Hey I noticed you sang the same part of Up the Wolves with me in Omaha again, so I thought maybe you recognized me(I can dream). Anyway you looked away when I got out my phone. I was snapchatting; like I just wanted my friends to know where I was. But I know you've expressed distaste for filming at concerts in the past. So I was wondering, what exactly is your stance? Is it the standard "kids these days" feeling, or more nuanced? Or does it just make you uncomfortable, plain and simple?
I dislike being filmed and photographed. Period. Never gonna like it. It is deeply weird to me that people get on a “but you look like you’re having fun”/”you participated in this picture” thing w/me about it sometimes – it’s like, I’m 100% aware that there’s no way out of it, so I make the best of what is, to me, a bad situation. (I have extensive experience with this particular coping strategy.) I try not to make a big deal about it, because most people don’t know what they’re missing: the feeling of a concert where literally everybody is watching the stage, that two-way conduit of energy flowing to and from the stage without any mediation – this was a joyful process, and is as extinct as the dinosaurs, but trust that the dinosaurs were awesome and so is the phenomenon I’m describing.
This isn’t “kids these days” – go to any boomer greatest-hits concert at your local amphitheater, the grandpas are doing the exact same thing, only worse. (In part because no matter what they’re doing with their phones, it’s probably taking them a little longer) – this is “a downside of technology that’s also extremely useful.” I don’t remember specific instances of this (because, important parenthetical here, this is not a big deal, I’m not onstage to indulge my feelings & preferences, I’m there to perform for the people who paid to get in), but yes, if I’m looking at somebody and they get out a phone, my assumption (which I’d defend) is that they’re less interested in the moment than I am, and I look elsewhere for a connection. Live music for me is about connection.
I do often wave people’s phones away & give them attitude about it, I guess if I had attained the sort of renunciative state that appeals to me in monasticism I’d be mellower about it but the monastic path eludes me. Like p much everybody else I spend most of my waking hours looking at glowing screens, and the concert hall / club is nicer if it’s an escape from the rest of the day, so that’s my position but again importantly none of this is a big deal. Except to say, yes, if “the singer is looking at me” is something you’re into (which it needn’t be!) then with me you gotta pick between the singer and the phone because I would feel like a schmuck singing to somebody who’s looking at their screen, no matter what it is they’re doing with it.
“You’re not going to see me playing the banjo,” Taylor Swift warned Rolling Stone at the outset of her 1989 world tour. On her Speak Now and Red tours, she claimed her turf at the crossroads of country, pop and classic arena rock. But for 1989, Swift made her bold move into full-on dance pop. She turned up the glitz with new material like “New Romantics” and “Blank Space” (“blatant pop music,” as she put it), but she didn’t compromise on her trademark emotional overshares, whether opening up in confessional interludes or torching up ballads (“Clean”). Swift aimed for a glammier look onstage, reflecting the grown-up flair of the music, and she invited high-profile guests: In Nashville, she duetted with Mick Jagger; in L.A., she brought out Beck, St. Vincent, Justin Timberlake, Chris Rock and Alanis Morissette. It all summed up her staggeringly ambitious vision of modern pop. Rob Sheffield
Ok so I had to do a wee bit of research here…I knew they went to the ocean a lot at that time, but they also apparently had super fancy resorts with operas and zoos and stuff? Haha I might be the only one who didn’t know that already :\ but anyway makes for more HCs so…
1. You bet your sweet bippy that Lizzy’s rocking one of those A-line Victorian swimsuits and Ciel’s about to explode because *gasp* her ankles are showing….
2. Ciel has to wear a matching bathing suit. Of course. Sebastian is doing his best (ok, not really his best xD) to not crack up.
3. Lizzy’s just packed their entire schedule with back to back activities. Ciel is drained af by noon on the first day, but the only thing he actually refuses to do is go to the circus because. well. trauma.
4. In my mind this is a “family vacation,” so Edward/Frances/Alexis are there. Alexis is the one that gets in the water and romps around with Lizzy, then Edward goes in because he doesn’t want to feel left out, but then Lizzy drags Ciel in and Edward’s like “bye felicia”
5. Ciel’s worried the whole time that he’s going to have an asthma attack because of the seaside air
6. Ok so I headcanon Lizzy has a monstrous appetite because of the amount of muscle and stamina she has to maintain, so she’s eating almost literally nonstop when they’re on the boardwalk (I think they had boardwalks or at least something similar). And she keeps trying to get Ciel to eat all the same stuff as her because “OMG you have to try this it’s cotton candy it’s so good and look it’s pink so adorable afkdfk!!!” and by the end of the day poor overfed Ciel has these puffy cheeks and is kind of green…
7. I would think Lizzy’s not the greatest audience member at concerts/plays/operas, just because she gets so into them she ends up fidgeting and whispering kind of loudly to Ciel/Edward/mostly Ciel. That’s why Frances has to sit behind her so she can hit her (lovingly) on the back of the head with her opera glasses every five seconds.
