In 1984 my roommate Trish (the Dish) and I walked about a mile from our dorm room to the Grand Theatre in downtown Milwaukee to see the movie Purple Rain.
We stood in a raucous line, sat through a compelling movie, and rose in unison with the rest of the theatre goers to sing.
“Purple Rain, Purple Rain.”
I’ll never forget.
We were just two quiet college sophomores, but we felt part of something extraordinary that night. We didn’t know anyone else in that theatre, but we felt like we belonged.
Prince made us feel much cooler than we were.
On February 4th, 2007 my father and I attended the wettest Super Bowl in history. As a 13-year old Packer Backer who refused to root for the Bears, I became a bandwagon Colts fan for the day, much to my Chicago born father’s dismay. Despite the many unforgettable moments in the game like Devin Hester’s TD kick return, Peyton Manning’s first ring, and Tony Dungy making history as the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl, my most vivid memories come from the halftime show.
I must admit, while I was extremely excited to attend Super Bowl XLI, I was less than thrilled to learn the halftime show would be performed by an artist with a symbol for a name. The previous three halftime performances showcased the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and Janet Jackson’s nipple… Middle school Vinnie had yet to experience The Purple One! And experience he did.
“Dearly beloved, we gathered here today to get through this thing called life.”
His opening words resonated with the stadium full of soaked fans disappointed by a lackluster first half. Over the course of a 12 minute set, Prince brought more electricity to the Sun Life Stadium than the storm that had surrounded it all day. The pinnacle moment was, of course, singing Purple Rain in the rain as the artist’s guitar solo screamed out to the heavens. The gods of music cried as their Prince took Miami by storm and their tears were lit purple by the stadium lights.
I sang along to a Prince song for the first time that night and remember feeling goosebumps as I connected with 75,000 people. Five years later the goosebumps returned as I sang When Doves Cry on stage with my collegiate a cappella group Fundamentally Sound.
Today, I feel the goosebumps again remembering the talent of a man whose music could define an entire city but was ultimately just trying to help us get through this thing called life .