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27 July 2013

Eye No: Frank J. Morris III Talks 2 Beautiful Nights

  Who is the man with the wealth of knowledge on Beautiful Nights?
  Frank J. Morris III, of Southfield, Mich., has been a mainstay on the Facebook group since it started last fall. He gained popularity on the page by being able to quickly answer fan questions, identify photos and with the infamous Prince-related “Question of the Day” threads between him and Marcus Scott that were a staple on the page in the spring.
  K Nicola Dyes conducted an interview with Morris in May where he discussed how he became a Prince fan, how he acquired his information and why he doesn't want people to think he's a “know-it-all” :

  ?: Tell me about yourself.
  FM3: I was born and raised in Detroit. I have two kids, a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy. I work (giving patients) dialisys, but, music is my hobby.
  I play guitar, bass and keyboard. I've played guitar since I was 11 years old and (learned) the other instruments throughout my teenage years. I do a lot of solo gigs at coffeehouses and opem mic (nights). I was with a band called The Spiral Effect for a year and a half.
  ?: When did you discover Prince?
  FM3: Like everybody growing up in the '80s, (I liked) Prince and Michael Jackson. But, it was more Prince for me. I discovered him when I was three years old, after I saw "Purple Rain." I can't explain what had me so mesmerized. Maybe, it was the way he commanded the crowd (in the film).
  I had a Prince-themed birthday party when I was five years old. They (my parents) bought me a Prince birthday cake, a Prince poster and I got my first guitar. Once I got older and developed an interest in playing music, I leaned more toward Prince, because, he was an instrumentalist, whereas Jackson was more of an entertainer.
  What did it for me was when I read the credits for Prince's (self- titled) second album and (the liner notes) said he played everything on the album... I remember my mouth hit the floor. I was going around showing the liner notes to my family and said “Did you know Prince played all his own instruments?” They said “Yeah, we knew that.”
  That just made me respect him more as a musician; that (he) could be that disciplined to play all (his) own (instruments) on the record. It made me respect music more. As I got older, I found out that people like Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney had been doing it for years. But, I guess (there was) something about the way Prince did it. (He) melded all these different styles and genres (of music) together, but, made it his own. That just stuck out (for) me.
  For a while, all I listened to was Prince. I had a conversation with my dad, where he said, “You know, Prince is great, but, there are other people that you should get into as well.” It wasn't until my teenage years, I think I was 12 years old, that I discovered Jimi Hendrix. So, for a while, all listened to was Prince and Jimi Hendrix. Then, when the movie “What's Love Got to Do With It?” came out (in 1993), I was on this kick where all I listened to was Prince, Jimi Hendrix and Ike and Tina Turner (Laughs).
  I was (later) reading up on Prince's influences, then that's when I would go back and listen to the people that he listened to...He does so many different styles and genres of music. How can you not like rock music if Prince plays rock? How can you not like funk when he plays funk? I went back and got into Sly and The Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield and Miles Davis because of him. My appreciation for this music can all be traced back to me discovering Prince.
  ?: How did you get into Prince's unreleased music?
  FM3: I discovered the world of unreleased Prince music in 1997, when my mother bought me an issue of (the now defunct) Uptown Magazine. I had never heard of that magazine when she bought it for me. I looked on the last page, through the back issues and there was an issue called the “Bootleg Issue.” I was like “What is a bootleg?” There was stuff out there that I hadn't heard about?
  I didn't actually hear my first bootleg song until 1998 when I moved back to Tennessee to live with my father. When I went down there people already knew that I was a huge Prince fan. They would see me in the hallways and said “You need to go see Mr. Brown.” Garland Brown (then a teacher at Morris' high school) was a huge Prince fan and he (now) posts on Beautiful Nights. I went and found his classroom. It was immediately like kindred spirits, like "Oh my God, I never knew somebody as young as me was into Prince.” Of course, we asked each other “Do you have this? Have you heard that?” We were going toe to toe.
  He brought me a tape of some unreleased songs that I had never heard before. I just flipped out. From then on, I was on this treasure hunt, like “What else is out there?” It just became a fervor for me.
  It actually came at the right time, because, for me, personally, the late 1990s for Prince were kind of musically shaky. I was not really interested in the stuff he was doing. The experimental wave he rode from the 1980s into the 1990s had kind of died down. He didn't seem as inspired anymore. I found myself losing interest, but, when I found those bootlegs, they kept my interest. I felt that until he found his way back to being the great artist I knew he could be, this gave me an opportunity to see all these unreleased concerts and hear all these unreleased songs. It still kept me interested in him.
  I think he (Garland) said he knew a guy in Nashville. He used to go to Tower Records every other weekend and just check out what was there. I know they sold Uptown Magazine up there. I think the guy who worked at Tower Records was his connection (for unreleased music). A lot of places up here (in Detroit) didn't sell Uptown. You had to find it at these little mom and pop record stores. The place (that sold it) here was called The Record Collector and they ended up getting shut down for selling bootlegs. There was a raid and the whole thing was shut down. For a while, I didn't have an outlet to get my magazines. I had to order a subscription.
  ?: Do you remember the first unreleased Prince song you ever heard?
  FM3: I remember he (Garland) gave me a cassette -- this was back when folks were still listening to cassettes-- and if I'm not mistaken, I think the first song on there was “Rebirth of the Flesh.”
  I remember he had been telling me about that song for a while. I think he had to dig the tape up out of storage and every day I went to his class and said “Hey, did you find the tape yet?” and he would say “No, no, not yet.” He had hyped up “Rebirth of the Flesh” so high, that I could not wait to hear it.
   When I put the tape in and heard that first beat of the kick drum...I was just blown away and said “What the hell have I been missing?” Even some of the first 12-inch singles I heard, I heard from him. I had always known that there were 12-inch (versions) and remixes for “Pop Life,” “She's Always in My Hair” and (songs) like that. But, I had never heard them until he hooked me up with a tape with all that stuff on there.
  One day, I think it was during winter break (in Detroit), my mother had to go (to work) to pick up her check. Since me and my brother were out of school, we rode with her. I said “Can we stop at The Record Collector?” We went in there and that's when I saw my first Prince concert bootleg, which was the Detroit birthday show.
 The rest of my collection basically came from trading with people over the internet. Once I started building up a collection, I was able to parlay what I had for more stuff.This was during the early days of eBay, around 1998 and 1999. I was on eBay constantly trying to see what I could find and get my hands on. When I would get something, I would take it and trade with somebody. This was before Prince was coming down on Web sites for bootlegs. So, you could openly ask people “Hey, where can I find this bootleg? Does anybody have this and can you hook me up?” It was more open. As a result, you were able to build your collection.

