Category Archives: dance culture

COVID-19: A New Way of Be-ing

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Today, I am taking time out from hiatus to express my thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world. COVID-19 and its consequential social distancing has changed commerce, communications, entertainment and the way we party. In 2020 A.D., a well-dressed virus has done the cha-cha all over our beloved rituals and humdrum routines, leaving chaos and anxiety in its wake. We are not allowed to even dance with one another in social settings, much less get in someone’​s face to ask for directions. The new normal has arrived and it is virtual, for the most part. Which begs the question; what kind of world do you wish to create? I’d like my future children to have the freedom to dance with others in large groups, if they so desire. It seems that future has been jeopardized by the choices that we, humanity, are making as a collective. Moving too fast with hi-tech lifestyles and spending way less time just sitting with ourselves alone, engaging in honest dialogue with others that is not broken up by sporadic texts sent over a data net like a perverse game of ping-pong.

Turns out, there’s nothing quite like external agency to shake things up and rearrange priorities, especially when people aren’t paying attention to what’s truly important. Clean air and authentic human connections matter more than money. I think this crisis is an opportunity for growth, renewal and letting stuff go whether they be toxic people, fake nails, fake eyelashes, fake attitudes. For those of us who aren’t in danger, we are fortunate to have this luxury of self-isolation to examine who we are and where we want to go while the system resets itself. When it rebounds, if you have done the work on yourself, you may move forward at warp speed, experiencing life in a totally new and incredible way.

My thoughts go out to all those who have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether through illness, loss of loved ones, unemployment and emotional distress. You are not alone. Everyone across the planet is being affected by this crisis in some shape or form. I encourage you to reach out for support; help is available and technology has facilitated its dissemination via social media and online communities.

Social distancing is a challenging situation, where days plod by in a seemingly interminable march towards weeks which eventually turn into months. Believe me – we can do this! When it’s over, we should take care to remember and embody all the insights we have gleaned during this period otherwise the next shakedown might unveil a harsher truth; we may never dance again.

Copyright © 2020 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

AFTER 8…

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8 is symbolic of infinity. A closed double loop signifying completion.

8 years for Frankenräver to evolve and embrace what is to come.

After much thought, I have decided to go on hiatus. Other projects require my full attention and focus so that they can grow into ravishingly successful monsters!

I have tons of articles I’d love to throw up. Unfortunately, the luxury of time is not  abundant like before. Besides, I have given all of you so much to digest over 8 years and further into the future. I figure now it’s time to reap tangible benefits from the talents that I have honed through the hard work and sacrifice that it took to maintain Frankenräver.

This blog has brought many blessings into my life. I am so grateful that I could share my gifts with the globe (over 160 countries to date).

Thanks to all of my fellow Ecstaticans for being part of this wonderful journey! I have gained so much insight about my relationship to dance culture. It is my sincere hope that your lives have been enriched through entertainment, whether through music or my engaging articles.

Do check this page every once in a while as I will post updates on my upcoming projects.

Too late I sank the 8 but wait – the game ain’t over! 😉

Stay Tuned,

Frankenräver

Copyright © 2019 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

Party Legend Ab Boles Turns 70

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Ab Boles and Frankenraver at Architectures

Do you remember this guy?

If you’ve partied in Toronto’s underground within the last 20 plus years, chances are you’ve seen Ab Boles. A flamboyant fixture at countless raves, clubs and warehouse parties, Abs is the elder statesman of dance music culture in the Toronto. He recently got some recognition with a front cover on NOW magazine in August. So when I found out he was celebrating his 70th birthday at the ROUND venue in Kensington Market, I had to pay my respects.

Architectures on Thursdays is known for its chill, psytrance vibe and they delivered as usual. Special guest Living~Stone from Montréal ran the decks with accompanying visuals from Nostylejack. 20% of proceeds from ticket sales went towards Rainforest Alliance, a charity supported by Abs. Now that’s what I call conscious partying. At the rate humans are going, future generations might have nothing but a patch of scorched earth to dance on. Abs’ thoughtful gesture sets an example for many of us to follow.

