September 9

The Morning Prince Died

I’ll never forget the morning of April 21st, 2016. I was on a regular online video conference call with my boss, the CEO of Dale Carnegie Training of Central Texas. In my role as Vice President of Marketing, I was habitually busy and regularly providing updates to our team regarding the details and results of our various online marketing campaigns. It’s funny how staying busy helps us not really address our underlying thoughts and feelings. The truth of the matter is that I wasn’t truly where I wanted to be in my life and career, but you’d never know it with the usual enthusiasm and passion with which I attacked everything I was entrusted to deliver.

As my boss nodded his head in kind acknowledgment of all my hard work, a CNN news alert flashed across my computer screen. It was three of the most unexpected and devastating words I had ever heard.

“PRINCE IS DEAD.”

My boss couldn’t quite understand why I suddenly stopped talking and bowed my head. My screen wasn’t shared and he therefore hadn’t seen the news flash. When I raised my head slowly and looked at him with pain and anguish, he certainly must have been even further confused upon seeing the tears that were now streaming down my face.

“Prince is Dead,” I said, more like a whisper than audible words.

He was silent. An awkward moment later, he asked me how I knew Prince and what he meant to me. Our CEO is one of the most emotionally intelligent people I’ve ever met, and his concern for me was obvious and sincere. His question gave me permission to essentially table our meeting and launch into a little history of what Prince had meant to me in my life. As I explained what Prince meant to me, I also realized for the first time in a long while, that my yearning to be a full-time musician had never really died, and now more than ever, it was calling me to address it.

“The funny thing,” I explained, “is that from 1987, way before I got into the corporate world, I lived in Minneapolis for some 25 years and played music with many of the same people that worked with Prince. In short, I explained that Prince was more than a rock star to me. He was ‘The Purple One‘, whose talent and accomplishments I respected and adored without reservation. I loved him like a big brother!”

I explained to my boss that Prince had been the number one reason I got into music, moved to the United States, and eventually became the songwriter and producer I am today. I told him about how my first band in Minneapolis featured a guitar player named Mike Scott, who eventually got hired to play in Prince’s band, ‘THE NEW POWER GENERATION’. I explained how Brown Mark, the bass player from Prince’s first band, ‘THE REVOLUTION’, had been my first music producer, working with me to create songs and music industry demos in his massive home studio. I will always remember how working late into the night at Mark’s studio, Prince would call, and I would always hold onto the hope that someday I’d meet him at Mark’s house. I also explained to my boss how I counted Dez Dickerson, Prince’s first guitar player, as a mentor, and that I eventually produced and wrote 6 songs for Alexander O’neal, who was Prince’s first pick to be the lead singer of his massively successful side-group, ‘THE TIME’.

So, to say Prince was a huge part of my musical life in the ’90s would be putting it mildly. I wrapped up my walk down memory lane by showing my boss ‘Lovers Again’, the UK Top 40 / Billboard Top 50 album of songs I wrote, cowrote, and co-produced for the legendary Alexander O’neal, former lead singer of ‘THE TIME’, and one of the pioneers of the Minneapolis sound.

My boss had always commented about his appreciation of my multiple talents and past experiences, but this time, I watched his eyes grow wild with wonder as he said out loud, trying to lighten up the air a bit: “Wow! You are truly multi-talented! I didn’t know you were that deeply involved with music! Now you’re in corporate training! What don’t you know how to do?”

After that conversation ended, I remember calling everyone I knew in Minneapolis and sharing tears, stories and plans for the future. Like many of my friends, the day Prince died was a day to reflect and rededicate ourselves to our number one passion: music. I remember calling Tony Christian, a former member of another of Prince’s side-groups—’MAZARATI’—and talking about the days when we had our own group together. We were all followers and students of Prince back then, and it showed in everything we did.

I think something strange happens when we realize that our time on this planet is temporary. We start to focus like a laser on what our core purpose is, and whether we have made use of the gifts we were given. On that day, in the back of my mind, a decision had silently been made. While I loved corporate training, I loved music even more, and I knew I had to finally return to my musical calling. Although I had no clue how I’d make the transition, one thing was clear: the day Prince died, was the day my music was reborn.

The answer came to me a few weeks later. I decided to leave my job, and take all of my creative achievements to date, my firm, (Practicee), the several books I’d written, and my passion for teaching and implementing marketing, and roll them all into one effort centered around my main calling: music.

I quickly dusted off my home recording studio and completed a song I wrote, called ‘WHY THEY CRY’, which deals with the idea that tomorrow is not promised to any of us … so we might as well follow our purpose, and be thankful…for today.

 

If you like the track you might also consider checking out ‘I GOT HAPPY’. It’s my latest album and it’s full of deep, positive, and motivational tunes that I’d like to think would make the ‘Purple One’ proud. 🙂

Talk soon,

Dr. Pelè

Dr. Pelè

About the author

Dr. Pelè is a bestselling author, musician, and Founder of VelocityJam™, where members leverage a community of practice, feedback, and detailed post analytics to turn their authentic social media content into high-value clients.