Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"Paisley Park is in Your Heart" - Interview with Karen Krattinger

"[Prince's father] was a lovely human being. ... I think you have to have a love of God to have a heart like that."

Thanks to Prince's former press agent Robyn Riggs, I was able to get in touch with Karen Krattinger, who worked as Prince's production coordinator, road manager and general manager of PRN Productions from 1984 to 1989. She also helped build Paisley Park Studios.

Krattinger shared her experience returning to the Minnesota complex after Prince's death. I'm not sure if much of this will make it into my book, so I'll include it here:

"I absolutely lost my breath and burst into an emotional crying and heaving that shocked me," Krattinger said of walking into Paisley Park. She and other former employees took the public tour, which was a treat for the guides.

"They loved hearing our stories because everything they're going on is a script that someone gave them," Krattinger said. She also expressed that she was happy to be there even though she wasn't able to see her old office or the board room she decorated.

The parts of the interview I'll definitely use include Krattinger's details about Prince's relationship with his family. I always like asking people about Prince's dad, whose own spiritual beliefs may or may not have influenced Prince.

Krattinger said she considered Prince to be a spiritual person. Major Prince fans will know Krattinger was tangentially connected to "Blue Tuesday," an important day in Prince spiritual history (more on that in the book), so it was nice to chat a bit about that.

Because of Krattinger, I was able to get interviews with more of Prince's former employees (check back for those). I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to speak with someone so significant in Prince's career in the 1980s. And Krattinger told me her parents met in Columbus, Ohio, where I currently live! Honestly, I have experienced so many coincidences on this journey that I'm not surprised by them anymore.

Thanks for reading!

I will be presenting my research at Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince at the University of Salford in Manchester, England, in late May. Click here to donate to my GoFundMe campaign. 

"Say Yes! Say No!" - Interivew with Robyn Riggs

"He would make decisions based on what God was telling him. Sometimes all of us would just go, 'Oh my gosh, oh really?' But in his mind, in his world, with his talent, where did it come from?" 

Sometimes you have to call a car dealership to get an interview for your Prince book. That's how I tracked down Robyn Riggs, who handled Prince's media relations in different capacities from roughly 1983 to 1988 as part of the Howard Bloom Organization. While she currently sells cars, she was once in one of the most powerful positions in the entertainment industry at just 25 years old.

What stands out the most to me about Riggs' time with Prince is the importance of saying "yes" and "no." For example, before she was promoted to the position of having sole control over his media relations, Prince's camp would often respond to journalists' inquiries with "no comment." That reaction arguably hurt Prince's image at the time (see the "We Are the World" catastrophe).

"We started making statements so we could have some kind of control over what was being put out there," Riggs said. "And it changed the dynamic, I think, of the way the press perceived him to be."

Just as saying "yes" to the media proved beneficial, honoring Prince's requests kept you employed (unless, of course, he got a bad "vibe" from you, then you didn't stand a chance). Riggs worked hard to fulfill Prince's wishes, but she wasn't afraid to stand up to him. But during one situation in 1988--involving Rolling Stone journalist Kurt Loder--she felt she had to say "no," and that was the end of her tenure with Prince.

"I had fallen on many, many, many swords for [Prince]," she said. "I couldn’t fall on that one."

(More on this in the book, sorry.)

While some people who knew Prince never saw his religious side, Riggs is in the camp that vouches for his spirituality even as early as the 1980s. She also provided me with valuable insight into his personality.

It was truly a delight speaking with Riggs, and she put me in touch with another important source: Karen Krattinger, who worked for Prince in many roles over the course of five years. Check back for a summary of that interview and more!

I will be presenting my research at Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince at the University of Salford in Manchester, England, in late May. Click here to donate to my GoFundMe campaign. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Let Me Take U 'Round the World" - Purple Reign Conference

Great news! I have been selected to present at "Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince" at the University of Salford in Manchester, England!

During the conference, which takes place May 24-26, scholars will discuss topics from "Prince as embodiment of the post-modern blues aesthetic" to "Prince, the representation of male pop stars and the discourse of girls’ magazines of the 1980s and 1990s." Of course I will present on Prince's spiritual journey, but only from 1958-1988--the span covered by my thesis at Ohio University.

The conference will also feature a Q&A segment with former Prince guitarist Dez Dickerson. It's funny because I've been trying to interview Dickerson since 2010. He even autographed his autobiography for me. I wonder if I'll get that interview now.

This is definitely one of my greatest accomplishments, and it will happen just four days after my birthday! I've had a really rough year, so this is a blessing.

I won't have time to visit London (it's five hours away), but I hope to hop over to Liverpool for some sort of Beatles tour.

As far as my book, I'm getting close to being done. I have an awesome agent who really believes in the project. We're still pitching publishers. I have a good feeling about one in particular; we're waiting for an answer. I'm also hoping I'll meet some publishing contacts at the conference.

I've accumulated an impressive list of interviews and I'm hoping to add more soon. I'm definitely going to lead with my participation in the conference when I submit requests.

As a journalist, I live a very modest lifestyle, so I've started a GoFundMe campaign for travel expenses. It's really for friends and family members who have seen me cry, scream and stress out over my book for years and want to help. However, I'll accept donations from any supporters.

I'll be sure to share pictures and video from the conference here. I'm also planning to ramp up my blogging.

As always, thank you for reading!

P.S. For those who haven't seen it, below is a picture of my tattoo, which honors Prince and represents the importance of music in my life. Wow, it's almost been a year since Prince died. It has gotten easier, though I nearly cried listening to "Diamonds and Pearls" the other day.