  ?: How did you learn all the information that you know about Prince?
  FM3: I love reading. I will read up on and research anything I have an interest in all day long... It's not enough for me to know something on the surface. I need to know why this happened, what was going through your mind when you were doing it and stuff like that. I retained a lot of this knowledge over the years just by reading so much.
  (It) really goes back to that first issue of Uptown Magazine I received. (The magazine) had great attention to detail. When you were reading those magazines, it wasn't like you were reading a magazine in a supermarket and getting superficial information. The information they gave you (made) you feel like you were right there in the studio with Prince and his personnel while these things were happening. Uptown Magazine had a really good investigative team that really got down to the bottom of a lot of things.
  I also read the different forums on and, where people asked questions and somebody who knew about whatever the person was asking would would come in there and answer the question. A lot of information came from Prince himself, as far interviews he did, as well as interviews with band members over the years. Another valuable person was Mr. Brown. He knew a lot of stuff that I didn't know, because, he knew a lot of people in the industry who knew “stories behind the story.” He told me information that I had no access to and no knowledge about. I guess it boils down to me just paying attention and just making full use of a lot of the information that was out there.
  This can get annoying to some people where they would say  “Yeah, I remember when this album came out” or “The first Prince album came out in 1977, I remember that day.” I would say “Ummm, actually it was 1978.” So, after that, people just treated me like a stickler for details. It just came from reading and retaining a lot of that information.
  ?: What's your favorite Prince album?
  FM3: That's a hard question and I always cheat when I answer this, because, I always say Parade, Sign o' the Times and Lovesexy. It's hard for me to separate those three albums. It's almost like the trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. That's how I feel about those three albums.
 I say that, because, I feel those three albums represent a turning point in his artistry and career. As great as the albums before and the albums after were, those three albums represent him at the peak of his powers, where he was so in touch and in tune with his music that I can't separate them...Those three albums tell one whole story. You can't have one without the others.
  ?: What kind of story do you think those albums tell? What makes you feel like there is one continuous story?
  FM3: I'll start with Parade: That's when he really allowed Wendy and Lisa to have more of a role in the studio with him and I think the three of them together just created some the most amazing music. With the Parade album and that whole time period, I think that's when he allowed himself to kind of open up and allow other people's influence come into his music to get across whatever he was trying to get across.
  There was a lot of experimentation. There are things on that record that you didn't hear before in his music, period. At that time, it seemed like he was the only artist adventurous enough to do some of the things he was doing. I couldn't hear anybody (else) doing a song like “Do U Lie?” I couldn't hear anybody else doing “Christopher Tracy's Parade.” “Venus De Milo” is just gorgeous, almost brings you to tears. He was an amazing artist and musician before that, but, with the Parade album he tapped into something within himself that wasn't there before.
  He wasn't trying to go after another hit; he wasn't trying to do a “Purple Rain Part 2,” it wasn't anything like that. He got to the point where he wanted his audience to grow with him and he knew after Purple Rain, (some) people were only buying his music, because, he was the “flavor of the month.” He switched it up rather than continue in that vein. He showed people “Okay, I can do that, but, I can do this as well.” 
  That gave me tons of respect (for him), because, he alienated most of those people who bought Purple Rain. You knew then who his core audience was, because, those were the people who wanted to be challenged and who wanted see “Well, okay, you've done Purple Rain already, what else can you do?” He didn't hold back.
  I think that the creative wave he was on lasted through (recording) Sign o' the Times and Lovesexy. Lovesexy was an even more challenging record than Sign o' the Times, because, it was more experimental and it had elements of jazz fusion. I think those three records had things he hadn't done on any of his previous records.     
   On some of his records, like 1999, Purple Rain (and) Around the World in a Day, you can pick out certain songs: “When Doves Cry” and “Paisley Park” had similar elements. “Paisley Park” has no bass, the drum beats are kind of the same. I have said “America” almost sounds like “Baby, I'm a Star.” On each album, I picked out something and said “He's done this before.” With the albums Parade, Sign o' the Times and Lovesexy  he was almost in uncharted territory that he and his audience had never been in before. He made it work.
  ?: How many times have you seen Prince in concert?
  FM3: Last weekend (April 27) in Las Vegas marked my 18th concert. (The first time was) December 27, 1997 on the “Jam of the Year” Tour in Detroit.
