Nearly thirty years later, it remains one of the most thrilling experiences of my entire life. Prince took us to church that night, as he did with everyone on that 44-city tour across three continents.
Welcome to “Purple Music: Musings on the Minneapolis Sound,” a new column by writer Tony Kiene. With this column, Kiene will highlight the lasting legacy of the late Prince, and by extension, the many artists who have played a pivotal role in shaping what’s commonly known as “the Minneapolis Sound.”
Prince’s request for an interview was still fresh on Robyne Robinson’s mind as she left Paisley Park that fateful day. It was not lost of her that no other local or national news anchor or reporter had been able to secure a sit-down television interview with the legendary entertainer.
Arriving at Paisley Park after being summoned by Prince, the first sound she heard was the pitter-patter of Mayte’s Yorkshire terriers making their way to the front lobby. They were followed by Mayte, whose smile let Robinson know that she approved of the piece. In fact, before Robinson could even say hello, Mayte asked for additional copies of the tape to send to family and friends in Germany, Puerto Rico, and Miami.
Many of us are familiar with Prince-penned hits recorded by Chaka Khan, Stephanie Mills, Stevie Nicks, Patti LaBelle, and Sheena Easton, among numerous others. Plus, all the notable tracks he wrote for other veterans of the Minneapolis Sound, including The Time, André Cymone, Vanity 6, and Sheila E. But did you know he also wrote for the likes of Joe Cocker, Kenny Rogers, Celine Dion, and Candy Dulfer?
Free, who modeled much of his early image after Prince and ultimately became a guitar guru himself, informed Chazz that since Prince didn’t need to practice, he didn’t feel he had to either. Chazz replied by letting Free know he had it all wrong, “Prince practices all the time.”
As fate would have it, however, the month of June also happens to be Black Music Month, which by a bit of cosmic irony was first declared by President Jimmy Carter on June 7, 1979, Prince’s 21st birthday.
So in recognition of the 39th anniversary of Black Music Month, let us use make full use of this column’s chief purpose and honor of —if not the — greatest musicians of all time: Minnesota’s favorite son, Prince.
This column will lift up the stories of others who played a critical role in the development of the Minneapolis Sound, stories which otherwise may have been lost to history. More than anything, “Purple Music” is simply a space to honor our hometown hero, his meaning to us, and his meaning to the world.