8. Lizzy also has her own pair of very sparkly opera glasses, and Ciel is constantly having a hand around her sash or skirt so keep her from falling when she leans over the box seat to have a closer look at the stage. One time, though, her sash actually comes undone while Ciel’s tugging at it, and it’s a big fiasco, Edward goes crazy and tries to attack Ciel for “publicly disrobing his sister” and Lizzy’s like “brOthERRR, it’s just my saAsh!!” and eventually they’re removed from the theatre in shame…
9. If they’re staying in a hotel, they’d probably either share a big suite or all have rooms near each other. Either way, Lizzy has a way of sensing when Ciel’s scared or not sleeping well, and she sneaks into his room and gets in his bed with him. He’s so comfortable with her that sometimes he doesn’t even consciously realize she’s there, he’ll just kind of snuggle into her in his sleep :) Sebastian takes Lizzy back to her own bed in the early mornings, but Frances knows anyway that’s she’s been with Ciel. She normally wouldn’t approve, but because she knows Ciel has trouble with nightmares she lets it slide without saying anything <3
10. You bet there’s a beach party and Lizzy is so in her element!!! fancy clothes, slow dancing, the works. Maybe she even gets a little bold and kisses Ciel on the nose…in public *gasp*
((I know most of these weren’t necessarily vacation-y, but I was thinking of things Victorian people would do either at a resort or just for a night out? (i.e. the opera) so anyway I had fun writing this lol maybe a little too much fun, so I hope you like it @my-lady-no-further thanks for the ask!!!))
“A Momentary Lapse of Reason” tour (1987-89) was one of Pink Floyd’s greatest concert tours. With 197 shows in 20 countries and a total gross of $135 million, it was the highest-grossing concert tour of the 1980′s.
On July 27th, 1984, Prince and the Revolution were confronted with their first hint of how their lives were about to change when they attended the Hollywood premiere of Prince’s first movie, Purple Rain. “That night at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre was insane,” recalls keyboardist Lisa Coleman. “We thought we’re just making what would be kind of a cult film. I’d stood in line at that theater to see Alien the first day it came out. And now there I was, arriving in a limo. Limousine, red carpet – none of us had ever done anything like that before. We felt more like rebels, and suddenly we’re all fancy, like movie stars.”
That night would only be the start of one of the most momentous years in Prince’s life. The film was an immediate cultural touchstone, grossing $7.7 million in its opening weekend (a commanding figure at the time) and eventually grossing 10 times that amount. Four months later, at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Prince and the Revolution launched the Purple Rain tour. The 98-show trek, which continued through April 1985, was groundbreaking in many ways: It introduced Prince’s most elaborate sets and a new guitarist (Wendy Melvoin), and the crowd hysteria and occasional cameos from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Madonna confirmed Prince’s place as pop’s most commanding star of the moment.
In the confines of those tightly structured shows, Prince reveled in special effects and over-the-top staging – doing splits or somersaults, playing his famous ejaculating guitar (using Ivory Liquid, of course) or pretending to talk to the Lord during the “Purple Rain” B side “God.” Yet the tour impacted on him in ways he and the Revolution never expected. In time for the upcoming deluxe reissue of the Purple Rain album – with accompanying bonus audio and video material – and the tour’s inclusion on Rolling Stone’s 50 Greatest Concerts of the Last 50 Years list, RS spoke with the Revolution and the band’s unofficial member, lighting director LeRoy Bennett, about those momentous five months and their aftermath.
Wendy Melvoin (guitarist): I remember being conscious that the Purple Rain tour was the biggest thing he had ever done [during planning stages]. I kept seeing sketches of plans and Prince would buzz in and out of the rooms. We were all being fitted for clothes that were being made. I was standing on one of those pill boxes, and there are about five people doing the measurements on me. It was like Queen Victoria being dressed for a gathering. At one point, one of them tried to do an inseam on my pant leg, and I felt really oddly like, “Fuck this – I’m not entitled to this. Why is this happening?”
Prince walked in and asked me to come outside so he could talk to me. Apparently he had been watching what was going on and he took me outside and goes, “You have to allow this to happen. You have to allow them to do what it is that they do. That’s why they’re here. And don’t feel bad about it.” At that very moment, I realized, “OK. There’s something else happening here, and I just have to let this happen.” I didn’t want to get in the way of how he was trying to represent himself. And that was a big, big a-ha! moment for me. I sat back and saw this thing unfold.
LeRoy Bennett (lighting director): The theatrics started to become more and more evident. Controversy had a little bit and the 1999 tour had a bit more theatrics in it. But the Purple Rain tour was a major step in technology for us. Once you’ve seen a laser beam for five minutes, you’re done with it. So what we were doing was pushing the lasers and different things through fiber optics. We had dry-ice fog, but we used liquid nitrogen a lot. For “When Doves Cry,” we’d have jets that shot horizontally across the stage. It almost looked like ghosts that flew across, met in the middle of the stage and dissipated. Other [lights] came up from the back like these huge fountains. We wanted the show to be more of an immersive experience. We wanted to portray the emotions of the songs and create interesting environments.