    ?: Do you think that growing up in Detroit and your love for Prince's music are linked?
  FM3: I would say so. I always wished I was older growing up in the 1980s in Detroit when Prince was doing his thing.
  I don't know how it was in other cities, but, in Detroit, you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing Prince on some station. Like I said before, when other stations were playing “Kiss” and “When Doves Cry,” we were hearing “Automatic,” “Lady Cab Driver” and “Private Joy." I think it made the atmosphere for being a Prince fan just a little bit different. It seemed like even though he was from Minneapolis, he was “ours.”
  That's an interesting question, because, I think it would've been different if I had grown up in a different city and been a Prince fan. It's weird to think about how it could have gone. But, I think that me being in Detroit at that time does have a lot to do with it.
  There was a radio DJ here called The Eletrifying Mojo and he really helped break in not only Prince, but, other artists of the “Minneapolis Sound.” He wasn't just playing the hits, he was playing the album cuts as well, so, it gave people who were probably on the fence about Prince and some of these other artists a chance to say “Okay we know what the hits sound like, let's hear what else he sounds like.”
   It gave people a chance to hear who Prince really was outside of the hit maker. As a result, it made people go out and buy the albums. Once (listeners) found out he was a multi-instrumentalist (and) wrote all these songs for people, it gave (listeners) a deeper appreciation for him as an artist.
  One of the examples that I point to is when Prince was doing the “Dirty Mind” Tour (in 1981),.People were used to the cute R&B and Pop hit maker with songs like “Soft and Wet” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” DIrty Mind's shock value alienated a lot of people. As a result, on that tour, he was playing a lot of theaters and small clubs. But, because The Electrifying Mojo spent those two years breaking Prince in, by the time he got to Detroit he sold out Joe Louis Arena, which held about 20,000-30,000 people, whereas in other cities, he could barely sell out 2,000-or-3,000-seat theaters and clubs.
  Prince knows that and he's had a great love affair with Detroit, especially throughout the 1980s. Even after “Purple Rain” premiered in Detroit, I don't know how they did it in other cities, but, they gave out posters to the people here. Billy Sparks (who played the club owner in “Purple Rain”) is from Detroit. His two former backup dancers--who started off as bodyguards--- from Parade and Sign o' the Times, Wally Safford and Greg Brooks are from Detroit. A lot of people who were instrumental in his early career, like Quinton Perry, a concert promoter, whom people probably wouldn't if they heard the name, is from Detroit as well.  
  (Prince) used these Detroit connections and it helped break him in, that's why when he kicked off the “Purple Rain” Tour, he kicked it off here in Detroit with seven concerts, if I'm not mistaken. When he played Detroit for his birthday, he wasn't on an official tour, he would do these different concerts, popping up in different cities and they called it the “Hit and Run” Tour. He said on stage that night “I could have stayed in Uptown (a neighborhood in Minneapolis) and partied, but I wanted to come here and party with ya'll.” 
  That was his way of giving back to the city for all the love we had shown him over the years. He played the Cobo Arena, but, the ticket demand was so great that he had to play an extra show at a smaller place before (the birthday concert), just to meet the demand. I also think the “Sign o' the Times” movie premiered in Detroit before it played anywhere else.
?: What's your favorite live performance by Prince? Which one really strikes you every time you watch it?
  FM3: I would say the concert at First Avenue on August 3, 1983, when he first premeired five songs from Purple Rain. That's a good one for me. There's another smaller concert from October 25, 1984 at First Avenue that a lot of people don't know about. It's only about a half hour long, but, I love it to death. It shows him in a loose setting and he is just jamming and having fun. It was an unannounced concert and (the band) did an impromptu jam session.
   There's a concert from the “Parade” era in San Francisco in May 1986. I loved the “Parade" Tour as a whole, but, at this particular concert he was in great mood and he was joking around. He was doing abbreviated versions of a lot of songs (at other shows), but, at this show he was playing the full versions of songs. It showed The Revolution at the peak of their powers. He had added the horn section and it showed what they could do. On that tour, Bobby Z. didn't rely on the drum machine, he was actually playing, so, you got to see his chops as a drummer. It was the beginning of Prince coming into that experimental phase of his career and it really worked out well on the “Parade” Tour.
  There was a “Lovesexy” aftershow from 1988 in New York City. A “Sign o' the Times” Tour warmup show from 1987. In some of the later years there was the “One Nite Alone” Tour in Chicago, that's one of my all-time favorite Prince concerts, period. The “Musicology” Tour in San Jose in 2004. One of the warmup shows he did for the “Musicology” Tour at a place called Club Black is one of his all-time greatest performances. The list could go on and on.

