For 1,000 Prince fans, a tribute band’s sold-out show in St. Charles Friday was a chance to celebrate the artist whose unexpected death triggered memorials and purple-splashed remembrances throughout the nation.
The Prince tribute concert was booked four months ago, long before the significance of this night would be known.
“Just two days ago it was something everybody really, really wanted. But as of yesterday, this show turned into something I think everybody really needs,” says Ron Onesti, president and CEO of Arcada Theater.
The Prince tribute band called The Purple Xperience played to a sold-out crowd at the Arcada Theater Friday night. It was a loving farewell, a concert that felt like a family gathering.
“Needed to be here. Had to be here tonight. We love him,” said fan Michelle Lipuma.
The diversity of the audience is a testament to a man who broke boundaries.
“When I came here tonight, this is what I expected. I expected to see all ages. I expected to see all different people,” said fan Laurie Czajka. “I’m just happy that I’m part of this.”
The Purple Xperience keyboardist Matthew Fink knew Prince well. He played for The Revolution, Prince’s back-up band during the 80s and even appeared in the “1999” video.
“A great sense of humor. I always loved that about him. He always tried to have fun with everybody. That was the greatest part of his personality,” he remembers.
Fink is far from the only person in mourning. Tributes poured in from around the globe. In Chicago, the United Center and Prudential building were lit up purple, Prince’s signature color. Dozens of landmarks across the country, and especially in his hometown of Minneapolis, did the same.
Prince graced the covers of newspapers worldwide, was celebrated at overnight parties and on Broadway Jennifer Hudson and the cast of “The Color Purple” led the audience in a singalong of “Purple Rain.” Even President Obama commented on his passing and remarkable legacy.
For Fink, however, it’s not just Prince’s talent but his pure passion for music that he will remember.
“His work ethic and his prolific songwriting,” Fink says. “Really, in my opinion, he worked at his craft harder than anyone else that I knew.”
Fink says that back in the 80s he and his band mates would often rehearse with Prince from morning until night, and then call it a day, but Prince would stay and continue playing. That, he says, is what made him great.