Melvoin: As far as signing a non-disclosure, like “You’re not allowed to do drugs,” I had heard his crew had to do something like that, but we as a band didn’t have to. But he didn’t like it when you drank in public and someone took a picture of it. He would get really buzzed if you had a picture taken with a beer because it’s like, “I don’t want children to think they can be badass only with a beer in their hand!” I understood it. I got it. There was a little bit of a weirdness, but I understood it was a business he was trying to run, and I respected it.
Matt Fink (keyboardist): Very few bands – pop bands, which I suppose you could say we were at that time – were doing coordinated dance moves while they were on their instruments. Keyboard players like myself, you didn’t really see them doing choreographed moves with the bands. But Prince wanted the whole band moving.
Mark Brown (a.k.a. BrownMark, bassist): I grew up in a time period where I would go see Cameo and the whole band was always moving. I was always asked to help with the choreography [for Prince], and so, when we would build the shows, I was kind of responsible for all of the movement. I had to figure out a way, with this different type of music, to create movement that was simple and where you could still play your instrument effectively. It was a challenge because not everybody was used to dancing and playing.
Lisa Coleman (keyboardist): We would just have to bend our bodies or shake our heads. Sometimes it got kind of rough too because I was wearing high heels and playing keyboards. It ruined my back for the rest of my life.
Fink: We were at Rudolphs Bar-B-Que [in Minneapolis] one late night and I remember Prince saying to me, “Do you think it would be cool if Bobby was standing up playing drums?” And I said, “How does a drummer stand up?” He wanted so badly for Bobby to stand up and play drums. But it worked because we had the drum machine running and Bobby was playing percussion and cymbals against the drum machine.
Bobby Z. (a.k.a. Robert Rivkin, drummer): No drummers had been required to do choreography. That was just the Prince world. We’d practice in front of a mirror. Looking at yourself was hard. He made us all look graceful, like in a ballet, because you don’t want to be a dork.
Melvoin: We had two weeks of productions rehearsals, I think in St. Paul, right before the tour started. I remember the first day we went in for full-on production, and that was astonishing to see it. That’s when I realized it, “Holy shit, this is massive. We’re in a stadium right now in production rehearsals.” I know it doesn’t sound like much right now, but back then it was like, “Oh, my God.”
Bennett: We spent more time in rehearsal than we had ever done before. It was almost like we did a tour of Minneapolis because we kept changing venues once a week, or once a week and half.
Bobby Z.: It was all about how he entered the stage. At various shows it was, “OK, now you have the gymnasium and the catwalk.” The biggest thing they had were the elevators under the stage for “Let’s Go Crazy.” There was a mannequin for when he would appear and disappear. There were all these cool magic tricks to get Prince on and off stage.
Brown: For the “When Doves Cry” scene, you had this stage prop of the claw-foot tub up on a hydraulic lift behind Bobby that was way up high. The first time they tried using the tub, which was very lightweight and made out of fiberglass, Prince got into it and they had not nailed it down into the platform. That thing went right over backwards once he got in it. He took quite a tumble. He just lay there while they checked him out, and fortunately he just had some good bruising. Things got called that day while they figured out what needed to be changed on that one. That was a scary moment.
Bennett: My heart stopped. He didn’t really fall that far, like four feet. But it shook him up a little bit. He walked off the stage, got in his car – which he always parked next to the stage in the arena – and took off. That was the end of rehearsals for the day. The carpenters changed the lyrics to “this is the sound when tubs fly.”
Melvoin: If Prince was doing any kind of bad behavior – if he was mean or just straight-up wrong about something he said he was straight-up right about – he always said something bad would happen to him. The way I remember that moment is that he had gotten into a fight with his manager. Prince was in a super-cranky mood and he was practicing his move with the bathtub and the bathtub fell. He was so freaked by it that he was super nice and kind [laughs]. Very humble.
Fink: The soundchecks were always three hours long. I would have a boom box on stage – everybody usually did – and we’d record those soundchecks because afterwards you’d want to listen to it in the dressing room to refresh your memory as to what we just learned, because it had to be played that night. That’s the way I could get through it and remember it.
Melvoin: Our soundchecks would start at like 2 in the afternoon and we’d play until 5. Each person would have to keep running out to get hair and makeup done. We wouldn’t leave to go back to the hotel after soundcheck. We had to stay there. The show would go on at 8.
Brown: Before the show, we’d all huddle up and pray. He’d point to you or tell you to lead if you had a bad day or a good day. He would speak when he had something to say. It was a meaningful ritual. You felt like you needed protection. The crowds were so loud and it was so crazy that we needed each other because that was the only thing you had – each other for support.
