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The Robinsons See Prince in Greenville, 1981…

26 Nov
The Robinsons See Prince in Greenville, 1981…

On November 25, 1981, my father was 33 and my mother was 29. That night, they did the coolest thing in their lives: They saw Prince in concert during his “Controversy” tour. This was back when he was still considered an R&B act and would play a relatively small venue like Greenville Memorial Auditorium, where I later graduated high school and where I once saw a rodeo (those were two separate events).

A month earlier, Prince opened for The Rolling Stones in Los Angeles. His “Rocky Horror” wardrobe and sexually androgynous lyrics was met with gay and racial slurs. The crowd was more receptive in Greenville.

I was 7 at the time so I was not at the concert. This means I cannot confirm my mother’s story that when the guy next to them offered her a joint, she declined.

Prince was theirs in 1981. He became mine in 1983 when I remember taping “Little Red Corvette” off the radio. Once that happened, they had to tone down their enthusiasm for Prince. They had to be parents and openly disapprove of “Darling Nikki” while silently jamming to “When Doves Cry.” Unlike Madonna and Annie, who they never got, my parents always dug Prince. My father still has his vinyl copy of the “Controversy” album, and the “Sign o’ the Times” double CD that’s in my collection is the one my parents bought in 1987. My first Christmas in New York, they sent me the just-released “Emancipation” CD.

There was a period in college when the three albums I listened to the most were “1999,” “Parade,” and “O->.” My mother, whose car stereo I’d hijack whenever I was back in Greenville, never complained. Once, after the 1,000th listening of “All the Critics Love U in New York,” she said, “He’s dirty, son. But he’s good.” That was high praise.

Greenville Memorial Auditorium was demolished in 1997. The BI-LO Center replaced it in 1998 and was the largest arena in South Carolina until 2002. Prince returned to Greenville to perform at the BI-LO Center in 2011 for his “Welcome 2 America” tour. If my mother were alive and my parents had gone to the show, they would have agreed he still has it.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Pop Life

 

Tags: , ,

4 responses to “The Robinsons See Prince in Greenville, 1981…

  1. Mike Henderson

    November 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    The greatest artist ever…

     
  2. Numyum Spade

    November 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Indeed he still has it!

    Controversy was the 2nd concert I ever attended, my sister took me to see Natalie Cole at Pine Knobb, and then it was Prince in Detroit… I wasn’t even a teenager and let’s just say my world has been Rocked ever since!

    Thanks for posting, 🙂

     
  3. Misty

    November 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I seen him on March 28th. I sat 3rd row and it was the best time of my life. I have always been the #1 PRINCE fan…but I truly have a new respect for my PRINCE. I would pay a million bucks 2 c him anytime!

     

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