Minnesota’s Governor, Mark Dayton, declared today to be Prince Day, in honor of what would have been his 58th birthday. Reading the tweets today brought to remembrance the morning of April 21st, 2016, when lives changed forever.
It was a cool and breezy Minnesota April day, perfect for baking some favorite healthy, gluten-free snacks. In the silence of my kitchen, I measured the ingredients ever so carefully. Yearning for some company, I tuned into my favorite radio station, MyTalk 107.1. Lori and Julia often keep me entertained on baking days with their light-hearted humor and banter.
That day, their tone was different. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what was wrong. My world came to a screeching halt and my heart skipped a beat as I heard Lori say our beloved Prince was found dead at Paisley Park. Both my stomach and my measuring cup of melted chocolate dropped to the floor. I watched in slow motion as it splattered all over everything in a 3 ft radius. The dark, sticky liquid reflected of the turmoil I felt inside.
That memory will forever be etched in my mind. In a state of numbness and shock, I went through the motions of cleaning up the mess I made and continued the mindless task of baking. This couldn’t be real, could it? I listened intently at as the Dakota County Sheriff’s office released details in a press conference. It was real.
As a fellow Minnesotan, I didn’t truly understand or appreciate the talent we had right here in the Twin Cities. More importantly, I never fully realized the impact Prince’s humanitarian efforts had on not only the world but specifically, Minnesotans. He was our hometown hero.
I listened to callers on MyTalk 107.1 that afternoon. I spoke to people at Paisley Park. Their stories brought solace to a grieving heart. Although Prince was in pain, I realized he never let it stop his purpose in life. That purpose was to bring joy and ease the burden for others.
I hope you find comfort in the sharing of these stories.
An elementary teacher recalled that Prince was a reserved and shy boy
in her third-grade class. Most of the time he was quiet and kept his head down. It wasn’t his own mother that attended his conferences or school events, rather the mother of a friend and classmate. Even as far back as the third grade, she said he was a bit of a dreamer.
A high school friend remembered that Prince was popular with every group in school. He fit in wherever he went and often sang and played guitar for a diverse crowd before and after school. He had a way of bringing people together through his music.
A Minneapolis make-up artist found herself doing the extras on the set of Purple Rain as her very first paid gig. At the time, Prince was still super accessible. At one of the half dozen parties she attended with him, she walked up to Prince and told him she liked his earrings. He immediately took them out and gave them to her. She then told him she liked his house. Prince giggled, told her it was a nice try and floated out of the room. It’s hard for a woman that hung out with him on the set of Purple Rain to wrap her brain around what a global influence he is.
A homeless woman looked up from the spot where she lay by First Avenue in 1983, no doubt cold and hungry. There stood Prince with his entourage after performing a show. He asked her what she was doing there and after they conversed, he got her to a place called, “Teen Challenge”. Prince made sure the woman was taken care of. Today she is gainfully employed, happily married and has two children.
To a Senior flight attendant, Prince was her favorite First Class celebrity. While other celebrities could be harsh and demanding, Prince was always patient, kind and respectful. Without asking, she would give him his favorite beverage, ginger ale with no ice. In return, he would flash her a smile of recognition and silent thanks.
A court reporter spoke of her experience when Prince and Mayte were involved in court proceedings regarding their privacy after the loss of son, Boy Gregory. Although it was clear Prince was heartbroken, he couldn’t have been more sensitive, caring and attentive to Mayte and those in the courtroom.
There was a group of landscapers that worked on a project at Paisley Park. Every day Prince personally made sure they had enough water to drink on those hot summer days. At the end of the project, Prince threw an elaborate dinner party to thank the men for their hard work.
One of Prince’s favorite places to eat was Rudolph’s Barbecue in Minneapolis. A waitress told of his favorite table, one in an obtuse corner where he could eat somewhat in privacy. The owner, manager and staff, were very protective of the legend and he honored them by leaving huge tips.
Prince granted Chase and the Ovation permission to cover his music for the past 9 years. Chase’s mother was a personal friend of Prince’s mother and Prince himself was in attendance at opening night at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Chase said the band (who boasts rave reviews) will continue to cover Prince’s music at venues in the Twin Cities.
A month prior to Prince’s passing, the manager at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre got a request that Prince wanted two tickets to the Ray Charles tribute performance. They snuck him in after the show started. To the surprise of the audience, Prince got on stage at the end and played for a couple of minutes with the cast, before discreetly disappearing. In typical Prince fashion, he wanted to honor Ray Charles without bringing attention to himself.
A caller spoke of the last party she attended at Paisley Park the weekend before Prince passed. He made an appearance around midnight while 300 people danced to his records. Wearing an all black jumpsuit, he said a few words and showed them his brand new purple Yamaha piano. Prince did not sing that evening. She recalled he looked tired. He sat for a while on the steps that went to his apartment, solemnly watching the crowd.
In addition to his music, Prince’s generosity of spirit, compassion and integrity will most certainly remain in the hearts of all those he touched.
This gifted musician was the epitome of Minnesota nice and we couldn’t be more proud to call him one of our own.