Fink: It was non-denominational. If someone was sick at home you’d talk about that. You just said whatever you had to say. It was a critical moment, especially when he spoke. He really said a lot of profound wisdom during those circles. He would reveal a little bit more of himself in those moments.
Melvoin: I used to think of it more as like tandem sky divers. We’d form that circle and say, “Just get us through this and make it run smoothly for him.” It became superstitious and it bothered me to some degree. But I appreciated the tradition, and I think everybody relied on it.
Coleman: Sometimes he would say weird things like, “This might be the last time we play,” or “I might break up the band,” or give us strange motivations like that just to go out onstage and kill it.
II. The Tour Begins
Coleman: When we got to Detroit [for the first show], suddenly we had bodyguards. “What? Bodyguards?!” Wendy and I had one and so did the guys. I remember getting to the hotel and guys carrying our bags, and the whole feeling was like, “Uh-oh. This is different.”
Fink: I think there were 105 people out there with us. Twelve buses. It was a massive undertaking. I knew, “Wow, we’re in the real big time now.”
Melvoin: In 1984, '85, that was the beginning of massive stadium shows. Def Leppard would always be two venues ahead of us, and Bruce Springsteen was doing Born in the U.S.A at the same time. We were all following each other in these huge caravans.
Coleman: [The first show in Detroit] was one of the loudest things I’ve ever heard. It’s like when sports teams come out onto the field. We were hitting the stage and it’s as if we were coming out from the locker room, you know? People were screaming and hanging over the rails and reaching for us. They knew our names, more than ever because of the film. We all kind glanced at each other like, “Holy shit!”
Bennett: The hair stood up on my arms. It still does thinking about it. It was just insane because none of us had experienced anything like that before. Suddenly we were elevated to a much higher level than we ever anticipated and it was a bit overwhelming. You had to really fight hard to concentrate on what you were supposed to do during the show, because you couldn’t believe what was going on.
Melvoin: When they turned the lights off and you’d stand by the side of the stage and hear, “Ladies and gentlemen …,” it was deafening. To this day, I have never heard anything like that. It was so loud that my ears became distorted at one point.
Brown: It was hard to hear yourself onstage. The audience would settle down after the first couple songs, but still … I had a huge bass rig. And even with all of that equipment, I would only hear it if I walked back by the bass amp. You’d feel the beat, but there were moments where you could get lost.
Fink: The loudest white noise possible.
Bennett: There were times where I couldn’t hear myself talking to the spotlight operators and they were having a hard time hearing me. It was crazy.
Bobby Z: Then Prince would rile them back up. He’d shake his ass or do a costume change or something, and people would go nuts again.
Coleman: The fun part was watching him, because a lot of things didn’t happen unless he gave us visual cues. It was like a game watching him run around the stage, and he would do a slight move of his hand, which would cue a riff or something. You’d have to watch pretty darn closely. Every once in a while, to cue the end of a song, he’d throw a hankie into the air, and when the hankie hit the ground, that’s when we would stop. So you had to be able to see the ground, and if you’re backed up on a riser behind keyboards and cymbals, sometimes it was hard to see, like, “Oh no! The hankie disappeared!”
Bennett: He would do hand signals for certain musical turnarounds, so you would have to watch for all that. He liked to mess around. Every once in a while, he would just do the signal in front of his chest, so the band could see it and I couldn’t. He would just do it to be funny.
Coleman: He’d say “Body Heat.” Bobby would hit the snare drum once and then we’d have to go to “Body Heat.” Then he’d stop that by saying, “'Rumble’ in E.” So we had all these different things, little modular funky things that we could put together that he could call out like we were his jukebox or drum machine that he could play. It was like a live computer.
Bobby Z: The crowd could feel it was tight and spontaneous, but it also had some train wrecks. Ninety-nine percent of the time it was a miracle.
Melvoin: I had boots on, tons of jewelry, and my instrument and I had to sing and do choreography. It was literally the Olympics. We were like synchronized swimmers. If someone screwed up that thing, there’s not even a bronze medal. You’re just off the team. This was high stakes.
Bobby Z.: At our Syracuse show, he called out “sway from side to side,” and the entire Revolution moved like a piston in an engine back and forth.
Coleman: We were wearing all these big … what do you call it? These regal New Romantics clothes? It was hot. I’d go up onstage wearing a cape on top of a dress, and I would just take off stuff during the show. Shed as much as I could. It was hot onstage with all those ruffles.
Melvoin: One of the things that Prince would tell us before going on tour, especially at the beginning of Purple Rain, was, “If you feel yourself rushing and playing too fast, cut your body’s heart rhythm in half and move your body in half-time, and you will play behind the beat.” We were religious about it.
Coleman: Prince wanted always be as good as the film. He didn’t want anyone ever to go, “Oh, that’s the band from the movie? Eww, they’re not as good.” That was one of his worst fears.
