Breaking news happens all the time and we have had our fair share this year. On Thursday, April 21, we had three stories of a larger magnitude. Two sports stories were worthy of front page coverage along with a prominent death.
I’ve read numerous accounts on the death of Prince Rogers Nelson, 57, better known as just Prince. The multi-faceted singer and musician died at this Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minn., just 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis.
My first thoughts were of surprise, not shock. I recalled watching the news the previous Friday, April 15, and it was reported that Prince’s jet had to make an emergency landing in the Quad Cities so he could be treated at Moline hospital. Aides said he had been battling the flu. I wasn’t so sure about that. He was returning from a concert in Atlanta to his home in suburban Minneapolis
It seemed strange that his entourage made an emergency stop at a Moline hospital for Prince to be treated for the flu when he was so close to his home. I mentioned to my son that it was most likely more than that.
I don’t think I can add more to what is already been written about Prince. He had some moderate success in the late 1970s with two albums and rose to international success with the release of his movie “Purple Rain” and the album of the same name. He followed that with more hit records and albums. He even made two more movies that were not that successful.
On one hand I’m a little surprised at the response to his death. Moments of silence at sporting events and purple rays of light shining on buildings in major cities across the U.S. and the world in his memory surprised me. But he was unique and a master showman. Michael Jackson may have been the self-titled “King of Pop” and a great performer, but Prince could play numerous instruments and write great songs. Jackson could not do that.
But the mainstream hits dried up a long time ago for Prince. It probably coincided with his rebellion against his record company in which he eventually got his freedom. He released two albums last year and another four years ago. I’m not sure many people listened to that music.
Although I can’t say I was a huge fan, I had to respect this eccentric musician. He did it his way. I also liked the fact that he actually lived in the Minneapolis area. We have some celebrities whose roots go back to Chicago and they talk about how much they love the city. But after they make an appearance somewhere or sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch of a Cubs game, they are out of here. Prince grew up in Minneapolis and never left.
He made some great music and his sexually-laced performance at the Super Bowl in 2007 will always be remembered. He had the most unique press conference a couple of days before the Super Bowl, in which the Bears eventually lost to the Indianapolis Colts. Prince and his band had entered the press conference with their instruments and appeared to wait for the first question.
Someone indeed tried to ask a question but Prince, who was known to be shy and not much for talking, responded by singing a song that included stinging guitar licks before the horde of stunned reporters. At the completion of the song, Prince responded that the “press conference is over.”
I think that was pretty cool. Prince even engaged in social media for a while and in keeping with his character, suddenly dropped his Twitter account. He loved his audience but wanted to keep his distance.
A little mystery, I believe, is a good thing. You leave people wanting a little more as they try to figure you out. In a world in which people like Kim Kardashian take pictures of her backside because she deems this important, Prince preferred to be alone with his music.
Chicago did have two great sports stories that day. The Chicago Cubs crushed the Cincinnati Reds 16-0 as Jake Arrieta throws his second no hitter in the last 16 starts. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in in overtime on a goal by Patrick Kane.
But Prince’s death was indeed front page news. Noted guitarist and singer Eric Clapton was once asked what it is like to be world’s greatest guitarist. Clapton said he did not know.
“Go ask Prince,” Clapton said.