When I first saw Abs, I was a youth at a rave in the 90’s. I thought he looked old enough to be my dad yet he danced like there was no tomorrow.  I got used to seeing him everywhere; at clubs, parties, The Guvernment, Cherry Beach. Everyone that I knew accepted Abs as he was and left him alone. He always seemed to be completely absorbed in a zone but his outfits were fantastic. I realized that past a certain age, most people retire from the club scene but not Abs. In his world, it was perfectly acceptable to party past middle age. This colourful elder demonstrates that when it comes to raving, age ain’t nothing but a number!

Tonight Abs was warm, effusive and basking in his blessings. I told him how happy I was for him and how much it meant seeing him on the dance-floor all these years. Other revellers approached with gifts. I even met his son. It was touching to see the reverence paid to this elder. Abs still looked the same as I remembered him back in the day. Enough of the age-shaming that is so endemic in western culture – Abs, I salute you for aging defiantly and dancing to the beat of your own drum.  May you live to rave much more!   

Copyright © 2019 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Milli Vanilli: Still Sweet

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Milli Vanilli captured the essence of their time

Few incidents have rocked the music industry like the Milli Vanilli scandal of the 90’s. At the height of their fame, Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus were outed by producer Frank Farian as having lip-synched their way through their hit record and performances. The fallout was huge. Milli Vanilli was stripped of their Grammy for Best New Artist and Arista Records erased their album from its catalog. It was a media circus of astronomical proportions and I was a mildly befuddled spectator, watching from the sidelines. Milli Vanilli’s unmasking yielded lasting personal and financial consequences for the young performers. With time comes perspective and now is a good time to examine this incident with a fresh set of eyes.

Summer of ’89:”Girl You Know It’s True” was burning up the charts and dominating airwaves. However, it was the visual impact of Milli Vanilli’s videos that helped to launch them into the stratosphere. Two extraordinarily handsome, Black men with exotic braids, lithe bodies and chic esthetic danced their way into millions of hearts. I was smitten; Rob and Fab were the epitome of cool. How could I ever forget Rob’s number after being transfixed by those eyes?! It was too much!!! I even went so far as to paint their likenesses with oil pastels on a t-shirt, which I proudly sported. Though there was an odd moment when I thought with a child’s wisdom that Fab’s looks didn’t seem to match his voice, I quickly dismissed that as my imagination. Even the album cover was pretty dope. Milli Vanilli was the new flavour in town and an adoring public couldn’t get enough.

Everyone knows what came afterwards. On the heels of scathing scorn and humiliation, the German-based duo attempted a comeback by singing during live performances. Under new management, they moved to Los Angeles and released an album entitled “Rob and Fab” that did poorly but is collector’s gold today. It seems the wounded ego of the music industry stifled any and all attempts at redemption from Milli Vanilli. The fall from grace was too overwhelming for Robert Pilatus, who sadly succumbed to a drug and alchohol overdose in 1998. The “Back and In Attack” record scheduled for release was shelved, ending the Milli Vanilli era for good. Fabrice soldiers on as a DJ and independent musician, having found the strength to move forward with his life.

Mass deception aside, the memory of Milli Vanilli lingers on like a stubborn aftertaste. Their songs still get airplay and you know what? The music is great! Iconic basslines don’t lie. “Baby Don’t Forget My Number” is one of the best music videos of all time. Rob and Fab had looks, presence, style AND moves. I still enjoy their performances immensely. Those guys had something, a spark that’s missing from a lot of performers these days. They captured the essence of their time and they delivered. Sure they lip-synched their way to the top but now that’s standard practice for ye average pop-star. Watching Milli Vanilli now makes me realize that perhaps they were judged too harshly for their actions. They brought joy and entertainment to millions so they’re not such bad guys, right?

Behind the rise and fall of every empire is a story. Milli Vanilli is a tale of 2 Black youth from Europe lusting after stardom. Enter Frank Farian, a German producer with a shady history of fronting Black music shell acts like 70’s phenomenon Boney M (who didn’t sing most of their songs). The trio forge a Faustian pact that brings Rob and Fab success but at what a cost! The dance-pop duo claimed they were exploited by Farian, yet they decided to go along with the charade from the start. If anything, theirs is a cautionary fable of the pitfalls awaiting those who seek a fast-track to fame. And yet, underneath it all, is heartbreak and resilience. A meteoric rise from poverty and shattered childhood to worldwide acceptance and back again. This is the real story that needs to be told. Fabrice opens up in this interview with VLADTV accessible via http://www.fabmorvan.com –  a must-see! In this era of docudramas, the time is right for us to know more about Rob and Fab. No disrespect to Charles Shaw and the original vocalists, but these 2 will forever remain Milli Vanilli.