Brown: We used to get fined if we made mistakes, and I got to a point where I would stop playing bass notes in certain types of segues and start this rumbling on the bass. Prince loved that crap. And it saved me from a lot of fines.
Coleman: If you missed a cue or played an extra horn punch or something, that was $500. He would withhold your money. It never happened to me. I’m lucky. Actually, I’m good at faking it. He never knew when I made a mistake.
Melvoin: He threatened to take your paycheck away, and a couple times he tried, but we all laughed at him and said, “No, that’s not going to happen.” It was this warning, this threat, and he was really happy to go ahead and make the threat because it would make you get your shit together if you had made a mistake.
III. The Intensity
Coleman: When we were at the Superdome in New Orleans, it was, what, 90,000 people? We knew it was big because it sounded big, and then Prince said, “LeRoy, turn on the house lights!” And we turn on the house lights and it was scary. Prince was like, “Noooo! Turn them off, turn them off!” It was too much. It was an ocean of people.
Melvoin: I loved when we turned the lights on during “Take Me with You” and we could actually see the audience. We would turn on the stadium lights full blast – fluorescent, horrible lighting – and we could see everybody in the audience and we all became one and sang “Take Me With You.” You see every seat filled. You look to your left and you see everybody. You look to your right. It was incredible, and they all sang it. It was really beautiful.
Bennett: It must have been scary to them because they had no idea there were that many people. I’m sure the first time they saw that, they shit themselves [laughs].
Brown: We were literally the hardest-working band in show business. I would feel sorry when he would invite people to play with us onstage, because they didn’t understand that type of dedication. When people would sit in with us, they didn’t even know what to do. I don’t care how seasoned a musician they were.
Bobby Z: Everybody came in the band’s room, like Springsteen and Madonna [during a multi-show run at the Forum in Los Angeles in February 1985]. We had an open-door policy and got to meet a lot of fun people. Onstage, they always thought it was exciting. But onstage with Prince it was always a game.
Coleman: It became a take-no-prisoners situation, like, “Yeah, let’s just go out there and conquer the world.” And all the people that were supposed to be the competition were just like saying, “Wow!” to Prince. And again, he wanted to soak that up. He wanted to experience it firsthand, so that was a good way to do it.
Melvoin: Unfortunately he would kind of screw with people, especially big famous artists who would come up. If he sensed they were a little bit lost, he’d try and expose that: grab a guitar and do a blistering solo in their face. There was a certain amount of, like, straight-up competitive humiliation. But he thrived on that, like, “I know I’m great.”
Coleman: With Bruce, I remember Prince being a bit of an imp and trying to throw him off. He was giving us his secret hand signals while Bruce was trying to play a guitar solo. There was a little cat and mouse going on. I never knew if Bruce knew Prince was doing that because there was a bit of giggling, but we knew and were like, “No, don’t do that, it’s so mean!”
Fink: Prince was reveling in it. It was his goal to tower over everybody in a lot of ways. He loved it. With Madonna, they were flirting and playing.
Coleman: I have to admit I’m such a dork. I didn’t know who Madonna was. This girl came onto the stage and I was like, “Who’s that?” I thought he just pulled some girl up on the stage. I didn’t know what was going on until I was in the bathroom after the show.
Melvoin: Madonna came backstage and was in our dressing room, mine and Lisa’s, and wanted to use the bathroom. It was this true girl moment. We were each in our stalls peeing at the same time and she goes, “You guys are such badasses!” That was my first introduction to Madonna.
Coleman: We always had jams [during the encores]. “Baby I’m a Star” was notorious. “Purple Rain” could be 30 minutes long. We could stretch things out.
Bennett: We used to do a running bet with the crew on how long “Purple Rain” was going to be. Every night. I’m not a betting man, so I never got involved, but in the production office, there was a board where people would place their bets on the time. It was usually extended between 20 to 25 minutes. You could win a couple hundred bucks.
Coleman: During that time, Prince was very positive and didn’t want to miss what it meant to the world. He would read every magazine, whatever press. He wanted to see it all, good or bad. And then he wanted to affect it in a positive way, and he started doing more philanthropic things. We started playing at schools or doing food drives.
Melvoin: On that tour we’d be onstage for hours and then of course we’d end up doing another show afterwards or we’d do a show during the day somewhere else. It was full on every night until the last show. I remember we went to Gallaudet, the school for the deaf [in Washington, D.C.] and did the entire show in their auditorium, and it was incredible. There were huge monitors on the floor in the audience so the kids could feel the bottom end. I remember at least 25 signers in the audience who were watching us and signing all the words to every song. The kids loved it. And then they broke it down and we went to the stadium and played another show that night.
Fink: By the end of it, we were changing some arrangements. Prince still put us through mental gymnastics every day. He’d make a new transition between certain songs and you had to remember it. It was like a game to him. But Prince cut the tour short. Around the World in a Day was on his mind and backstage we were already looking at album covers for that.
