the disenfranchised and used his power for good. He didn’t just write thought-provoking lyrics, he walked the talk. He was a beautiful soul. He stood out.
His music brings me back to Players, a former teenage dance spot in my hometown, where the dance floor would be packed with hormonal teeny boppers, sweating it out to the sounds of such hits like “Let’s Go Crazy” “Raspberry Beret” and “I Would Die for You.” And of course, “Purple Rain” and “Adore” were always crowd pleasers.
Since his passing, I’ve viewed videos about his generosity and chuckled at memes about his strut and attitude. I just can’t get enough. I know over the next few weeks and months, I will have pored over countless interviews, read more first-person accounts from people who had intimate friendships with Prince and watched some of his memorable concerts all around the world.
But none of it will fill the permanent void I have for never seeing him live in concert. My heart breaks at two missed opportunities. I was looking forward to him coming to my area this year, but that will not be. When Prince died, like when Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Luther Vandross died, so did my dreams of witnessing them perform.
This year has been brutal for the musical greats it has taken thus far (Prince, David Bowie, Maurice White, Phife Dawg, Papa Wemba, to name a few). Natalie Cole died New Year’s Eve, 2015. So much great talent. Gone, but never forgotten, thanks to the legacies of their music, which will last forever.
I will celebrate Prince’s life and legacy by playing his music, by learning all I can about my childhood crush, and by introducing my son to his artistic genius. I only hope Prince knew how much he was adored, and how his music comforted and inspired millions of people.
Real music will survive. Prince’s legacy will endure. Until the end of time.