  ?: How did you end up being the person with the answers to everyone's questions on Beautiful Nights?
  FM3: I think it started when people would post things: they might post a picture and I might chime that the picture came from this year or this era. Next thing you know, I would sign on to Facebook and I would have these alerts where someone tagged me and said “Hey, Frank. I have a question for you” or people would debating about something and said “Let's have Frank settle it.”
  The first time I saw that, it kind of threw me for a loop. I don't know anything more than anyone else. I just do a lot of reading.   The same information I can get my hands on is out there for everyone. To see people leaning on me and depending on me and saying “Hey, let's ask Frank”  trips me out sometimes.
  Marcus Scott will tell you, he came to some Prince parties here in Detroit and they had trivia contests. If you win the trivia contests you win a prize. They banned me from playing a few times and said I know too much. They said “If anything, (I) could help (them) come up with questions that will stump people.”
  ?: Is there anything you don't know about Prince or associated artists?
  FM3: As much as I know about Prince, I don't know everything (emphasis added). If anybody were to ask me about lyrics (to songs) in the NPG Music Club era in 2000 and 2001, I would be stumped. I didn't really care too much for a lot of that stuff. Somebody has posted lyrics to (a song) and I said “Wait a minute, which song is that?” Then I would look it up and find out that it's a song I really didn't care for.
  I got into Prince, but, I didn't really do that with the associated artists. I would say that the things I know about them is more on the surface. I couldn't tell you when Morris Day's birthday is. Little stuff like that would trip me up. The way I can get deep on stuff about Prince, I can't do that with the associated artists.
  Going back to Prince, I don't really know personal stuff about him.   Someone was joking the other day and they posted a picture of Prince. They said “His skin is so clear, I wonder how he gets it so clear?” Someone said “Well, ask Frank!” I don't know stuff like that. They were kind of being smart about it. When people say stuff like that, I feel they're kind of coming for me. 
  That's why I make it known that I'm not the one going around telling people that I know everything about Prince, like I'm a walking Prince encyclopedia. I never said that. It's what people put on me. Even when Scott said you wanted to interview me, I said “Why? Nobody cares about me!” He said “Your fans want to know.” I said “Fans? What fans?”
  ?: How did the “Question of the Day” feature between you and Scott on Beautiful Nights get started?
  FM3: It started when we got into this big debate about whether there was a colorized version of “Under the Cherry Moon.” There isn't, as much as fans want to believe there is. Some people said “No, there is one and I've seen color pictures from the movie.” I said “Sorry to burst your bubble, but, there's not.” It became a debate on that one little topic.
  I woke up the next morning and there was a question of the day. So, I answered that one. Then the day after that there was another one. And another one. I said “Wait a minute now!” At first, I thought they were thinking “This dude thinks he knows everything, let's see what we can trip him up on.” Like I tell people, I don't know everything, but, I know what I know. I'm glad it slowed down. I haven't gotten one in a week or so.
  I would dread seeing that in the morning and said “Oh my God. Now I have to come up with these longs drawn-out answers. That's why on one or two of them I said “Feel free to help me out, because, I'm so busy today, I'm not going to be able to sit here and come up with shit.”
  One of the questions was “Name all the people Prince has dated.” I named all the ones I knew about, but, people said “What about Sherilynn Fenn?” I said “Well, okay, dang. You put me up on something I didn't know.” That shows I don't know everything. Another one was “Name the set list from every tour he's ever done.” I went and did the old copy and paste. People were thinking “Oh, he went and typed that whole thing.” I'm like “Hell no.” I added little notes at the end with stuff I did know. But, did they think I was about to sit there and type all of that out. Please!
  ?: Is there anything you would to add for your fans on Beautiful Nights?
  FM3: I'm a cool person. I'm a humble person. I don't want people to think that I'm a know it all, that I know more than them or I'm up on this high horse and things like that.
  There are clearly things I don't know, that's why I sometimes lean on the Beautiful Nights people to help me out. The whole Beautiful Nights fan group is cool, because, we can all learn a lot from each other. I'm learning stuff from people every day and people are learning from me. As we continue to grow as a group we will have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips.

