Bassist Nik West remembers her famous friend
By David Sands
April 22, 2016
You’ve heard by now, the sad news that Prince, one of modern music’s most celebrated artists, passed away yesterday at his Paisley Park recording studio in Minnesota.
Prince Rogers Nelson wowed the world for several decades with his flamboyant style and prolific output as a singer, songwriter, producer, actor and multi-instrumentalist (who counted the bass guitar among his many musical tools).
On April 21, sheriff’s deputies responding to a 911 call found him unresponsive in an elevator at his studio complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Medical personnel could not revive him with CPR. Authorities will conduct an autopsy Friday to shed more light on the cause of his death. He was 57 years old.
She went on to describe their working relationship.
“He didn’t ask me to come and play bass and be my favorite bass player or Larry Graham,” she said. “He just wanted me to be who I am, you know.”
“And he was always trying to make sure that I passed the torch,” she continued. “He’s like — whenever you make it, make sure that you reach out and you help those that are under you. You know, help them…. That’s what he did to so many other musicians and so many other people that were really close to him.”
Born in Minneapolis in 1958, Prince took to music at a young age. He wrote his first song at just seven years old and had taught himself to play piano, guitar and drums by his early teens. The fact that his father led a local jazz band that his mother also sang in, no doubt contributed to his early musical interest.
During his teen years, he played in the band Grand Central (with his drummer cousin Charles “Chazz” Smith) and later with the Minneapolis-based funk group, 94 East. Prince’s debut album, For You, was released in 1978. His self-titled follow up album, which dropped the next year, ended up going platinum.
The Eighties were years of great success for him and his band The Revolution, seeing the release of records like Dirty Mind and 1999, as well as the film and soundtrack Purple Rain, and the solo album, Sign o’ the Times. By the early Nineties, Prince was playing with a different band, The New Power Generation, and had rebelliously changed his name to an odd-looking ankh-like “love symbol.” In 2000, he returned to using the name Prince and, freed from a recording contract with Warner Bros., began releasing new music through an internet subscription service.
HITnRUN Phase Two, his last album, came out this past December. Throughout the course of his career, Prince won seven Grammies, a Golden Globe and and an Oscar and sold over 100 million records. In addition to making his own music, he also penned songs for other well-known performers like Cyndi Lauper and Sinead O’Connor.
Also see these interviews with the following bass players, all of whom have performed with Prince: