The Fading of a Purple Haze: Prince leaves the world through death, but the music will last forever

Even for me, I was a little shocked that Prince had died.  It wasn’t the loss of a person that I considered to be something scratching the surface of a oveman, but the last great loss of a great talent from the 80s. I feel worse for the modern kids who don’t know what it’s like to have James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince all alive and making music for their society all on stage together.  With the modern record industry comparatively crushed relative to that unique period in 1983, shown below, the amount of raw talent that was enjoyed by the 80s may not be seen again for a long time.  For modern race baiters who declare that America is a racist nation, they obviously don’t know much about our history.  I am proud to say I live in a culture that produced minds like Prince, Michael Jackson and James Brown.  Prince for all his small stature of 5’ 2” made the best of it and walked around like he was 9’2”.  I always thought of him as a remarkable person and he had an impact on me that lasted.

I also thought he was a little weird—and for whatever reason, we accept culturally people who are extremely different if they are musicians.  It’s a very strange thing to watch people who pick on others for being different turn right around and wear the shirt of a famous musician that behaves in very eccentric ways.  Prince was certainly one of those people. Prince was about nine years older than I was, so as he was making his most famous music, the album “Purple Rain,” I was traveling all over the country as an Explorer in the High Adventure Boy Scout Post, 962 ran by one of my arch rival school teachers from the 7th grade.  Me and that woman hated each other, but she was access to adventure so I put up with her and spent a lot of my time from 14 to 16 years of age doing just about everything human beings could do regarding adventure, rappelling, backpacking, spelunking, and competing against others in yearly competitions at Camp Frielander in Loveland, Ohio.  It was the only thing that could have held my interest at that particular time and I thrived in that environment.  In a lot of ways Prince and I came to age at the same time in very different ways.  Both of us learned to think bigger than just being human which a lot of Prince’s songs reflected.

I was never particularly compelled by the religious leanings of Prince, but I did enjoy his otherworldly approach to life—the eternal aspect, and he seemed to accompany me everywhere during those Explorer days.  Explorer Posts are divisions of the Boy Scouts of America, but they are co-ed activities so there were always girls around—especially on the competition campouts where explorers from all over the southern Ohio region showed up to fight it out at Camp Frielander each August.  Most of the competition was fire department Explorer Posts and those from various police divisions—where young people were basically in apprenticeships for those careers.  My Explorer Post was designed to make global adventurers, and the skills I learned there I never forgot.  I always had extreme confidence and all that came to excessive fruition during this period of my life—and my antics seemed to always occur next to a Prince soundtrack.  No matter where I was, or what I was doing, Prince was on the radio or on somebody’s private boom box.  And when it came to confidence and multitasking, I looked at Prince and took some young direction.  My introduction to the Explorer Post world came at Camp Frielander where on my very first night I blew up our campfire on purpose with a homemade bomb and picked a fight with a rival Explorer Post over a girl who me and the other males all wanted.  From winning several of the events and gaining everyone’s instant attention, like Prince I had splashed onto the stage of adventure boldly.  Within a year I was giving speeches in front of massive crowds at GE Aviation in Evendale and running around the University of Cincinnati like I owned the place and I was still six to seven years younger than all the kids attending.  From Prince I learned to step in front of an audience and take charge.  With him being so short and strange, I used to watch how he handled things and I incorporated many of his social tactics to my own escapades. So I can say that Prince greatly improved my life during a key time.

Within a few years I was elected president of the Dan Beard Council for the entire Tri-State region and I eventually secured the girl that we all wanted whom I had met that first night at Camp Frielander.  But by then I had outgrown her and I had rapidly evolved beyond many of the people who were with me that first night of that summer competition.  Literally the day that I was elected, which occurred at General Electric in front of a packed house I had met another girl that I liked a lot more so I was looking for a way to get rid of the other one and her father was one of the guiding administrators for the entire Dan Beard Council in the eastern part of the country.  Later that night when I was supposed to be in fight against a bunch of kids at my school, one of them ended up dead and of course I was the key suspect—everyone in the Explorer Post community abandoned me, including all my girl friends—and Prince’s constant music was the only thing that made sense to me during that period.  It was a surreal feeling to listen to the song, “When Doves Cry” as police cars all over Cincinnati went looking for me to question me for murder.  In 24 hours I went from the top of the world to just a few steps from jail and it was very strange.  But at no time was I afraid, or did I weep for my losses.  I simply recaptured myself quickly and got back to what I did best and within a few weeks, had recovered completely and was back to my usual persuasions.

Prince was so boldly creative that he gave to my mind, which desired unlimited energy, a glance into the eternal—and that carried me to places that would soon become self-sustainable.  I outgrew Prince by the end of the 90s largely due to the fact that I did more before I was ever 19 than some people did in their entire lives. By the time that Prince did a song for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film, I had outgrown him—but I continued to always admire the eccentric musician.  Prince was wildly imaginative and magnificently talented and I learned a lot from him at a key time in my life—and it was clear when he died that future generations wouldn’t have the same opportunity—and for me that was the saddest aspect of the mysterious death at Prince’s Paisley Park home and studio in Minnesota.  Prince at 57 didn’t eat meat, and was pretty religious for a rock star—and he had such a tiny little body.  So diseases took a toll and if he took some drugs to alleviate the pain, he likely put himself under too much strain—and he left his body to join the focus of his otherworldly pursuits which had been a big part of his music for so long.  It was that otherworldly appeal which I always enjoyed and drew from for myself. So it didn’t surprise me that his soul just decided to leave his body one day as the body struggled under pressures only the living understand.  Prince seemed indifferent to life and death, so he obviously didn’t have much fight in him to struggle through such tribulation.  But it’s always a shock to see that someone as full of life as Prince had left the world of the living—because it seems counter to his core personality.

Death is a journey of its own, and Prince took it closing a chapter on earth that future generations will only hear about.  I learned a lot from Prince, and I am happy to say that his overman appeal to me is something I quickly mastered myself—and actually exceeded by the time I was 30 years old and had suffered through many more tragedies on the same scale as that day I was elected onto the Dan Beard Council and lost it all just a few hours later. Prince seemed at that time to be the sage from the top of a mountain who had all the answers, but it wasn’t long before I was looking down on his mountain and thinking how small he really was.  That’s not Prince’s fault, as an artist, all he did was present something to contemplate through his music—it was up to us to bring meaning to it—and I did—living the life of a boundless adventurer who didn’t know any limits.  I probably achieved more earlier because of Prince than I would have without him.  Then suddenly he was gone as quickly as he came, like a purple haze and a distant memory that will soon be forgotten like a purple rain once the sun comes back out and distracts us from the day.  Such is life—but for me, I will never forget.  He was certainly one of the best and our society won’t produce another like him likely for hundreds of years—if ever.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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