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Source: collectors.com

R.I.P. Rob, you are sorely missed!

Props to Fab for surviving  it all

Copyright © 2019 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

Cool Music Videos I Somehow Missed

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Hey y’all, I’m back! Somehow I continue to surprise myself by still having something to say on this blog. That being said, if ya haven’t noticed, time goes by really, really fast! So fast, sometimes you miss a lotta good stuff! Here’s my pick of amazing vintage videos that I’ve seen for the first time very recently. One of them, “Spacer,” is a song that I never heard either until now. Life is full of surprises and that’s why Frankenrӓver is still here.

“Spacer” by Sheila and B. Devotion (1979) is a disco classic produced by legendary hitmakers Chic (Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards). French singer Annie Chancel sings about her intergalactic love affair with an extraterrestrial while Black Devotion dancers Freddy Stracham, Arthur Wilkins and Dany MacFarlane cavort seductively in the background. This is a well-choreographed video steeped in futurism, judging from the stellar props, costume design and slick dance routine. Check out the cyborg at 1:15 which may have inspired that of iconic sci-fi film, Terminator. In our galaxy you can’t trust everyone you meet but one thing for sure is you can trust on-point production values to create a video that stands the test of time.

 

Seems teenaged boys from da hood of Roxbury, Boston got secret fantasies that ain’t so hard to figure out: girls and NBA stardom. The question in this video is which one? Enter New Edition’s “My Secret” (Didja Getit Yet?) Released in 1985 during the giddy years of pop, this has to be one of the cutest videos that escaped my radar back in tha day! Ralph Tresvant is obviously the star of this video, working his bike with wild enthusiasm for the opening sequence. Why, everyone on the corner just loves these talented Black boys who aren’t causing any trouble…just busting moves, getting cute girls of different ethnicities all worked up! Of course, Ralph gets the girl of his dreams and takes her to see an NBA game with the fellas. It’s Lakers vs Blazers and Magic Johnson’s centre court with coach Pat Riley on the sidelines. With the game tied at 124 with 12 seconds on the clock, it seems Magic needs some extra mojo to pull off a victory. So he calls Ralph down to save the day! This entire scene is surrounded by a halo, making it clear that this is a daydream. At the end, Ralph’s dream kinda comes true in a rather endearing, if unlikely way. I’m sure it was the record label’s idea and it actually works here. Though the song is clearly about a guy falling in love with a girl, the video leaves you guessing as it shows Ralph riding off at the end, ecstatic after meeting NBA superstar Magic Johnson. It’s a bromance yo!

 

Classic summer anthem “Vamos a la Playa” by Righeira (1983) has a very interesting background. Although it contains Spanish lyrics, the singers Stefano Rota and Stefano Righi are Italian. Both languages are pretty similar to begin with, so it was a no-brainer to pick Spanish since more peeps speak it globally than Italian. This video is a perfect primer on 80’s fashions for men: high-waisted baggy pants, short sleeved stripey shirts clashing with patterned ties. Fun! The polarized neon tint symbolizes a nuclear explosion that has just gone off in the ocean. But not to worry: now the water is clean because the fish are gone, plus baskers are wearing sombreros to keep radioactive wind out of their hair. That’s a pretty deep sociological statement about our messed up world but damn, what a cool video!

 

Last week, I plugged these words I remembered from a song in my childhood  into a search engine: “On the double, think I’m in trouble.” And googlemonster responded with “Trouble” by Lindsey Buckhingham. Astonishing. Who else could compose an alt-pop song of such transcendent quality? Lindsey Buckingham, that’s who! The mercurial frontman of Fleetwood Mac dropped this timeless bomb from solo album Law and Order in 1981. Like a time-travelling cyborg, it found me in the future and detonated a delightful blast in me brain. I love the playful contrast implied between good and bad, seduction and restraint symbolized by guitar gods on one side, devil drummers on another. Bandmate Mick Fleetwood makes a wonderful guest appearance with his tall, funny self. And Lindsey’s guitarpicking is superb. This dreamy number is now a permanent staple on my playlist.

