先日、プリンスは人気コメディアン、ジョージ・ロペスがMCを務めるTV番組「The George Lopez Show」に出演した際、満員御礼のライヴ・ツアー「Welcome 2 America」を21日間にわたり、L.A.で続行することを発表しました。ファンのみなさんは既にご存知かと思いますが、N.Y.で行われた同ツアーで大成功を収めたプリンス。多くのファンやセレブリティたちが、この天才パフォーマーのライヴに押し寄せましたが、遂にL.A.にも彼はマジックを届けにきたのです！ もちろん、私も先週2日にわたり生のパフォーマンスを目の当たりにしてきたのですが、それは言うまでもなく素晴らしく、ファン全員が彼に感服しきりでした。
70年代後半にミュージックシーンに登場して以来、R＆Bとポップ・ミュージック界両方で強烈な存在感を放ってきたプリンス。世界中で何百万枚ものアルバムを売り上げ、いまもトップミュージシャンとして堂々と君臨しています。ちなみに、私が初めて彼の歌声を聴いたのは10歳のときですが、いまだに当時のことを憶えてます。その日は1979年、日曜日の午後のこと、家族と一緒にボーリングに行った帰り、家に急いで大好きなラジオ番組「Casey Kasem's American Top 40」をつけると、彼のヒットシングル「I Wanna Be Your Lover」が流れてきたのです。その瞬間から、すっかり彼の音楽に恋してしまった私。その後も「1999」や「Purple Rain」、「Diamonds and Pearls」などのベストセラーアルバムはもちろん、インディペンダント色の強い「Musicology」や「Emancipation」なども大好きです。さらに、私は二度にわたり本人にインタビューする機会に恵まれたのですが、それはもう忘れられない体験になりました。
だから言うまでもなく、今回のライヴでももちろん、彼の往年のヒット曲や新譜を聴けて、とてもエキサイティングな時間を過ごすことができました。彼は期待を裏切りません！ ライヴではまず初めに、以前私も一緒に仕事をしたことがある、30年以上も“プリンスファミリー”の一員であるシーラ・Eがオープニング・アクトとして登場。シーラは、過去の代表曲と共に、最新アルバム「Now and Forever」に収録されている新曲を披露してくれました。このアルバムは、彼女が最近始めた「The E Family」という家族プロジェクトによるもので、このプロジェクトはその名の通り、彼女の父親であり、伝説的パーカッショニストのピート・エスコベート、兄弟のピーター・マイケルとジュアンで結成されました。彼らの奏でる音楽も見事で、シーラと家族の競演を見れたのは素晴らしい体験でした。でも、それよりも嬉しかったのは、彼女が再び“プリンス・ファミリー”の一員として戻ってきてくれたことでした。
とにかくサプライズが多かったライヴでしたが、もちろん一番の収穫はプリンスの名曲をたくさん聴くことができたこと。さらに、ステージ上にはプリンスの大ファンである人気歌手、アリシア・キースまでも登場し、数年前にカバーした楽曲「How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore」を披露してくれたのも驚きでした。プリンスの新曲もいくつか聴くことが出来たので、近々、新アルバムが発表されるのではないかとワクワクしています！
HI everyone! I hope you are enjoying the spring weather in Tokyo! The past two weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of Purple as one of the biggest popstars in music, Prince has taken over the city!
He was recently on "The George Lopez Show", which is hosted by very popular comedian George Lopez, and the superstar announced on the show that he was going to be doing his sold-out "Welcome 2 America" tour for TWENTY ONE days in Los Angeles!!!! If you are a Prince fan or music lover, you probably know that Prince recently had a very successful first part of the tour in New York City, where fans and celebrities alike came out to watch one of the most talented performers in music today. And now he has brought the magic to LA!!! So I decided to go to his shows last week (I went on BOTH 4/21 & 4/22) and it was AMAZING to see him doing what he does best.. pleasing his adoring fans.
Prince has been a huge presence in both r&b and pop music ever since he came out on the music scene in the late 70's. And he has sold millions of records worldwide, and continues to be one of the best entertainers/music makers in the world.In fact, I still remember the first time I actually heard Prince was when I was about 10 years old, and it was on a Sunday afternoon in 1979.I had just finished doing bowling with my family, and I rushed home to turn on my favorite radio show, "Casey Kasem's American Top 40", and I heard Prince sing his hit single "I Wanna Be Your Lover", and I was totally mesmerized!! And it has really been a love affair with his music since then. I have loved his best-selling albums such as "1999", "Purple Rain", "Diamonds and Pearls", and have also loved his more independent albums such as "Musicology", "Emancipation",etc. I have also had the chance to interview and work with Prince twice, and I will say that it was absolutely an experience to remember.
So needless to say that I was totally excited about the chance to see him perform his old hits as well as hear some of his new music.And he absolutely didn't disappoint!!! First Sheila E, who I have worked with before and who has been a BIG part of the "Prince family" for over 30 years, was the opening act.She performed some of her old hits as well as performing some new music from her latest project/album called "Now and Forever". It is actually a family project that she recently started called "The E Family", which has Sheila teaming up with her dad, the legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo, as well as her talented two brothers Peter Michael and Juan. They sounded amazing and it was so wonderful seeing her play with her family.But even better than that, it was wonderful to see Sheila E back together again with the Prince family.
Because if you know your Prince history, for many years, Prince and Sheila E were not on speaking terms and refused to work together, so this was a VERY big deal for them to be back together again making music together.And all throughout both shows, Sheila E was playing drums and percussions for Prince's band. And at one break during Prince's show, Sheila even came out and did her big hit "Glamorous Life".
But of course, the highlight of the night was just being able to see Prince performing a lot of his old hits....and one night he even had pop superstar Alicia Keys (who is a huge Prince fan) come on the stage and sing the song "Why Don't You Call Me Anymore", which is a song that Alicia actually covered a few years ago. And he also performed some new songs, so I am hoping that SOON he will be announcing the release info for his new album!!
Now the venue that he is using for his LA leg of the "Welcome 2 America" tour is a very old venue in the area of Inglewood, called The Forum. It was used by such big names as James Brown, Michael Jackson and the Lakers used to play there before the Staples Center was built. However it is not really used much anymore. So rumors have it that Prince is thinking about buying The forum and using it to "bring back real music to the people". It seems that he thinks that the current state of music is a disaster, and he wants people to be able to get music that isn't auto-tuned hits like the current popstars such as Ke$ha, etc.So he is looking at buying the venue and booking various artists to come play there who "represent real music". Good idea? COULD be...but it is also definitely a big risk. Especially with the current economic situation. But I do believe that if ANYONE can do something like this, it is Prince, because he is so well respected in the business and also by the music buying public. SO...there are still a few shows left with Prince at The Forum here in LA, and I am determined to go back to see him at least a couple times!!
Readers, if you do get a chance to come see a Prince show in LA in the next month, take advantage of it! I guarantee you that it will be worth your while! I just heard that at his LAST show, Chaka Khan made a guest appearance and performed a couple songs!!! Who is NEXT???!!!? Can't wait to find out!!!