Prince A Pop Culture Icon

Prince A Pop Culture Icon

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Julien's Auctions.

After making music for nearly 30 years Prince stepped up to the microphone to accept the 2007 NAACP Image award for Outstanding Male Artist at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

He stood quietly on stage with a slight smile on his face waiting for the applause to end at the award ceremony.  If the audience was any indicator, the 48-year-old, 5’2” musical prodigy’s sound was as relevant as ever.

I would just challenge the phone companies and the new digital providers to allow us—-to steward the new jazz renaissance, hip-hop, soul (into) the 21st century rather than the accountants and the lawyers who’ve ruined the music industry
— Prince

Dressed in an androgynous, high-collared, black-and-white, Asia inspired outfit, Prince was an artist who defied expectations in his dress as well as in his music.  A mix of funk, rock and soul, it’s impossible to pigeonhole the singer, songwriter, musician and actor.  With his cross-genre appeal Prince produced ten platinum albums and thirty “Top 40” singles in his career.

Prince raised his hands to quiet the audience and began to talk.  He spoke to the power of music and requested those in the business side of the music industry let artists control the direction of their music in the 21st. century.

“I would just challenge the phone companies and the new digital providers to allow us---to steward the new jazz renaissance, hip-hop, soul (into) the 21st century rather than the accountants and the lawyers who’ve ruined the music industry,” he said.

No surprise.  Prince was an artist who controlled his own work from the beginning.  When he ran into roadblocks with record companies he went out on his own searching for alternative ways to reach his audience. Prince has been compared to Jackie Wilson and James Brown. But his style was uniquely his own.

“I listened to all kinds of music when I was young,” he said.  “…I always said that one day I would play all kinds of music and not be judged for the color of my skin but the quality of my work, and hopefully I will continue.”     

Prince came up with a film project titled “Purple Rain” in the ‘80s.  The rags-to-riches story closely resembled his own life and he starred in the movie as “The Kid.”  Prince also wrote all the pop-orientated songs on the soundtrack, some with the help of “The Revolution” band members.  When the film was released in the summer of 1984 “Purple Rain” garnered $70 million in ticket sales. 

The “Purple Rain” film and album turned Prince into a pop culture legend.  Called the best album in rock history, the title song was a signature one for Prince.  He performed it at almost every concert. 

The album sold over 13 million copies and was number one on the charts for 24 weeks.   Prince also earned an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2004.

The seven-time Grammy winner never stopped producing music including later albums like Diamonds and Pearls, The Gold Experience and Musicology. He died on April 21, 2016, from an accidental drug overdose.

On June 24 & 25 a selection of Prince Memorabilia went on the block at Julien's Auctions. Prince’s handwritten lyrics for the song “Purple Rain;” two pages; sold for $67,650. 

With regard to collecting rock memorabilia, the most valuable items will be those closely associated with the career of an artist.  Documents that relate directly to that artist’s career will generally have more value than personal documents.  Handwritten lyrics are some of the most desirable items.

Prince

Cross Pendant and Chain; worn by Prince and seen in photographs; 29 inches long; $1,250.

Handwritten Lyrics; for “Let’s Go Crazy;” comes from notebook written by Prince at the time of recording the “Purple Rain” soundtrack; first song in film and on album;  10 ½ inches by 8 inches;  $15,360.  

Love Symbol Guitar; electric; accompanied by a letter of authenticity; circa 1996-97; $25,000.  

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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