 

“Gotta Go Home” (1979) by Boney M. is one of the most gorgeous videos I’ve ever seen. Extravagant colourful costumes, sparkly special effects plus steelband players in space-themed outfits equal mindblowing visuals. Makes you long for sandy beaches and island breeze, miles away from big city bustle. This song was produced by the notorious Frank Farian, who ruthlessly exploited people of African descent to front his musical numbers. Although Boney M. was a wildly successful act, only 2 of the band members, Marcia Barrett and and Liz Mitchell actually sang on the early records; the male vocals were recorded by Farian in the studio. So Bobby Farrell, the Black male dancer was simply there to do what Frank Farian could not: look super.

80’s pop sensation Milli Vanilli was another infamous casualty of Farian’s controversial shell group practice. It’s entirely possible Milli Vanilli was inspired to run in one place for their “Girl You Know It’s True” video like Bobby Farrell does here at 4:22. We know they didn’t get very far. But I digress. No matter how it came together, “Gotta Go Home” is a great song and this is an awesome video. Rock on!

Copyright © 2018 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Frankenrӓver Turns 6!

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Source: birthdaywishes.net

My Dear Ecstaticans,

After 6 years, I can’t believe y’all still be reading my blog! In this age of mass distraction, it is no small feat to still have an audience. To be honest, I have thought about annexing the blog. It is now more than 20 years since the rave era began in Toronto. And that’s a sobering reality. I am an adult with real-world responsibilities, yet I still remain a raver at heart!

Evidently my blog needs to evolve in a different direction. Less focus on parties and more attention on quality music that gets lost in the mad shuffle of commercialization. There are so many under-appreciated artists and classic songs that more people should be aware of. To that end, stay tuned for more savoury treats from the bubbling cauldron that is my brain 😉

Speaking of savoury, enjoy this Boiler Room set by Chicago house legend, Roy Davis Jr. Peace out x

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Roni Size / Reprazent New Forms Turns 20

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20 years ago on this day, June 23rd 1997, seminal album New Forms was released by U.K. drum and bass producer Roni Size and Reprazent, a collective of artistes including Onallee, DJ Krust, Suv, Die and Dynamite MC. The successful mashup of spaced out jazz with hip-hop infused drum and bass earned Size/Reprazent the Mercury Prize in 1997 and heavy hitter status during the 90’s rave era.

I happened upon this album sometime in 1998. “Brown Paper Bag” happened to be playing on a T.V. where I worked and I was hooked. To top it off, the video was shot in Toronto! An extended intro featuring a double bass doing a seductive number with a flirty guitar, like a conversation leading back to bass place…that conversation par excellence helped that song become a bonafide hit. At first I got the single C.D. but later acquired the double disc. And that, in and of itself, was a revelation.

From the head-bopping infectious rhyming of Dynamite MC on “Railing” to the digital staccato burst of “Morse Code”  this mind-blowing album took me on a joyride through superlatively rich soundscapes. “Share The Fall” featuring Onallee’s éclair whipped vocals became a classic DnB anthem. American MC Bahamadia’s hypnotic heist on “Feeling So High” left heads speechless. Clearly, this maverick collaboration was a critical and commercial success. Roni Size graced the cover of several music magazines, somewhat overshadowing the Reprazent crew. Heck, I even saw Size spin at a rave in Toronto (he’d shorn the locks, I was disappointed! His set satisfied me though :).

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Roni Size / Reprazent

It’s fair to say that if you have not heard Disc 2 of New Forms, you are truly missing out. If you listen carefully, it becomes evident that water plays a predominant part in the production. Which is hardly surprising when you consider that Roni Size is Scorpio, a water sign. Moody and playfully mellow, “Down” is anything but. I felt like a leaf, meandering down a burbling brook on an overcast day as the water swirled around me. Skillful breakbeats layered with jazzy instrumentals, strategic looping and clever phasing give this double album an atmospheric feel that is unparalleled. It is full of textures, ranging from mysteriously edgy to effervescent. I love playing it on a rainy day as it amplifies that warm cozy feeling that makes me glad to be indoors with a hot cuppa tea, getting a proper rinsing!