Stay Beautiful, Kristi


All photos courtesy of Frank J. Morris III.


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06 July 2013

It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night: Zina Escovedo To Host Party in Oakland


  Zina Escovedo wants to give Prince fans a night to remember.
  Escovedo, of E Music Party (, will host “It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night,” an event featuring the music and videos of Prince and associated artists, at 8 p.m., July 14, Club Era, 19 Grand Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance. If there are tickets remaining, they will be sold at the door for $25. This is an 21-and-over event.
  She said that the bonuses for guests who already purchased VIP tickets will be a surprise. As of this writing, VIP tickets are sold out.
  DJ Alex Mejia will spin the night's music and Marcus Scott, of Beautiful Nights, will be in attendance. Johnny Viramontes, of Boogie Lights Entertainment will provide special lighting and there will also be surprise performances. Memorabilia from several former members of Prince's band will be on display throughout the night.
  “I have decided to try to bring people a party where they (can) hopefully experience what it felt like to 'feel' Prince's music...” she said. “So, they can get a taste of what it was like.”
  Escovedo comes from a family of renowned musicians: her father Pete Escovedo, leads the band Azteca and worked with artists such as Carlos Santana, Tito Puente and Herbie Hancock; her oldest brother, Peter Michael Escovedo, was the musical director for "The Wayne Brady Show," and has worked with Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie; her brother, Juan Escovedo, heads his own orchestra and has worked with Earth, Wind & Fire, Barry White and Hall and Oates  and her sister, Sheila E., collaborated with Prince as a solo artist and later as a member of his band, has worked with George Duke, Ringo Starr and Beyonce, led her own band, C.O.E.D., and is still an in-demand session player. They also all perform together as The E Family Orchestra.
  Escovedo hinted that her event could possibly turn into an after party for her father who will be celebrating his 78th birthday (on July 13) by playing a series of concerts, July 12-14 at Yoshi's in Oakland. She said she chose that weekend to have the party, because, her entire family will be in town. She added that this could be the type of bash people talk about for the rest of the year.
  “The Escovedos can party!” she said.
ZIna and Pete Escovedo

