Local musicians react to the death of Prince

Prince plays his guitar during a 2007 press conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Fla. Prince’s publicist confirmed that Prince died at his home in Minnesota on Thursday. He was 57.

When the news of Prince’s death became known Thursday, it provoked gasps. He was just 57. Social media lit up. Prince’s likeness appeared everywhere. Impromptu memorials and remembrances multiplied quickly.

Charleston’s musical community was shaken. Several here consider Prince not just an icon and virtuoso musician but a major influence.

When I heard that he died, I was in a towel getting ready in the hotel (in New Orleans) and I was so upset that I ran into the lobby and just grabbed somebody and told him. I just had to talk to someone about it because I was so shocked.

I’ve known Prince’s music since I was a little kid. ... I was just watching that Prince movie last week, “Purple Rain,” and I was reflecting to myself how original Prince is and how nobody could ever be Prince. He has influenced me a lot, as far as harmonies and musicality and just the rawness. He’s very raw. His vocals and lyrics are very real. ... We performed some of his music in college, and when we really dissected some of his songs, it always impressed me to learn his music inside and out.

Prince’s music is singularly impactful. His catalogue is among the most impressive and expansive. However, in the moment I heard of his passing, it was not his music that I thought of. I even sat there, unable to sip my coffee, stumbling over my words to a friend at a table nearby, wondering what it was that I felt.

It was an intimate sadness. It felt impossibly closer to me than the passing of people I even knew, may they rest in peace. The humanity I felt in that moment and feel now for the death of this man, is like the sadness felt from the passing of a best friend’s mother or father, or the passing of a brilliant teacher who inspired a whole town.

I realize that I am sad for my musician and music-minded brothers and sisters. I feel the collective weight of their reverence for Prince. A supreme teacher has passed. A musical Mother and Father. His lineage is beautiful and exhaustive and complete and exponential. His children are my best friends.

They are the reason I believe in this music thing.

Prince is up there with Dizzy Gillespie, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and a host of other musicians and entertainers, past and present, who I have considered to be the entertainment professors I’ve never met — although I met Dizzy, briefly.

His ability to constantly create music, at an alarming rate, along with his presentation (and) his continuous drive for artistic freedom and musicians’ rights, have made him an artist for whom every living musician should be grateful.

There aren’t too many people in the music industry who have not been touched but his influence — be it music, style or delivery. ... He has left a hole in our entertainment lives, and at the same time, a legacy and legend that will probably never be matched.

Compiled by Abigail Darlington and Adam Parker