20 years later, I still listen to New Forms. It sounds every bit as fresh as it did back then. Sure, I have bigger concerns than getting a fresh pair of cargos for the next rave but you know what? It just makes me all the more thankful that I had this amazing experience. Oh, and “Hot Stuff” is going off in the background, which brings to mind supers and laying down in bed, admiring my silver tone bubble chair and my Liquid Adrenaline poster which I will never forgive my mother for accidentally throwing out.

I could go on and on about the cool sound effects on each track like the windchimes on “Ballet Dance” but I suggest you discover this brilliant gem of an album yourself. Or revisit it from a mature perspective. There is much to love and appreciate about New Forms as we evolve over time.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

82 Year Old DJ Sumirock’s Solid

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Let’s face it: at 82, society thinks you’re washed up. Why, you’d be considered lucky if you could knit a scarf and walk to the corner store without falling down. You are old and for the most part invisible, a useless relic of a vibrantly youthful past. Or so they would have us believe.

ENTER DJ SUMIROCK

This senior, seriously funky Japanese citizen is making jaws drop around the world. At an age where most people want the music turned down, she’s turning it up! Sumiko Iwamuro started spinning in her 70’s after her husband passed away and now has a monthly club residency in Tokyo’s infamous red light district. On top of that, she still works as a full-time cook at a Chinese resto which she has been doing for 60 years. I bet she makes a mean teriyaki!

According to CGTN, Iwamuro said, “My setlist is based on music that I feel like dancing to. I’m physically very strong. I stand all day in the kitchen, ride my bicycle home, walk my dog for half an hour so I don’t have a lot of free time. I can deejay at this age because I’m very healthy and I’m very lucky to have a place to work.”

Does this sound like an “old person?” Definitely not! An elderly lady with a taste for techno and dark glasses – most defo!

Kudos to DJ Sumirock for showing us that as long as you have health, you’re never too old to pursue your dream. In a world intent on discarding the elderly and invalidating women especially as we approach middle age, Sumiko Iwamuro defies the narrow minded stupidity of youth obsessed society. As I observe her on the decks, I admire her relaxed approach, calm focus and pure enjoyment, not to mention her sexy outfit!

DJ Sumirock, I hope you get to play in New York someday. You are a brave soul, a true inspiration and I know you will do a fantastic job. Domo arigato!

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

All Gender Bathrooms At Raves

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Gender neutral bathrooms are a hot topic. In recent times they have been popping up in public and private facilities and their popularity is increasing. Laws were recently passed in America allowing school children and people to use the washroom that corresponds to their gender as opposed to their sex. These tentative steps toward gender parity are now in danger of being overturned by a regressive administration intent on fostering division and discord instead of peace and unity.

In the midst of all this chaos, it’s refreshing to know that in the 90’s rave era, washrooms (women’s in particular) became gender neutral during peak periods. For argument’s sake, let’s call this spontaneous occurrence AGBAR – this blogpost title in acronym form. When there are thousands of people rushing all at once and they need to pee (sometimes ALL at once), it truly doesn’t matter which friggin bathroom you decide to use. It was not unusual to see guys and trannies traipsing into the girl’s washroom and vice versa. Men actually preferred ours because they said it was cleaner. “Girls are so lucky! You don’t know what we have to put up with!”, a male raver once CONfessed as he washed his hands next to yours truly. Let me emphasize that at no time did I ever feel unsafe when men and transgendered folks needed to use the ladies’ washroom at a rave. Security was well aware of the situation but I never saw them intervene. AGBAR was in full effect, and although there may have been unpleasant incidents, neither myself nor anyone I knew ever heard of or witnessed them. Ecstasy is reputed to have a neutralizing effect on baser instincts that lead to violence. With everyone feeling all loved up and rushy-rushy, I’m sure the number 1 concern for ravers of all genders using the toilet was to make sure their pants or skirt was really down so as not to piss or crap all over it. Lord knows I’ve had a couple of close calls – can you say ECSTAPEE OH YEAHHHH!!!!

