It's a strange feeling. I used to live in a world with Prince, now I'm living in a world without Prince. I will never again have that feeling when a concert was announced and I absolutely must get my hands on golden circle tickets. Never again will we have the excitement trying to find out where and if there would be an aftershow. Never again can I convince friends, colleagues, loved ones to go see the little fella perform live, to feel the energy and witness an artist whose showmanship and virtuosity has yet to be outperformed by any other artist on this planet.
The goosebumps you got during those magical guitar solos, the smile on your face when he was making silly faces or joking around, the chills in your spine when he finally performed that one song you had been waiting to hear live for so long.
I was fortunate enough to have seen him perform close to 40 times in a span of 18 years. Yes I missed the early days, but even then that leaves me with plenty of unique memories. My first visit to Paisley Park in 2000. Guided tours through the building took us to the studios and yes, I did put my hands on the original mixing table from sign o the times, even though there was a big do not touch sign, sorry Prince, I just couldn't resist. In the basement we got to see the storage room with all the instruments from years past, and yes, we laid our eyes on the vault. It's located just next to the parking garage you may recognise from the sexy mf video. Outside on the parking lot, in between some food stalls on a small stage a dj was playing. I started talking to him and after a couple of days I could join him on the stage, and even got to spin a couple of records. Lifetime achievement #1: I kinda deejayed at Paisley Park.
"When I was younger I always said that one day I was going to play all kinds of music, and not be judged by the color of my skin, but the quality of my work."
Fast forward to 2002. My second (and last) trip to Paisley Park. Workshops during the day (awesome talks with Sheila E, John Blackwell ...), and for 7 nights we got treated to a full pre show by amongst others Norah Jones, Victor Wooten, Rachel Farell and Sheila E, followed by a mind blowing performance by our purple friend. 7 nights in a row! For $100! Absolute bargain. Each and every single one of those concerts alone was worth a 100 bucks. We even went to see Minority Report at 3am-ish in the morning at a local cinema. Princes treat.
It was also during this event at Paisley Park that I had my most personal encounter with Prince. During one of the pre shows he was standing there all by himself watching the concert. I walked up to him, preparing a long speech in my head. The second I stood right next to him, all that I was able to say was "thank you for organising this". He gave me a smile and a friendly nod. I ran out of the building, ready to kick my own ass for being so star struck. Next day, going around a blind corner in the building, his bodyguard ran into me. Prince said "I'm sorry about that" and gave me something which resembles a baby high five. Once again I had to run outside the building to get my cool back.
In the next 14 years I tried to see as many prince shows as possible, as they all were totally different from each other. I was at all the Belgian shows since 1998. I've seen him couple of times during his 21 shows at the O2 arena in London, at the Montreux Jazz festival, at North Sea jazz, at so many other places.
Little did I know that my last time I would see him perform would be at Botanique, Brussels. One of those gigs where you would only know he would actually perform that night the minute he actually started to play. He did 3 shows that night for about a 400 people each. I attended show one and three, with that last one having been a mind blowing and mesmerising experience.
So many memories. So many stories to tell. But also so many people I got to know, all over the world, all united through one man's music. I got to deejay at prince parties In Malmö and Paris, and best of all for several years at prince parties in London and Manchester.
I could go on and on. Bottom line, yes I will miss him. Not only are we left without the performer, also a lot of future memories have been torn away.
Rest in peace my dear friend. I wish you heaven.