””

OBITUARY

Singapore fans pay tribute to Prince

Prince, who had never performed here, could have done so recently

It was so near, yet so far. Prince could have played his first show here recently, but, in the end, his schedule was just too tight.

And now, the music legend will never grace Singapore with his many talents.

Prince, who died on Thursday at age 57, was still touring until April 14, when he did his final show at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

The gig was part of his intimate Piano & A Microphone Tour which, like its title suggests, featured him singing and playing on a piano.

While most tour dates were for North America, several concert promoters here tried to bring him in while he was performing in Australia and New Zealand in February.


Prince performing in 2001 at the Sziget Festival in northern Budapest, Hungary. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

He sensualised pop music again at a time when it was not a thing to do to get on the radio.

SINGER AND RADIO DJ CHRIS HO

You can't be a soul artist and not have found inspiration in Prince. He did everything himself. He was a genius - the kind of genius any serious musician aspires to.

SINGER VANESSA FERNANDEZ

 

Live Nation Lushington was one of the promoters keen on getting him to play and it was a shame that it did not work out, says Mr Michael Roche, 58, its managing director .

"I think he looked at the offers and he looked at the schedule and said it was not going to happen. We've been trying to get him to play in Singapore for years - he was one of the greatest live artists, a genius," says Mr Roche.

"But he was slightly eccentric. He didn't work in conventional ways. He didn't have a big management company and he didn't have agents.

"You don't go through an agent for Prince. You just had to find him in Paisley Park or somewhere. People would speak to him and he'd say, 'I'll do it', then it doesn't happen."

Prince was as sexual as he was eccentric. He paved the way for artists such as Madonna to use sexuality in their music, says singer and radio DJ Chris Ho, also known as X'ho.

"He was very visual. He became such a sexual symbol in pop music."

Ho says it was important to note Prince was pushing boundaries in the 1980s, a time when Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) - the American committee behind the enforcement of Parental Advisory stickers on risque music releases - was trying to regulate and "clean up pop music".

"He sensualised pop music again at a time when it was not a thing to do to get on the radio."

Because many of his 1980s and early 1990s songs were banned in Singapore, Ho resorted to buying them when he travelled overseas or getting friends who did to buy them for him.

Sports presenter, former radio deejay and actor Mark Richmond, 44, says the singer's impact was more than just music.

"My whole secondary school life was influenced by his artistry and industry. He taught me hard work and how the smallest details make a difference to the end product.

"These are traits I carry with me to this day. He taught me to immerse myself in the passion and everything else will flow with it."

Like Ho, Richmond remembers getting many of the singer's releases overseas.

"He was marked out as a naughty artist, but some of his naughty lines were not caught because they were too cheeky - such as 1999's 'I got a lion in my pocket and baby he's ready to roar'."

Warner Music Singapore general manager Simon Nasser also says Prince stood out because he "had a unique way of using sensuality in his music".

"He was short in stature, but tall in sexiness."

Prince's music made an impacton many contemporary musicians in Singapore, many of whom were not born when he propelled to fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Soul-pop singer-songwriter Dru Chen, 26, says Prince shaped his approach to making music. "Prince, like David Bowie, gave me the freedom to explore my own sense of funk, spirituality, sexuality, artistry and self-expression in music.

"He and my childhood violin teacher are my biggest influences. He made me feel all right to be short, skinny, different and completely uncompromising in my art form."

Chen says the closest he got to his idol was when he met and worked with Prince's former bandmates - Doctor Fink and back-up singers and dancers Maya and Nandy McClean - in Australia and the United States.

Singer-songwriter Tim De Cotta, 30, who plays in soul, jazz and funk groups TAJ, L.A.B, Neodominatrix and Tim De Cotta & The Warriors, says Prince was always "ahead of his time".

"He had this unique approach to his R&B, soul and funk roots and he put it out there with a lot of edge and courage and made those genres relevant to newer generations."

Singer Vanessa Fernandez, 33, says she got into his music in her late 20s. "You can't be a soul artist and not have found inspiration in Prince. He did everything himself. He was a genius - the kind of genius any serious musician aspires to."

Sujin Thomas, 37, guitarist of progressive rock band In Each Hand A Cutlass, has been listening to Prince's music since his childhood days.

"He was a package deal with not only a slick image, but also the moves and tunes to match, all executed with such precision.

"The world has lost so many music legends this year and his death came as another shock to the system.

"Prince was not only the quintessential singer and entertainer, but also an amazing guitarist. He is a tough act to beat, with 39 studio albums under his belt."

Veteran club band Jive Talkin' did a Prince tribute at Hard Rock Cafe Singapore last night.

Frontman Raffy Aspier, 59, says the band have had plenty of requests over the years for Prince songs such as When Doves Cry, Raspberry Beret and The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.

"His music is unique, each of his songs has its own distinctive style and that's what makes me such a big fan.

"It's not easy to sing his songs. He's got this really weird range that goes from very low notes to a falsetto. His music is everlasting."


• Additional reporting by Anjali Raguraman


• For more stories on Prince, go to http://str.sg/4ZQj

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Farewell to a music legend'. Print Edition | Subscribe