World renowned dance club Fabric London had gender neutral toilets that were conspicuously monitored by security personnel. Hilarious conversations would transpire around the circular sink fountain as guys and girls washed their hands together in peace, all gung ho for AGBAR and the great spirit of togetherness fostered by that overwhelming need to relieve that plagues all genders, all sexes, all nations! And we behaved like civilized beings.

For a dance culture movement that has been much maligned by politicians and mainstream media, it’s funny that ravers helped pioneer a successful social experiment in gender inclusivity, well ahead of the curve. Outside of that peace loving party atmosphere, the reality of rape culture society sets in, making the scenario outlined in the previous paragraph unthinkable in everyday circumstance. Despite the fact that ravers in the 90’s were often perceived as dirty, drug addled degenerates, I was never sexually assaulted at a rave. Not even when I wandered for hours in a sea of Ecstaticans after being separated from my friends. People were so kind, respectful, and they looked out for you. Hopefully one day, stone cold sober society will catch up to where we were. And remember to wash up on the way out.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Prince: The Dove Has Flown

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Prince has passed away. The aftershock of this seismic occurrence will be felt for some time to come within the music industry and amongst his legions of fans, not to mention his close associates. I, for one, am still coming to terms with the blow of his sudden demise. “Life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last,” as he once famously sang in the hit classic “1999.” Just a week before he died, I had christened my new stereo by playing Purple Rain. And now he’s gone. Surreal.

I am deeply saddened by his death, because he seemed so young with so much life left to live. Weeks of playing his music, basking in the warmth of his phenomenal talent, processing all his fantastic accomplishments. Now I can accept that he is gone and think about what his legacy means to me.

Let’s face it; Prince’s catalogue is mindboggling. With 39 studio albums, a plethora of bootlegs and hundreds, maybe thousands of unreleased tracks chilling in the vault, the biggest question remains what does this mean for his music? That remains to be seen. Prince was notoriously protective of his work, but his fans are having a field-day judging from the glut of videos on YouTube lately. As a matter of fact, I received a notice from his lawyers to remove footage I`d shot of his Welcome 2 Canada concert in 2011 or have my YouTube account deleted. I complied, wondering how some 2 minute low res clips could possibly pose a threat to Prince. But nonetheless, it was oddly gratifying to receive a warning letter from Team P. I simply wanted to share the experience with those who could not make it. And evidently, there were plenty of people who wanted to see His Royal Badness, seeing how my videos racked up a total of over 7,000 views for 1 glorious week.

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Prince mural on a sidewalk in Toronto, Canada.

Prince was the soundtrack to my adolescence. The first time I remember seeing him was on a Billboard countdown on T.V. He was in the top 5, inching closer to number 1 with “When Doves Cry.” I saw this strange looking dude dressed in purple and a frilly shirt with a morose expression on his face. I didn’t know what to make of him. I couldn’t tell whether he was black or white. I decided not to like him. And then I saw Purple Rain, the movie. I was blown away by this temperamental, stylishly talented musician and the mercurial drama surrounding him. The wardrobe was hip and astonishingly extravagant with lots of lace, big hair and big boobs heaving out of corsets. I liked how he fought with The Revolution, especially with the rather masculine Wendy, and the fact that he mentioned masturbating (!) in Darling Nikki. And how he humped the stage so hard that Apollonia got upset and ran out of the theatre. In a kid’s mind, this was pretty cool stuff.

Shortly thereafter I went to the local record store to buy the tape. It was run by this super cool guy who sort of resembled Prince. Carlos had a permed coif accented with blonde highlights. I had a huge crush on him. So much that I would go into the store and rummage through records, stealing glances at his big dreamy bedroom eyes and moist succulent lips. But of course, I was too young to really know much about sex, except that it was grown up stuff and judging from what went down in Purple Rain…pretty damn confusing too. There was also a pretty girl who worked with Carlos, rocking a similar Afro-punk style. I felt like they were part of some secret society that knew all about the Purple Rain life except me. The tape he sold me was a bootleg. No cover art but I didn’t care. I played the heck out of that cassette, feeling like I had discovered a soulmate, a rebel, someone who understood how I felt. As a bonus, Carlos thoughtfully included part of The Time’s LP on the recording. I loved how Purple Rain would segue into “Jungle Love” straight after the violins. That tape is now lost in the annals of time. The way it shaped my brain development though, will last a lifetime.

