PRN Alumi Events Notes from last weekend.
This was posted by Laura Tiebert (co-author with Alex Hahn) on FB.
On Saturday, I was fortunate to attend the PRN Alumni Conference at the Capri Theater. I saw the recording panel moderated by Michael Dean and the style panel moderated by Duane Tudahl. Both were SUPERB in their content. If PRN Alumni take this show on the road, I highly recommend attending.
From the recording panel, highlights and juicy tidbits:
- Taja Sevelle and Kathy Adams spoke about Prince's charitable giving. Kathy stepped out from behind the purple cloak to share how she worked with Prince on the LovOneAnother charity. Did you know that Prince helped a town called Princeville (in NC) when it flooded, sending building supplies? So many stories like that one! Taja shared a touching story about her telling Prince that the earbone is connected to the heart ... and how he became very careful about the words he used in his songs in later years for that reason.
- On the recording panel, Hans Martin Buff, who was at PP 95-99 and engineered Emancipation, shared that one week, he worked 118 hours. And he indicated this was not hugely atypical. Susan Rogers added that Prince's strong work ethic meant that a 96-hour stretch of nonstop work wasn't a violation of any principle - because if you're awake, you should be working. He knew he had an opportunity and didn't want to waste it.
- St. Paul Peterson said that in joining The Time in 1983 at age 17, he found himself rehearsing (under Jellybean Johnson) 6-7 days/week, 10 hours a day, for eight months straight -- all to play ONE show. "That is what makes Prince, Prince," he said.
- Susan Rogers astutely noted that we have a PR problem in communicating to the world about why Prince mattered and how he will be remembered. As a PR person myself, I couldn't agree more.
- About the Vault, Hans noted that Prince had a cataloguing system and a computer there, but stopped using it in the mid-90s. To catalog everything there will be a gargantuan task.
- Susan confirmed that yes - she gave Prince a cassette mix down of Wally #1. She does not know what he did with it. She said that the version of Wally that's circulating has the same lyrics and chord progressions but is a different take, with different emotion, than the original.
- From "1999" - the voice that says "Don't worry, I won't hurt you" is PRINCE.
- Scottie Baldwin said that he and Prince brainstormed the idea of a piano and microphone show in 2002.
- Dave Hampton said that upon arriving to work with Prince he was blown away by the high caliber of musicianship in Mpls. When he returned to LA and musicians would complain to him about how hard they'd been working, Dave would say, "You haven't been working. You have NO idea."
- St. Paul said it was astounding how many things Prince did well. He noted that not many legendary performers are also multi-instrumentalists.
- Susan noted that unlike an artist like Michael Jackson, whose music came from an external group - Michael gathered people around him to make an album and had the best talent in the business around him -- Prince's music was generated from the inside out. She got choked up talking about how a kid from the Northside looked at the music industry and said, "I can do it myself." We all got a bit choked up ... cue the Kleenex boxes.
That was when Pepe Willie made a surprise appearance to tell about Prince's first time in the studio, in 1975.
Up next: the Style Panel.
Part 2: Juicy tidbits from the Style Panel. What an accomplished group of women who did Prince's wardrobe, hair and makeup. Through their stories, it was readily apparent that these women knew Prince. Man, did they know him. Clearly there is a special intimacy to caring for someone's personal appearance.
- Kim Berry told a story of Prince calling her to come to PP to do his hair at 6 a.m. He was already in full makeup when she arrived. She did his hair, then asked him where he was going. "To bed," he said.
- Stacia Lang, head of wardrobe in the early 90s, told the story of the infamous 1991 "Gett Off" costume. Prince told his assistant Therese what he wanted, somehow managing to avoid using the words "butt" or "ass." Therese managed to telegraph this information to Stacia, who had to come up with a design to present that day. She made two designs - one with two circles cut out and one that exposed more, all the way down the back of the leg. She took the designs to Prince, and presented them. He made an "x" through the design that exposed the legs. Apparently he wanted to be more modest. HA. BTW - the holes were of course covered in a very sheer flesh-toned fabric.
- Bonnie Flesland, from Minneapolis, told of being on tour with Prince in the mid-90s when he called her out of wardrobe and onto the stage at soundcheck. Grouchy and dreading what request was coming, Bonnie showed up on the stage and asked what was needed. "Bonnie, rap for us," Prince said.
- Donna Gregory struck a chord with many in the audience when she spoke of Prince's spirituality. "He was gifted with something sublime," she said. She also said, "God put Prince on the planet to be small." I stopped in my tracks and imagined Prince being 6'4" and realize nothing would have worked. I can't even put into words why, but it wouldn't have been the same.
- Cheryl Ann Nick told of being plucked from obscurity to doing makeup for Graffiti Bridge. She got to the chair to do Prince's makeup and he threw a curve ball, telling her she couldn't touch his face. (Makeup artists "anchor" their hand on a client's chin, etc.). She overcame this hurdle by using exceptionally long brushes. "There was no room for error," she said. And along with all the others, she noted that nothing scared her after working for Prince.
- Kim Berry, who styled Prince's hair from around 1990-2016, told of walking into PP in the pitch black one night after being summoned by Prince. The doves were crying (Prince would beg to disagree, saying the doves were "like angels singing") as she nearly stumbled over a huge, weird-shaped chair in the atrium (the "Beetlejuice" chair, she called it). She screamed as Prince laughed hysterically. He asked, "If you got your life right, what you scared of?"
- "Once in a blue moon, he would thank us," said Kim Berry, "We kept him together. There was a spiritual sense to all we did for him."