Gary Flockhart: Purple pain over Prince’s sad death

Prince performs at Super Bowl XLI
Prince performs at Super Bowl XLI
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THE king is dead; long live the king. That old proverb referring to the heir who immediately succeeds to a throne upon the death of the preceding monarch sadly doesn’t work on planet pop.

You see, there is no heir apparent to Prince Rogers Nelson. He was out there on his own. Utterly peerless. The Mozart of his generation.

He was the musician who changed everything for me. I was 15 and in high school when I first discovered his music and quickly devoured his incredible back catalogue, buying everything he’d ever released.

Back then, Prince was in his prolific pomp and churning out one classic album after another like a conveyor belt on a fabulous run that began with 1999 and continued through Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day, Parade, Sign O’ The Times and Lovesexy.

Talk about a purple patch – he was writing so many hits back then he could literally give them away. And did.

I first caught Prince live when I went to see him play Wembley Arena in the 80s – and when I say caught, I mean, caught.

At the end of the gig, the Minneapolis maestro threw his tambourine into the crowd and up I rose, like the proverbial salmon, pulling off a catch even Babe Ruth would have been proud of.

A few members of the manic crowd tried to wrestle it from my grip until they were purple in the face, but I wasn’t for letting go.

Sadly, I lost the tambourine later that night after missing my train back to Edinburgh (hey, Prince could go all night once he started playing!) and being forced to spend the night on a bench at the unfathomably seedy King’s Cross station.

Luckily, I’ve seen Prince live many, many times over the years, the last being his 2014 stopover at the Hydro, when he reminded us he was still untouchable as a live performer, powering his way through a barrage of hits from a career spanning four decades and 24 albums. Incredible stuff, really.

I was in Barcelona when Prince died. The terrible news came from a shopkeeper, who must have been telling anyone who’d listen. Well, either that or my purple T-shirt gave me away. What a shock, though. I’d only gone in to buy a bloody postcard.

It didn’t quite spoil the holiday, but I was in a bit of a daze for a good while. That night it was all anyone seemed to be talking about in the bars, though of course none of these fine establishments where playing the likes of When Doves Cry and Raspberry Beret, as they all use Spotify, and Prince doesn’t do streaming services. So unless you have a Tidal subscription, it’s the old-fashioned way or nothing.

No such problem now I’m back home, as I still have everything he ever released. And a fair few bootlegs to boot.

Like many Prince fans, I’m mourning his death while celebrating his life and incredible music. My impression of the wee fella is that he was a fun guy, and he’s probably now painting the afterlife purple.

Anyone who thinks he’d like to rest in peace... sorry, but you haven’t been listening properly.

It’s like the line in his hit song says, “Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down? Oh no, let’s go! Let’s go crazy!”