Brown: During soundchecks, we recorded “4 the Tears in Your Eyes.” “The Ladder.” All kinds of stuff.
IV. The Aftermath
Coleman: By the end of the tour, he was done with [Purple Rain]. He just burned fast and hard. If you look at the concert footage, he was killing his body. It was really, really hard work and to do it for six months was plenty for him. He was starting to get excited about other things. He was ready to move on.
Bennett: Prior to that tour, we were all very close, but then it started to separate out so that he was very isolated from us towards the end of the tour. I think he anticipated the fame to a certain level, but not what that was. It sounds good in theory until it actually happens. I can’t say it frightened him, but it definitely threw him off. He was just withdrawing. I used to spend a ton of time with him back in Minneapolis over at his house and doing things with him like going to movies. That all started to go away and disappear at a certain degree during that tour. It eventually got to the point where it was us and him. And it started to suck.
Coleman: At first it was just one bus for the whole band. Then the boys had a bus, and Wendy and I had a bus. And Prince had his own bus.
Melvoin: From Purple Rain through Sign 'O’ the Times were his strongest mental and physical times. He wasn’t beaten down by any of it. It gave him incredible strength. There was a certain sort of naïveté about him during that time where he wasn’t second-guessing himself. He handled it really beautifully and wasn’t a frivolous little boy at all. He knew what his responsibility was, and he felt great about it. I don’t know how strong that feeling was for him in his later years. He handled it great at the time, but I’m sure that ultimately what it did to him is whittle away at a certain kind of deep self-esteem about himself. How could anybody reconcile that kind of power and success without it screwing with you deeply?
Coleman [on Prince not participating in “We Are the World” near the end of the tour]: It was the night of the Grammys – we’d done so well and everything was so positive. He just messed up big. I didn’t get why he wouldn’t be involved in that. I can’t really speak to that, honestly, because I didn’t really understand his thinking on it then. I think he just saw a whole bunch of pop stars getting together to “do good,” and I think he thought that was kind of bullshit, in a way.
But if you weren’t going to go there, then just don’t be seen. He was out [that night] and his bodyguard punched somebody or something. When the bad press came out it was like, “Don’t talk about it. … Nobody mention that.” So ridiculous! I thought it was most unfortunate. It was totally the opposite of what he preached.
Bennett: That whole period was so magical. You could just feel the energy of his stardom just skyrocketing. He could’ve continued to write major hits like all the songs on Purple Rain. I think it just became too easy. It wasn’t pushing him and challenging himself, because he constantly challenged himself. He did that with all of us, too. He pushed me to be more than I thought I could be. He would see who you are, what he saw you could do, and most of the time beyond what you believed you could do. And he would just push you there.
Brown: The confidence level that Prince created in all of us – you did anything. You did whatever to win the game.
Melvoin: It was thrilling. It was this roller-coaster feeling: “Woo, God, it’s scary, but I love it!” It felt like the world had opened up and we were going ahead and being allowed to make our dreams come true on that tour.
The Five Most Famous Relationships in Classical Music
This post is a little different from the ones I usually do. As in any other profession, there is such a rich diversity in composers in classical music. Likewise, there are composers who had similar tastes in music, and therefore a connection. Others helped each other out, through recommendation, tutoring, and advice. Perhaps they both took a common ground against other composers they disagreed with. Either way, here it is, the five most famous relationships in classical music.
No.5 Alexander Scriabin and Sergei Rachmaninoff
Alexander Scriabin(1872-1915) and Sergei Rachmaninoff(1873-1943) were both two of the most famous and important 20th century Russian composers. They each had a romantic touch to music, both idolized Frederic Chopin, yet they both sought out new harmonies and melodies contrary to Romanticism later in their careers, though Rachmaninoff was more conservative than Scriabin.
As you can tell, the two were barely a year apart. They both had similar childhoods. Their musical abilities were discovered soon and they both were sent to study at the Moscow Conservatory. In this picture, Scriabin is the second on the left, and Rachmaninoff fourth from the right. Though they had a fair share of differences, Scriabin’s colorful view of keys baffled Rachmaninoff, they were very good friends.
They both went on to become very successful composers and pianists. After school, they both went on very successful tours. They continued to exchange letters and frequently met. However, while Rachmaninoff’s career flourished in the 20th century, Scriabin began to become more and more unstable. He began to get more and more isolated, more and more inclusive. He became obsessed with mysticism, which was a growing “fad” in the early 20th century as well as the apocalypse.
In 1915, Alexander Scriabin died at the age of 43. Rachmaninoff was a pallbearer to his funeral. For a year, Rachmaninoff went on tour only playing Scriabin’s music. When requested to play either his own music or the music of another composer, Rachmaninoff would coldly respond “Only Scriabin tonight”. Much of the money Rachmaninoff made was given to Scriabin’s family.
