As the world marks the first anniversary of his death, Martin Cooper tips his hat to the much-missed pop-rock genius, Prince.
Martin Cooper remembers one of funk-rock’s greatest innovators, the legendary Prince.
In April 2016 the music world lost the legend that was Prince. But he left a catalogue of some of the most inventive, era-defining songs, in particular his most successful ’80s period. Prince could move from Hendrix-style histrionics one minute, to perfect pop and funk the next, and he always had a killer melodic sensibility to his writing and arranging. Such is his legacy that immediately after his death he sold over four million copies of his albums and singles between April 21 and 28.
Prince signed with Warner Bros records in 1978 at the age of 18 and released his debut album For You the same year. Over the next few years he continued to release albums at regular intervals, gaining increased critical acclaim and commercial popularity along the way – his 1982 album, 1999, still features many classic pop songs that are played to this day. He managed to flawlessly blend pop, R&B and rock during his career and his songs were sassy and inventive throughout. Some of the biggest albums of Prince’s career featured his backing band The Revolution, which included Wendy Melvoin on guitar, Lisa Coleman on keyboards and Bobby Z on drums. After The Revolution disbanded Prince continued to release solo albums before new ensemble the New Power Generation emerged in the ‘90s. In 1993 he controversially changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol due to a contractual dispute with Warner Bros - not entirely out of character as Prince’s genius was touched by an element of eccentricity during his career.
In 2007 he played an incredible 21-night residency at London’s O2 arena, and continued to tour until his death. Prince died of a Fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park estate in April 2016. There’s a strong rumour that he has left behind several albums ‘worth of yet-to-be released material. Tributes poured in from around the world at the news of his passing, including Bruce Springsteen who performed a memorable show-opening version of Purple Rain at his next gig.
Our track is based on Prince’s pop-rock sound of the mid ‘80s. These tunes featured danceable beats alongside heavily overdriven chords and flashy solos. It’s in the key of G major (G-A-B-C-D-E-F#), but includes chords outside of the key and solos built on G
(G-Bb-C-D-F) Minor Pentatonic and G Dorian (G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F),
so there’s plenty of colour to the melodies and harmonies. There’s a harmoniser set an octave below where the melody is played on the rhythm guitar fill near the beginning and on the solo, but the actual notes played were as per the notation.
THERE’S A STRONG RUMOUR THAT PRINCE LEFT BEHIND SEVERAL ALBUMS’ WORTH OF UNRELEASED MATERIAL
Prince playing a Floyd-equipped Fender Strat