As someone that was born in the late-’70s, my first memories of popular music are circa 1983/1984, and one thing that I struggled with as a 6-year-old was trying to figure out who was cooler, Michael Jackson or Prince. This was quite a dilemma for me as the first album I picked out on my own was Thriller, but not too long after that Purple Rain popped up on my radar. I probably leaned toward MJ back then, and I’m thinking that was because I was allowed to see the “Thriller” video and nowhere close to being allowed to see Prince’s cinematic masterpiece, the R-rated Purple Rain. Yes, Michael Jackson seemed to rule the world in the mid-’80s, but as soon as I got into rock music Michael started to feel a little more, I don’t know, “Disney,” I guess, while Prince had more of an edginess to him that was more appealing to someone entering their teens. Plus, Prince had babes in his videos, something that a pre-internet 13-year-old appreciated quite a bit.
Many years later, I saw Prince Rogers Nelson in a jaw-droppingly awesome stretch of acts at Coachella in 2008. Kraftwerk into Portishead into Prince. I’ve been to a ton of music fests, and in my eyes that stretch of bands hasn’t been topped since. I think it’ll be tough to better that going forward, so when it comes to pop stars of my youth and memorable music festivals, Prince is a prominent figure in both conversations and the fact that we lost him in 2016 is still hard to accept. It seems like the best thing to do is to kick out some of his jams as part of today’s Friday Feature, a tribute to artists we lost in 2016.