For the remaining years of his life, Rachmaninoff always looked back and remembered Scriabin as a great composer and a great friend.
No.4 Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel
Together, Claude Debussy(1862-1918) and Maurice Ravel(1875-1937) were two of the most famous and important impressionist composers. They were both quintessential to the French Artistic break from Romanticism. They both admired the same composers, wrote the same genre. Yet their music is so different from on another. Their friendship would turn to a rivalry and then eventual mutual admiration.
They both attended the Paris Conservatory, though not together as Debussy was 13 years Ravel’s senior. They both admired the music of Camille Saint-Saens and Gabriel Faure. Ravel studied directly under him. Ravel was also greatly influenced by Debussy’s music and borrowed from Erik Satie to create his own style of music.
Though their friendship was never close as other composers on this list, it is nevertheless important. They often met to play and discuss another’s works. Debussy’s music was more fantasy, dreamy, and fluid, while Ravel’s was more innovative, realistic, and watery. Though at first, they often agreed on many things, their friendship began freeze. Ravel started to criticize Debussy’s music. He suggested that Debussy should have re-orchestrated his great masterpiece “La Mer”. This was a huge insult to Debussy.
Soon, different sides were set up pitting one composer again another. Something that both composers were embarrassed of. However, as each of their lives took separate courses, they did not forget about each other. When Debussy died in 1918, Ravel was one of the few to attend the funeral procession, even as the Germans were bombarding the city during World War I. Perhaps just a symbol of respect for his former friend and mentor.
No.3 Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
This was one of the most special relationships in music history. Haydn(1732-1809) and Mozart(1756-1791) both held each other in the highest of esteems. They both cherished each other’s music and made it well known of their great friendship.
Haydn was already a well established composer by the 1770s, a time when Mozart was touring Europe with his family. Both composers had already heard of each other. Haydn of the genius child prodigy, and Mozart of one of the most esteemed composers in Europe, a cherished court composer of the Esterhazy family. Finally in 1783, they met. Then their friendship began.
They met frequently, reviewed each other’s work, and took advice from each other. They even played each other’s string quartets, Haydn on second violin and Mozart on the viola. However, they had an even more special relationship. They had more of a father-son relationship. Haydn was 24 years older than Mozart. This relationship was important for Mozart, because he had a strained relationship with his own father, Leopold Mozart. He even affectionally called him “Papa Haydn”. Likewise, when Mozart did introduce Haydn to his father, Haydn said to him “he is the greatest composer known to me”.
We often think of Mozart as a perfect composer, able to turn out music finished, uncorrected, a perfection. However, this is not the case. Mozart decided to write and dedicate six string quartets to Haydn. This was a tribute to Haydn, who invented the string quartet himself. Mozart agonized over the work. He rewrote it many, many times. His cross outs remain as proof on the original score.
However, their friendship ended in tragedy. While Haydn was touring in London, Mozart died at the age of 35 in 1791. Haydn was devastated. Later on in his life, Haydn refused commissions for operas, because he was inferior compared to Mozart in the genre. Even as the next great composer arrived in Vienna, Beethoven became a direct student to Haydn, he always looked back at Mozart as the greatest composer who ever lived.
No.2 Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms
Here is another father-son relationship. Robert Schumann(1810-1856) in his time, was one of the most sought after composers in Germany. He was a composer, critic, and writer to a newspaper he started called “New Journal of Music”. He was already established and was respected. His wife Clara(1819-1896), was one of the greatest concert pianists of the 19th century. Together they were quite a “fearsome couple”. She often performed Robert’s music. Johannes Brahms(1833-1897) was a young, 20 year old composer and pianist sent from his hometown Hamburg to study under Schumann from letter of recommendation.
Right away, the Schumanns were amazed by Brahms both as a pianist and composer. When he played his Piano Sonata No.2 in F-sharp minor Op.2(which was actually his first), Schumann called it a symphony at the piano. He also played other works and showed him some orchestral music. Schumann believed that Brahms was to be the next great composer, even so far as to compare him to Beethoven. In his newspaper, Schumann wrote an article called “New Paths”. In it, he described Brahms as an “apostle”, the “messiah of music”. This was a huge boost in Brahms’ career. However it did have a negative effect on Brahms as well. This comparison to Beethoven and the assertion that he would surpass Beethoven turned Brahms into an extremely self-critical composer. He would spend the next 40+ years of his career constantly working, perfecting, and destroying his music. However, this article helped Brahms greatly. By the 1860s, he was already and established composer in Vienna. By the 1870s, he was already regarded as one of the greatest composers of the age.
Brahms studied under Robert for three years until tragedy struck. Robert fell into madness and attempted suicide. For the last months of his life, Robert was in a mental institution. He eventually died at the age of 46 in 1856. Brahms stayed with Clara and helped raise her children. This is the second part of Brahms’ friendship. He was romantically interested in Clara and may have even proposed marriage. Clara, 14 years his senior understood how they could not be together. She decided to dedicate the rest of her life playing her late husband’s music, and making it as famous as it is now. Brahms understood this. However, they remained life long friends.
