Prince Made It Personal – RIP

prince1Reeling with shock and devastation having just learned of Prince’s as-yet inexplicable death at only 57, I offer this tribute to show just how much he meant to the lives of those who loved him for the musical and spiritual joy he gave us for almost 40 years.

It is an except from the About the Author section of my book, Everything Is on the One: The First Guide of Funk. I had been preparing the book to be published on this site this year but did not want to wait with this segment given the most unfortunate circumstances.

Rest in peace, Prince. Words cannot express your impact on our lives. I am eternally grateful for being able to live during your glorious reign.

What’s an AOL Bill?

After many years spinning his wheels with college and trying to break out in the entertainment industry, Scott was playing catch-up with real life. Within two years of getting into b-b publishing, he was married; three years later he bought his first house; two years later he became a father; and a year after that he picked up stakes and left a lifetime in Southern California for the Southern charm of the Charlotte, N.C., suburbs. It should come as little surprise at this point to learn music played a prominent role in how these events unfolded.

In a twist of fate, Scott met his wife, Jill, on the Internet in an America Online chatroom called Paisley Park that served as a communication vehicle for Prince fans. Scott had followed the Minneapolis wunderkind since his 1978 debut and championed him long before the masses also discovered he was among the great musical geniuses of all time. Six years his junior, like most fans Jill had been swept off her feet by Prince during the 1984 “Purple Rain” phenomenon. Online, Scott’s handle was, naturally, Dr. GX and Jill’s was Aura6, inspired by a character in Prince’s “Graffiti Bridge” movie. Neither one of them were looking to hook up as both were in long-term relationships, and it was a fluke that chatroom was there at all that evening because it was typically a once-a-week occurrence on a different night of the week. That’s why upon almost simultaneously entering Paisley Park, the two found themselves alone in what on its usual night was a packed chatroom.

This was 1994 when the Internet was still either brand new or an unknown mystery for most folks, and so while Scott had been online for a few months and was familiar with the Paisley Park chatroom, it was Jill’s first time ever on the World Wide Web. “Hello,” she typed, “what is this?” “It’s a chatroom for Prince, but usually on a different night,” he explained. The rest is history. By chance, Scott had struck up what would snowball and blossom into the romance of a lifetime with a girl 3,000 miles away in Long Island, N.Y. It was exciting but it wasn’t cheap. At a time when AOL charged per hour and before cellphones, the pair rang up thousands of dollars in courtship communications. Six months later, having never been east of Arizona, Scott flew to New York and brought Jill, who had never been west of Louisiana, back with him to begin their new life together.

It was so apropos that when they wed a few years later, Prince’s “Damn U” was their first dance song.

Call Him Nate, if It’s a Boy

Shift forward to 2004, Scott brings a friend along to see ace ex-James Brown sax player Maceo Parker perform at Hollywood’s House of Blues. Parker is sensational in his own right, but he had been playing with Prince’s band during that part of his career and so Scott had a hunch (and prayer) that his Royal Badness would show up unannounced, as is his spontaneous way, and possibly play. Sure enough, in one of the most electrifying moments among the hundreds of concerts Scott had attended, Prince did show up and proceeded to tear the roof off the sucker for a good hour or so.

It was euphoria, and when Scott got home at 3 a.m. he was floating on a cloud of musically-induced bliss. Even though she was disappointed to have missed the show herself, Jill picked up on the lingering aura, and she and her man made extraordinarily passionate love that night. A few weeks later, the couple learned that encounter had planted a seed that would become their only child.

Considering they owed both their chance meeting and conception of their son to Prince, it only stood to reason the boy’s name should reflect that. But they wanted to be somewhat subtle and clever about it, and when they knocked the concept around they came up with the perfect combination. They dubbed their baby Nathan based on Prince’s “Sign ‘O’ the Times” line, “Let’s fall in love, get married, have a baby … we’ll call him Nate, if it’s a boy.” They gave him the middle name of Parker, both as a tribute to Maceo Parker’s role and Prince’s “Sign ‘O’ the Times” album track, “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker.” And guess what, that first and middle name combined with the sir name Goldfine meant the child’s initials would be NPG — the acronym of Prince’s band, the New Power Generation. It should shock no one that long before Nathan Parker Goldfine took his first breath there was already a piano and guitar waiting for him. While the subsequent childhood years would show he wasn’t going to be a virtuoso, when it came to singing the boy fortunately took after his tuneful mom.

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