  This will be the first event Escovedo will host through her new business venture, E Music Party. She said she always wanted to have her own company and looks forward to bringing people of different backgrounds together through music.
  The idea for the party was hatched after she ran into Mejia at a bank about four months ago and they struck up a conversation about having a Prince-themed party. During the course of that discussion the two decided to collaborate on the event. They had several meetings, because, she is “particular about details” and wanted to make sure everything was just right before moving forward. She later brought in Viramontes to assist in further enhancing the party's atmosphere with his lighting and contacted artists associated with Prince to see who would be willing to share tokens from their time with The Purple One, she said.
  Escovedo connected with Scott after Maya and Nandy McClean, better known as The Twinz,  mutual friends of the two, recommended she call him. The Twinz told her Scott was very down to earth and she did not think twice about getting in touch with him.
  “That boy is crazy!” she said. “I can't wait to meet him.”
  Escovedo said that she although her entire family relocated to Southern California, she never wanted to have the party anywhere but Oakland, her hometown, because, she appreciated all the love and loyalty her family received from their fans in the Bay Area.
  Fans may remember her being featured in the music video for Sheila E.'s single, “The Glamorous Life,” (1984) and she was mentioned in the song “Yellow" from Romance 1600 (1985). She has also been a mainstay at many of her family's shows assisting them in any way she can, including selling merchandise at their concerts. 
  Most of her life, she was usually in the background--which was never a bad thing-- and she  observed and came into contact with all kinds of musicians, she said.
  She added that she thought every kid lived like that.

  “It was very normal for me, so I didn't think much of it,” she said. “But, as I got older I started to realize how special (my) life was and what a blessing God had given me. It should not be taken for granted.”
  When she got older she said she would get correspondence from fans who were excited to realize that she was part of the Escovedo dynasty-- with some people even wondering why she had not told them that she was Sheila E.'s sister-- but, to her, they were always family members first, not stars. But, now she wants to share what she realized was a unique experience with as many people as possible.
  She said any future parties she hosts may or may not be Prince related--  audience demand will determine what themes her soirees will have and that she wants to plan events based on what type of emotional experience people wish to have during the course of a given night.
  Escovedo said that she looks forward to meeting all the people she has connected with through social media since announcing "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night" and had a personal message for everyone planning to attend:
  “Have fun, expect love (and) experience this special night in all that it has to bring,” she said. “Bring your dancing shoes and party like it's 1999!”

Tickets can be purchased on the E Music Party Web site.

Check out the “It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” Facebook event page here.

For more information on Pete Escovedo's birthday shows, visit

Stay beautiful, Kristi


All Photos courtesy of Zina Escovedo.


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03 July 2013

My Love is Forever (Part IV): Donnie Stearns

 “Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s” is celebrating 35 years since the release of Prince's first studio album “For You,” with a series where we interview readers who have been fans since the beginning.
  It all began when Warner Brothers Records released “For You,” on April 7, 1978, with the album's first single, “Soft and Wet” being released approximately two months later.
  Donnie Stearns, of Somerset, Kentucky agreed to a telephone interview with “Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s” in February, where he discussed his favorite Prince lyric, why he thinks the artist is misunderstood and his near meeting with The Purple One:

  “He always gives you something unexpected in each era of his music. You do more than just listen with your ears: you listen through your heart; your mind; your soul.”

  ?: Tell me a bit about yourself.
  DS: I live in Somerset, Kentucky, about 75 miles from Lexington. I grew up on a farm in Kentucky. My father was a minister and I had eight brothers and sisters.
  ?: Do you remember you the first time you saw Prince or heard his music?
DS: The first time I heard Prince, my friend had just gotten a new album (Prince's first album “For You”) and he wanted me to listen to it. It was captivating; it demanded your attention. I (later) bought the album when I went home. (Prince's) voice and (his) lyrics, were something different that set (him) apart from everybody else. It's not really something I can explain. You just couldn't wait to hear what the next song was going to (sound) like.

