I’m all over the map when it comes to music. I listen to everything from Tool and Dropkick Murphy’s to Terence Trent D’Arby and Johnny Cash. But my first musical and life influence will always be the one, the only – purple one himself – Prince. I’ve been a Prince fan since Controversy was released in ’81. Marquesha Patterson, my friend and a fellow fifth grader, brought his copy of Dirty Mind to school for our Christmas party and I was hooked. Prince was the first person other than me that I wanted to be. And I had no idea – but at the time – he and I were the same height.
I own every Prince album, most of the videos, remixes out the ass, four concerts (yes even one with my mother for 2 of the 3 Purple Rain shows in Memphis) and I could be used as a lyric sheet if ever asked. Yes I’m THAT Prince fan. Sometimes, while I’m in Minneapolis, I drive by Paisley Park Studios just to see if he’s in.
I’M such a Prince fan I have been writing in txt speech since b4 people texted.
I got a chance to meet Prince once…
In 1998 Prince was doing what he called his “Hit and run ” tour. I was in Huntsville Alabama playing the comedy club inside what then was the Holiday Inn. I arrived at about 5 and went to the show room to say hi to the owners. I was told that there wouldn’t be a show that night but not to worry I’d still get paid (which is what I was worried about.) They told me the show had been cancelled because Prince was playing the arena directly across the street.
When I say directly I mean it was across the parking lot.
The next thing I heard was, “Yeah, Prince is actually in the hotel. Him and his whole entourage they’re using the place as a kinda backstage area.”
I dropped my bag and I think I might have peed a little.
Prince was in the building and I was wasting my time talking to the owner.
What the hell.
I said my see ya laters and dropped off stuff in my room before the search/stalking began. As I was getting out of the elevator I saw a tall, leggy man pushing a rack of white costumes around a corner. I, of course, ran after this guy to see if this was for the Prince shows and it was. Not Prince himself but the dancers’ costumes. A sound emanated from me that was high pitched enough and on a special frequency that only dogs and other Prince fans could hear. I knew then that Prince was really somewhere in the building and I was going to find him.
As a performer I’ve done some huge gigs. The largest show I think I ever did was for about 5,000 people. That was opening for Keenan Ivory Wayans. I know performers hide if we can; not to be elusive, but because we need our space pre-show.
The purple one is notoriously the most reclusive performer around. I knew I wouldn’t find him in the presidential suite even if I had the key to that floor.
He wasn’t going to walk out the front door. He’s fucking Prince.
I had to find his exit strategy. I’d been to this gig before and knew there was no underground parking. Just the main lot and 2 rear doors. I checked the first rear door.
Nope… too open…
They were basically a mirror of the front entrance. Way too open for a Prince escape. So I found the second rear door. Now that was more like it. It was just a small driveway in what used to be the main entrance before renovations took place years earlier.
That would be it.
That would be his way to the show and my chance to say hi and thank him for years of inspiration. Especially the songs D.M.S.R., She’s Always in My Hair, and Head.
I didn’t just want to hang around the door though. He had a huge security detail and they probably would have shooed me away for not being a hot chick.
I had to find a hiding place. Somewhere a 6’2″ 305 lb. guy wouldn’t be noticed. There weren’t too many options either. There was a wall and some giant 10′ topiary. That was it. That was all I had to work with. It was getting late and I knew there was no opening act, just Prince himself for at least two hours.
I had to plan. The bushes were my best bet. Actually… they were my only bet. A wall and some bushes.
As a few of you might know, I hate spiders and I was sure those bushes were full of those little bastards. But I wanted to see and meet Prince. Arachnids be damned. I took off one of my shirts, wrapped it around my arm, and beat the hell out of one of the bushes to shake free any potential biters. Then I stepped and fought my way into said bush. It wasn’t easy… I tore my jeans and the other shirt I was wearing, but dammit, I got in there.
I was in that bush for about 15 minutes when a black limo backed into the driveway.
I began to shake.
So did the bush.
The door to the hotel opened and the first of three bodyguards appeared. Now, when I say bodyguards, I mean that in reality, they were three of the biggest what might be humans I had ever seen before.
Between them walked the man himself – Prince.
All 5’2″ of him dressed in white – no more than 10 feet from me.
This was the best day of my life.
I was going to say hi to my idol. He was the second biggest influence in my life, right behind my grandmother. For Catholics, it’s like meeting the Pope. For Michael Jackson fans, it’s like believing he didn’t touch your kid.
It was a moment.
By then he was about 7 feet from me and I could hear his former names symbol jangling around his neck.
The bushes moved and he looked my way.
I screamed like a girl.
You know the scream I’m talking about. It’s that high pitched Prince fan scream of songs from years past.
His bodyguards went into action. Guard Number 2 picked His Royal Badness up by the pants and threw him into the back seat of the limo; which had been graciously ripped open by Guard Number 1. It was an amazing feat of timing. They were flawless, they moved well, and they were well worth whatever he paid them.
As I was climbing out of the bush, the limo burned rubber out of the parking lot. I waved to Prince and his security in the back.
I’m not sure he saw me, but I like to think he did.
Maybe not while he was in the limo, but maybe while I was in the bush. I was just happy I’d gotten to see him since I wasn’t able to go to his concert.
I told this story the next night on stage and the owner came up to me and said “Wow, you’re really that big of a Prince fan?”
“I have the torn shirt and jeans to prove it,” I said.
Later that month I got a package from the club owner. His friend was a photographer for the Huntsville paper and he’d covered the show. He sent me a close-up shot of Prince performing that night.
Sometimes I love my life.