They continued to write each other. They both were extremely critical of the music of Franz Liszt and Wagner and their “New German Music School”. Schumann and Brahms were conservatives in music. Brahms also sought advice from Clara on his compositions. However, Clara always praised him and continued to encourage him. In 1896, Clara died at the old age of 77. Brahms, 63 years old himself was devastated. Perhaps her death accelerated his. Within a year, Brahms was diagnosed and died from liver cancer in 1897. So ended this long, 43 year friendship.
No.1 Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner
At number one is the most important relationship between two composers in classical music history. Both Franz Liszt(1811-1886) and Richard Wagner(1813-1883) were two of the most famous composers of the 19th century. Liszt was regarded as the greatest pianist of his time. Wagner remains the most important opera composer who ever lived, only comparable to his rival, Verdi.
Their friendship began with Wagner seeking aid from Liszt. Wagner, between 1849-1858 was in exile in Switzerland, destitute, and outlawed from Germany. A volatile person by nature, he wrote to Liszt, beginning his help in the form of sending money, a piano and conducting his works. It was Liszt who premiered much was Wagner’s music. He also transcribed his music for piano which also brought Wagner fame and fortune. Finally, he returned to Germany and worked with Liszt directly.
Liszt was also a respected composer, who wrote mind numbing virtuosic works for piano as well as symphonic poems for orchestra. They both were supported of the “New German School” of music. They believed in a “Program Music”, combining all art forms into one single, titanic art. For example, Liszt took inspiration from art and literature for his works, Wagner the same. They rebelled against the tiresome and bored conservative music. They looked not only to reach Beethoven’s summit but to surpass it.
They also had another relationship. Liszt was Wagner’s father-in-law. Wagner, who was 24 years older than Cosima Liszt married her. In the 1860s, while Liszt was beginning to withdraw himself from the music scene and the delve into religious study and meditation, always gave advice and talked with Wagner. Wagner meanwhile, rose to become one of the most important composers of his time. He rivaled Brahms to become Germany’s most important composer following Beethoven. His operas such as “The Flying Dutchman”, “Tristan and Isolde”, and of course his massive “Ring Cycle” remain the greatest operas of all time. He set the stage for the 20th century. Composers such as Debussy, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev borrowed greatly from Wagner.
In 1883, Wagner died. Liszt, though saddened, remained content as an abbey in the church. He was asked by his daughter Cosima to take part in the “Wagner Festival”. Not only did he participate, he led it. Liszt, who was well into his 70s was tired easily and old age had quite crippled him. He contracted pneumonia while leading the festival. This was most likely contracted on the train ride there. So ended this great and famous relationship.
These friendships left huge legacies, both on the composers and what they left behind. It proves how essential friendship is in even this art form. Though these great contributors to music often clashed with one another, they also united for different music causes. Stay tuned fro my next post next Wednesday.
You golden white boy with a jazz saxophone for a voice that could only be drowned out by your loud sneakers and your matching fitted caps
They named you heir apparent to the throne
Had the nerve to wear that leather jacket at the Grammy’s without my permission
I nearly treated it as if it were a terrorist act against the crown.
But I know puppets when I see them, I only wonder who controls your strings
Is it the same person who perfectly coiffed your hair, who dipped you face first
into a pool of beautiful, got you rockin’ your swag as if you invented the shit
But I remember being there, a wide-eyed boy, with an even wider nose
Just happy being doped, but then too doped to happy
In Hollywood, they put their stars into the ground for a reason
But you don’t have the courage to be a beautiful corpse
Your chest can’t handle the weight of this kind of tombstone
I wonder, how much you even know of black face minstrelsy
Does Bert Williams haunt your dreams?
Who gave you them educated feets, taught you to smile and sing pretty like good “nigger folk” without the black make up
Sometimes you are the saddest clown I’ve ever witnessed
But I know you’re not to blame, they are
They do this to us
I bet you thought your face would always get good gas mileage
And here, you wonder why I try to update my own motto to something more streamline, more efficient, plastic surgery makes picture perfect
Silly boy, you ain’t different, hell, you ain’t even good enough to be bad
I know something that only a handful of us know
That on some nights, you cry yourself to sleep asking,
“When the fuck did my childhood go”
The crown is too heavy for your head
Boy, you ain’t old enough to be king
Weird, how we make sex icons out of child stars figuring,
If we can fuck them earlier, we can fuck them longer
We both know Britney ain’t up and go crazy for nothing
She didn’t just “flip her lid”
She tried to shave her tiara off.
Royalty, ain’t all it’s cracked up to be
Justin, they will make a mummy out of you
So that even in death, someone will prop you up
Attach the strings, make you smile pretty
So that your funeral will be your greatest concert