For You Album Cover

  ?: How many times have you seen Prince in concert? When was the first time? The last time?
  DS: The first time was in 1981. The last time-- I believe it was the same year that Diamonds and Pearls came out--was in Lexington, Kentucky. I know I've seen him (in concert) more than 15 times, (but), I 'm going say it's been about 20 times. You ain't seen nothing until you've seen Prince in concert.
  ?: What's your favorite Prince album and song? Your least favorite?
  DS: I've really liked all of them... But, if I had to pick one: Sign o' the Times. My least favorite album would probably be Planet Earth.
  I would say my favorite song is “Purple Rain,” I requested that it be played at my funeral. (The song's lyrics) are what I would say to my family when I am gone. I really don't have a least favorite song when it comes to Prince, but, if I did, it would probably be “Baby” from his very first album. That's a very difficult question.
?: What's your favorite Prince lyric?
  DS: It comes from the song “Free,” (from the 1999 album) let me think how it goes: “Be glad that you are free, there's are many a man who's not.” That whole song means a lot to me and really brings me down to earth. You get stuck on yourself, but, there are other people in the world besides you and there are people who aren't free.
  (That song is) never outdated.
  ?: Have you ever met Prince or gotten close to him?
  DS: I always thought if I got close enough to him I would just shake his hand. I went to see him in concert the year Diamonds and Pearls came out (1991). (After the concert) I walked in the back of the arena and he was coming out. I was walking toward him and I was going to shake his hand. But, they (Prince's security guards) surrounded him. I looked at him and he just nodded at me. We kind of made of eye contact, he nodded and I nodded. He grinned and I grinned.
  ?: Who is your favorite associated artist?
  DS: I like Sheila E., Wendy and Lisa, Cat—but, I would lean toward Wendy and Lisa.
  ?: Did the fact that Prince was often considered “controversial” have any appeal for you?
  DS: I think Prince gets a bad rap. A lot of people don't understand him. He's under a microscope. The critics are watching him and there are millions of people watching. He stands on what he believes in. He doesn't care about what the critics and the rest of the people say (about him).
  ?: How has being a Prince fan influenced your life?
  DS: The example of his life taught me not to worry about what other people think and to be who I am. If (people) don't like me, it's their problem, not mine. (Prince) stands on what he believes in. He has more pressure on him than I'll ever have. He gets criticized for this and that, but, (people) don't know his inner workings. Sometimes, when I'm down, his music can lift me up.

1999 Album Cover

  ?: How do your friends and family feel about you being such an avid fan?
  DS: Well, to be honest, it's actually made them Prince fans. At first they could take it or leave it. But, after a while they would get excited as I got. They are (fans) now, but, they weren't in the beginning.
  ?: Why do you think you've been a fan for the last 35 years?
  DS: It's hard to put into words, but, I'll do the best I can. He always gives you something unexpected in each era of his music. You do more than just listen with your ears: you listen through your heart; your mind; your soul. It (his music) just touches you in a way that other people's music can't. His music just makes you feel good about yourself.
  ?: Has Prince done things that you, as a fan, did not understand?
  D.S.: I think Prince had people around him that weren't looking out for him. Not all of them, but, some of them.
  One thing I also didn't understand was why Prince made Troy Gua (a Seattle-based artist) stop making the little guy (Le Petit Prince). (Gua) was bringing a whole new generation of fans to Prince. I know a few people that saw Le Petit Prince and it made them go out and buy Prince CDs. (They) didn't know his music before.
  ?: What are you looking forward to as a fan this year?
  D.S.: I'd like to see a new CD come out. I'd like to see more concerts, a worldwide tour. I'd like to see him another movie. I really would.
  ?: What would you say to fans who have recently discovered Prince?
  DS: I'd say, go back to the beginning and listen to his music all the way down to really understand him. If not, it's like you're walking in on the middle of the movie and you don't really know what's taking place. Go back to the start if you want to be a Prince fan for life—and watch his movies, he has some great movies.
  Also, don't believe everything you hear about Prince, because, a lot it isn't true. Just listen to his music and don't believe anything about him unless it comes out of his mouth.
  There has never been another like Prince and there will never be. He is a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

Stay beautiful, Kristi


Lead photo courtesy of Donnie Stearns.


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