Fast forward to 1985, Long Island, New York. I am spending the night with this rather rambunctious girl named T and her mom. T is a HUGE Prince fan. She has the Purple Rain album. We play the record and sing along. I admire the album art, especially the flowers strewn amidst the liner notes. T gives her mom plenty of lip, virtually non-stop sass. I am amazed at just how much American kids can get away with when it comes to talking back to their parents. I feel sorry for her mom who can’t get T to listen or cooperate. The yelling continues. T sprints away, only to run straight into a wall, breaking her hand in the process. Which means T’s track and field meet for tomorrow has just gone up in flames. Her agonizing screams are nerve shattering. T’s mother scolds her soundly, saying that if she had listened, this would not have happened. They go off to the hospital, leaving me alone in the apartment. I get to enjoy the Purple Rain LP in solitude. Nice!

That summer, I acquired “Around The World In A Day.” This time, it is a bonafide recording with cover art. I dig the colourful swirls and funky fonts but above all, I feel the music. It takes me to different worlds that I have never encountered, but Prince and The Revolution make them come alive in my head. I am especially enamoured with “Tambourine.” The tape does not fall apart, no matter how many times I rewind and repeat that song. Little did I know that several years later, my little sister would sneak into my room, bang that tape and subsequently fall in love with it. She confessed to having a similar obsession with Tambourine, a seemingly innocuous song about a musical instrument. Or so I thought back then…

around the world in a day tape

Rock of ages. Just won`t quit!

1992: I am the 108th caller on a radio contest, thereby winning a pair of tickets to see Prince in addition to The Love Symbol tape. Hardly believing my luck, I phoned my boyfriend and broke the news. “I’m not coming to watch you take your panties off and throw it onstage!” he declared. Seriously dude? Get your mind outta the gutter! “Chances are my panties will land on someone else’s head before it ever gets anywhere near Prince,” I reasoned. Surely he could see the sense in that? Nope. So I invited my aunt instead. She was ecstatic and we went to Maple Leaf Gardens. It was the first time I saw Prince in concert. The atmosphere was raw and electric. He performed sexy MF (he swore!) and Mayte Garcia was stunning. It was one of my happiest moments ever. Needless to say, my panties stayed on. The boyfriend became pop history shortly thereafter.

Circa 1997, my co-worker introduces me to his friend Ed. He thought we would get along because we both love Prince. He’s right. Ed is a Prince fanatic. In fact, we hit it off so well that we become raving buddies. Just imagine Prince brought 2 ravers together! I think Ed was relieved that he could wild out about Alexander Nevermind and I wouldn’t think him odd. Ed had bootlegs, videos, stuff that I’d never heard of or even knew about. Obviously he had the time and energy to keep up with Prince, who could easily drown you in a river of records. I was glad that someone else took care of the legwork while I got to enjoy the benefits. Hey, that’s what friends are for!

Over the years, Prince has brought joy into my life with his music and unique presence. I was fortunate to have seen him perform a number of times. There is no question he is the most talented musician I have ever seen. It is hardly likely that there will be many more of his calibre in our era due to a shifting soundscape. With the advent of technology, there is less appreciation and effort made to produce recordings with live instruments. The beauty of Prince was his ability to marry tech (synths, drum machines) with a solid musical foundation of funk, pop, rock and soul. He owned his sound and his style. He drew mass attention to injustice within the industry during his infamous battle with Warner Bros. Back then, I didn’t understand what he was so upset about but I sure as hell do now.

Thank you, Prince, for teaching me so much about myself. Your passing gave me pause for consideration. It made me take an honest look at life. I felt sad, not just because you are gone, but because I never took the time to consider your pain as a human being. You were larger than life but you weren’t exempt from suffering; just better at transcending it than most. A true inspiration and shining example for humans to be their exceptional best. I Wish U Heaven.

Copyright © 2016 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.