Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"I Want to Play You this Old Song" - Interview with Chuck Zwicky

It's been a while since I published a sneak peek at an interview I've completed for the book. A few months ago, I spoke with Prince's engineer, Chuck Zwicky, who worked with the artist from 1987 to 1989.

I ask everyone if they think Prince was religious or spiritual during their time with him. Some say yes, some say no and others don't know. Some had conversations about God with Prince, others didn't.

Of course I can't give it away here, but Zwicky had one of the most unique answers to that question. He made me think about Prince's spiritual music and performances in a way I hadn't before. In fact, he had a fresh perspective on a lot of topics, including Prince's method of working and the way in which his staff received credit for recordings.

I will share one random, interesting fact: Prince had strep throat when he recorded "Elephants and Flowers" (I've always loved his voice on that track, ha!).

Stay tuned for more interviews; at this point, I have four more to transcribe.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

"Posters all Over the Walls" - Decorative Prince Pieces

Since moving to my new apartment in Columbus, I have yet to hang anything on my walls besides a calendar and dry erase board.

I think I'm going to put my old Prince poster in the kitchen. I also want to start displaying some recent pieces I've acquired. Before I do, I thought I'd share them with you below.

Back in May, my sister discovered that a neighbor was selling collectible Prince items for--get this--$1 each! Most people would have charged a fortune, especially since Prince had just passed away. Anyway, my sister bought this for me, and I plan to get it framed.

Rolling Stone, April 28, 1983

Back in October, I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Herb Ritts exhibit and, naturally, purchased a post card bearing this iconic image. I was thinking of hanging it in the bathroom, but I think I'll put it in a frame on my desk, table or dresser.

Photo by Herb Ritts, 1991

I don't expect to display these items, but just thought I'd share.

More Rolling Stone magazines

Various publications

My sister was so excited to give this to me.

Actual polaroid from the Purple Rain tour

If this is your first time here, my name is Erica Thompson and I've been writing a book on Prince's spiritual journey for nearly a decade (ha, ha) and blogging about it here for over five years. I hope you'll stick around and check out some of my older posts.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"When I Need Someone to Talk to" - Updated List of Interviews (2016)

I figured I'd create one go-to blog entry for the most updated list of interviews for the Prince book. In addition to keeping my readers up-to-date (and myself organized), it allows me to quickly tell potential sources whom I've already interviewed.

Interview with former pre-Revoluation band member Gayle Chapman

Interviews with Rolling Stone journalists

Interview with former press agent Howard Bloom

Interview with former Warner Bros. Director of Publicity Roberta Burrows

Interview with gossip columnist CJ

Interview with former church youth group leader Art Erickson

Brief chat with a very special person

Interview with a family member

Interview with members from the Seventh-Day Adventist church Prince attended

Interview with Larry Graham

Interview with former music collaborator Chris Moon

Interview with former girlfriend Jill Jones

Interview with former set and lighting designer Roy Bennett

Interview with former business associate Craig Rice

Interview with former stagehand and production assistant Cheryl Sonny Thompson

Interview with flower girl Ali Zampino

Interview with former girlfriend Devin Devasquez

Interview with former engineer Chuck Zwicky

Interview with former associate Yarima Karama

Interview with former girlfriend Terri Ivens

Interview with friend Carole R. Davis

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Tears Go Here" - Rest in Peace, Prince

Re-posted from Columbus Alive

My heart is heavy because we just lost Prince, one of the most significant figures in American popular music. In the 1980s, his cutting-edge music broke down barriers in a segregated industry. He challenged censorship and social conventions with his frank, sexually charged lyrics and performances, and the Purple Rain album and blockbuster movie solidified him as a pop icon.

Prince was also a musical virtuoso — he mastered numerous instruments and genres, released over thirty albums and penned songs for many other artists. An innovator in the music industry, he fought Warner Bros. to gain control of his master recordings, and became one of the first artists to use the Internet to distribute music. Another inventive business move comes to mind: He included a copy of his 2004 Musicology album with each ticket to his popular concert tour, thus securing high album sales and the number three spot on the Billboard 200.

But more than anything, Prince has been a major part of my life. I was first introduced to Prince via his 1990 movie, “Graffiti Bridge,” the “Purple Rain” sequel that my sister and I watched frequently along with Michael Jackson’s “Moonwalker.” I am certain that I heard the song “1999” over-played on the radio, along with “When Doves Cry,” “Kiss,” and “Adore.”

However, I didn’t become a super-fan until my junior year of high school in 2002. BET was repeatedly running “Purple Rain.” I sat down to watch the movie and was surprised that I had never seen it. I thought the movie was interesting, but one scene especially caught my attention:  the performance of the song “Computer Blue.”  I was intrigued by the way Prince played guitar, and I knew in that moment that he was an extraordinary musician.  I was hooked.

