The Purple Reign Comes to an End


I originally posted this a year ago tomorrow. I leave it in the original raw format. I wrote it prior to anyone but his closest associates knowing that he struggled with Opioid addiction, that ultimately caused his death. A public figure but a private man. This was written before greed-motivated false claims of being related to him emerged. This week Paisley Park search warrants were unsealed and shared with the world. We learned the name he traveled under, that he had prescriptions in the names of bodyguards to protect his privacy and that an addiction specialist had prepared a plan for a recovery that was simply too late. We know that at the time of his death his petite frame weighed just 112 pounds. A year later and tributes to mark the anniversary are scheduled at many local venues. Paisley Park has become mecca, a “Graceland of the Midwest” and his estate this week placed a restraining order on one of his sound techs who has released a number of previously unheard tracks. Though the ringmaster has left the building, the circus continues. All this and I have been married another year.

Today is my wedding anniversary, a day for fond reflections. I began the morning working a part time job at a local garden center. I came home early because of the rain. I’d sold some of the few remaining pansies this morning, recommending the velvety purple ones to the customer, because they were beautiful and purple has always been my favorite color.

Not long after arriving home I saw a TMZ announcement that legendary artist Prince had died. I went to several sources to confirm it, knowing how many false stories circulate quickly via social media. Sadly, it appears that the original post is true. So I spend the day in fond reflections.

It’s been more than 35 years that I have been aware of Prince Rogers Nelson. Unlike most, it was not his music that initially drew my attention to him. I was still in high school in Minneapolis when I found myself in a diner in Dinky Town (near the University of Minnesota) seated so closely to the next table that I couldn’t see the face of the small man seated to my right. What caught my attention was that he was eating fried chicken, while wearing gloves. Despite it being Minnesota, these were not winter gloves, they were polyester dress gloves. I’ll give you one guess what color they were. After he’d left, my friend Jane said “That was Prince, he’s a local performer.” Jane’s favorite color is also purple. After confirming his death, this was my first fond reflection of Prince.

As I posted “Shedding purple tears.” with a picture of Prince on my Facebook page I heard the text notification on my cell phone. I ran up the stairs to find a message from my husband that Prince had died. It’s our anniversary and I smiled at the memory that he drove a Little Red Corvette back when we met. I then chuckled over the fact that the nickname I had signed my anniversary card to him with was also inspired by a Prince song. It’s my anniversary, a day for fond reflections.

I went back to my computer and found a message from half a world away, a friend who lived on my floor when I was an RA. He shared how he and his roommate from that era had gotten tickets to the Purple Rain concert. I reminded him that we had lip synced Purple Rain with some other floor members for a top ten count-down for the campus TV station that year. Fond memories, triggered by the sudden loss of a great talent.

The next message was from a college roommate who credited me with introducing her to his music. We frequently blared a cassette of his music on my JVC boombox out our open window of Holes Hall toward the Acacia fraternity house. Last Saturday was a final open house for Holes Hall, it’s being torn down. It seems strange the building is still standing and Prince is gone. My sophomore roommate and I also used Prince as the soundtrack of our college experience. A lot of fond memories of my late teens and early twenties.

My final year of college my staff members and I did a performance to The Bird, a song featured in the film Purple Rain. Prince was not simply a stand-alone act, he was like a gateway drug to music by The Time, Andre Cymone and others. He was different, temperamental perhaps, a visionary. He wanted to do eight minutes uninterrupted on Saturday Night Live and they let him. He temporarily wanted to be recognized by a symbol instead of Prince, that worked for him.  So many musical memories.

My kids early on, in their car seats, would be asked “who is this?” when a song came on the radio. Now in their twenties they will tell you that the correct answer was either “Bruce Springsteen” or “Prince”. They needed to know the basics. My daughter just texted me to ask if I had heard the news. More fond memories.

Prince’s fan base transcends age, race and gender. Minnesotan’s take pride in him and many have stories of late night jam sessions at Paisley Park or spontaneous performances at the legendary First Avenue. Jimmy Jam Harris is being interviewed on WCCO right now and he says that music was always the motivation over the money. Itunes is reporting that Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, When Doves Cry and Kiss are the top four tunes right now. Local radio stations are all playing Prince. Clearly, I am not the only one with fond reflections.

Today is my wedding anniversary and now I share this date with Prince, a fellow lover of purple.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” -Prince


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