"Something that I carry near and dear to my heart is Prince's wisdom on not worrying about the past" Prince's 3RDEYEGIRL drummer Hannah Ford told Gigwise when I met them in West London, brimming with excitement as they were about to drop PLECTRUM ELECTRUM. "Not wallowing in it, not worrying about the future either, just being in the now."
Amen, and that's what makes the sudden passing of His Royal Badness all of the more devastating. Tributes and eulogies of an artist of this stature are usually a halcyon-glazed window into a time-capsule of their legacy. That's not to say it's not what Prince deserves, but to focus just on that would be horriffic injustice to a man with such a restless drive and generosity of creative spirit, that he was partying and inspiring up until his dying day. But we're not talking about your standard cartoon, hedonistic, rock n' roll kind of party.
If you ever had the pleasure of seeing the Purple One live, you'd have certainly felt that his every movement was one of love.
With a wry smile, elastic movements and a fluid sense of musicianship, he'd effortlessly become the party as one hour unnoticably slipped into another - in a space where the soulful met the celebration, where you'd burst out of your own skin for 'Let's Go Crazy', before totally falling apart for 'Nothing Compares 2 U' and witnessing an artist reborn on 'PRETZELBODYLOGIC. Hits were held together by charm and a loving nod to the greats that came before him. All of this was intercut with a catty wit and relentless jamming from an artist who played like he was born with a guitar between his legs. This man sweated music. Hell, he was music. He gave everything to you.
When Bowie died, those who loved him felt a very personal loss. With Prince however, it's something quite different. Pop, rock, funk, R&B and whatever the hell he fancied would collide into something you could only call 'Prince'. As intimate and all-baring as he could become, his records were a celebration for everyone, and his live shows were a place where people would come as strangers, before uniting in joy and leaving as friends and lovers. You were in awe to be in the presence of greatness, but it never phased you because you felt part of it. This was the party Prince intended.
The first time I saw Prince was at his now legendary Hop Farm 2011 headline set. It was a 300 mile drive to be with friends, but it could have been on the moon and I'd do it again. It was everything I wanted and more. The next time he touched down on British soil was for his sporadic run of surprise London shows, before a charity show at Koko last February. At the latter gigs, there'd been a clear shift in gear. Over the last two years, Prince dropped a staggerring four albums, with more in the pipeline. Backed by 3RDEYEGIRL, his final years were spent as an almighty rock beast - driven by the compulsion that he still had so much more to give. It was infectious and life-affirming to witness.
"When you have someone so iconic, genius and talented there..." producer Joshua Welton told us of his work with Prince on his final series of HITNRUN albums. "I mean - this brother can hear the leaves growing on branches! He's that good. This is a gift form God, this is beyond me."
"Being in the present with the people that support you and love you and enjoy what's happening right now - you don't want to miss something," 3RDEYEGIRL's Hannah Ford told us. "It's very easy to miss special moments, even the small ones. You can't be too worried about what happened yesterday or what hurt you years ago, or what you're going to do in a month or a year down the road. That's stuff that 's going to get taken care of and is out of your control. Just be present and right now."
That's how we should remember Prince - not weighed down by nostalgia, but an artist who was only ever giving you everything he could at that given time, and every moment was worth treasuring.
As the wise man said himself "life is just a party, and parties weren't meant to last". Sorry Prince, we may have to disagree with you there. "Electric word 'life', it means forever and that's a mighty long time but I'm here to tell you there's something else..."
That 'something else' was what Prince had. As long as there's a now, as long as we've got the music, the party goes on.