Earlier this week I was laying on my couch, watching a cooking show on television, and reading the Rolling Stone cover story on the passing of Merle Haggard. The news cut into the show to tell the world that Prince had just died. What a week.
Merle was a superstar, a brilliant songwriter with a great voice and a commanding stage presence. He was one of a kind. One of the nicest guys I have ever met in this business.
Then there was Prince! I photographed him several times early in his career. It was always astounding to watch him on stage. He was a singer, a songwriter, a guitarist, a performer and a showman. He was one of the best I have ever seen at all of those things.
In 1982, he came to Chicago to perform at the Auditorium Theater. I was offered a photo pass, and having heard some rumors that Prince was not a big fan of being photographed, I hesitated, but decided to give it a try. When I got there, there was a note for me to come backstage to see his manager. When I got there I introduced myself, and he handed me an all access pass and said “Shoot whatever you want- just nothing from the stage.” OK then! I proceeded to have one of the best nights of photography in my career.
A couple of years later, I was asked if I wanted to fly to Minneapolis to photograph Prince’s birthday party. I figured there would be about a hundred photographers there, but maybe I could make back my airfare and hotel. I got to Minneapolis, went to First Avenue, and found that I was the only photographer allowed into the club that night. I still have no idea why this stuff was happening, but I wasn’t complaining!! I stood right in front of him and photographed for about 90 minutes. Those pictures became the most valuable ones I have ever shot!
Later that year, I went Detroit for the kickoff of the Purple Rain Tour, and shot 6 shows at Cobo Arena. I then came back home and shot the next 6 shows at the Rosemont Horizon.
I only photographed him a couple of more times, but will never forget his incredible performances!! To this day I have no idea why I was the photographer picked to capture that part of his career! But, it was sure a fun time!!!