I became obsessed with researching Prince’s career (listening to old albums, reading biographies, etc.). In 2004, I lied to my professor to get out of a school engagement so I could see him play at the Gund Arena in Cleveland. I was also fortunate enough to see him again in 2010 at Madison Square Garden. Call me superstitious, but I felt in my heart that this pattern of seeing Prince every six years would continue; I just knew he’d be coming to Columbus this summer, but he has passed on to a better place…

Prince is also the center of what I consider my life’s work, a book on his spiritual journey. It may seem crazy, but Prince always explored spirituality in his life and music, even in his most sexually explicit songs. He became a Jehovah’s Witness later in life, but my intention is not to convert the reader to a particular faith. The fascinating part of the story is how he overcame his internal struggles to achieve a peace which I’m sure comforted him up until his death.

I was hoping to meet and interview Prince one day, but I was prepared to finish my book if that did not happen. So even though I am distraught, I am committed to finishing what I started. Prince certainly completed what he was destined to do in his lifetime, and his amazing music will continue to be a part of my life (when I can bear to listen to it again). With that said, I’ll leave you with one of his quotes from a 1990 Rolling Stone interview:

“When I pray to God, I say, ‘It’s your call — when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. But as long as you’re going to leave me here, then I’m going to cause much ruckus!’”

What is your favorite memory of Prince?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

"Comin' From the Land of Snow" - Prince's Autobiography

After publishing my blog entry on Wednesday, I was wondering if I'd find another topic for the week. Well, ask and you shall receive.

Prince just announced that he will publish his memoir in fall 2017.

I received this news at 4 a.m. in this morning. Of course my first response was to freak out, cry and send a frantic e-mail to the professor who helped me with the book. I wondered, "Does this mean I should quit?"

However, after receiving some wonderful encouragement, I'm OK. So, in the spirit of thinking positive, here is why I will keep going:
  1. Prince's publishers, Spiegel & Grau, mentioned that the memoir would be "unconventional" and "poetic." So it's likely that our books will be different, especially given that I am focusing solely on his spiritual journey.

  2. People write books on artists all the time--even if the artists have autobiographies. It's not the end of the world.

  3. I can use this as an opportunity to push myself and finish the book before his comes out. I still have time. So, it's time to get back on a schedule
I am so grateful to have a few people who lift me up during times like these--especially people following my journey online. Here is a snippet of a nice message that I received from someone on Facebook:
"I don't think you should give up....I will buy your book....Your book is a fresh perspective: spirituality. Prince has leaned on his beliefs throughout his career to explain his talents and success. Deep exploration will be fascinating." 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"Rich on Personality" - Creating My Brand

I will not fail my 52-blog challenge! Due to my crazy, busy life, I didn't blog last week, but I am still on track! I mentioned earlier that if I missed a week of blogging, I would make up for it with two blogs the following week. So, here is one blog of two for the week!

I am always thinking of ways to improve the blog. Lately I've been trying to figure out how to make a name for myself. I want to become well-known as a respected writer. As I gain "fans," I increase the chances of getting new views on apurpledayindecember.com. Here is what I have done to reach my goal:

1) I created a Facebook page. Facebook's advertising platform is so sophisticated. I'm looking forward to building an audience and creating campaigns to drive them to the blog.

2) I got a full-time journalism job. At the end of March I will start a new job as an assistant editor at an arts and entertainment publication! This will only help my credibility as a writer.

3) I created a YouTube channel. My videos primarily showcase my opinion on new R&B and soul music. However, I hope that the audience will take me seriously as a music critic and therefore take an interest in my blog. Here is a little peek into the video series:

What album should I review next?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

"Another 300 Melodies" - Unreleased Prince Music & Other Projects

What a week! I started an exciting new music journalism project (more info to come), and I came down with a terrible cold. In fact, I'm still sick, so this will be a short blog entry.

Lately I've been thinking about Prince's "vault," or vast collection of unreleased songs, albums, videos and other projects. The vault is legendary, and many fans are hoping that he will begin to share some of this material as part of his new partnership with Warner Bros

I often wonder if I should analyze music from the vault, but I'm sticking to my decision to leave it alone. After all, the material is not readily available, and getting the material from a bootlegger would be illegal. Other biographers have heard the songs, but I don't want to simply use their analyses and "water down" my book.

However, I am interested in some projects that were released but are just rare. One example is the ballet featuring Prince's music. Additionally, I keep hearing about documentaries that were made about Prince. I have to find out if they were official or unofficial...

Well, I need to go take some Nyquil. Be back next week!

What is your favorite unreleased Prince project?