Prince played three times in Chattanooga, all at Memorial Auditorium:
› Dec. 12, 1980
› Nov. 11, 1982
› May 7, 1998
Prince Platinum Albums
* “Controversy” (1981): 1 million copies
* “1999” (1982): 4 million copies
* “Purple Rain” (1984): 13 million copies
* “Around the World in a Day” (1985): 2 million copies
* “Parade” (1986): 1 million copies
* “Sign o’ the Times” (1987): 1 million copies
* “Batman” (1989): 2 million copies
* “Diamonds and Pearls” (1991): 2 million copies
* “Love Symbol Album” (1992): 1 million copies
* “Emancipation” (1996): 2 million copies
* “Musicology” (2004): 2 million copies
Top 10 Singles
* “Little Red Corvette” (1983): No. 6
* “Delirious” (1983): No. 8
* “When Doves Cry” (1984): No. 1
* “Let’s Go Crazy” (1984): No. 1
* “Purple Rain” (1984): No. 2
* “I Would Die 4 U” (1984): No. 8
* “Raspberry Beret” (1985): No. 2
* “Pop Life” (1985): No. 7
* “Kiss” (1986): No. 1
* “Sign o’ the Times” (1987): No. 3
* “U Got the Look (with Sheena Easton) (1987): No. 2
* “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” (1987): No. 10
* “Alphabet Street” (1987): No. 8
* “Batdance” (1989): No. 1
* “Thieves in the Temple” (1990): No. 6
* “Cream” (1991): No. 1
* “Diamonds and Pearls” (1991): No. 3
* “7” (1992): No. 7
* “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” (1994): No. 3
Eric Foster was 12 years old the first time he saw Prince in concert.
It was the Triple Threat tour in 1982 and featured not only Prince but The Time with Morris Day and Vanity 6.
Foster, then a budding musician and now an on-air personality at WJTT-FM/Power 94, was there for one thing — His Royal Badness, the Purple One — but not just for the show itself.
"It wasn't, 'Hey, we're at a Prince concert,'" recalls Foster, a drummer and bassist. "I wanted to hear every guitar riff, every chord change; how he was going to change this thing up from the way it was on the record.
"That guy was amazing," he says. "Wow, how can you put that into words? Everything about him; how daring he was musically; how gifted he was musically; how gifted he was business-wise."
Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson, was found dead Thursday in his Paisley Park studio in Minneapolis; he was 57 years old. No cause of death has been reported, but he was a well-known teetotaler throughout his career.
In recent days, however, there were hints he wasn't well. He postponed an April 7 show in Atlanta, citing the flu. And just hours after the second of his two sold-out concerts in Atlanta's Fox Theatre on April 14 — part of his "Piano and a Microphone" tour — he was rushed to the hospital in Moline, Ill., after his private plane made an emergency landing, according to news reports.
During a brief appearance Saturday night at Paisley Park, he mentioned the incident, saying, "Wait a few days before you waste any prayers," according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Melissa Ruggieri, music writer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saw and reviewed the first of Prince's two shows at the Fox and wrote the last official review for one of his shows. She gave him a positive review, saying, "He took his disciples to church with a set that resonated intensely."
And while Prince hasn't had a major hit since 1995, when "I Hate U" hit No. 12 on the Billboard Pop charts and No. 3 on the Billboard R&B charts, his legacy as an artist cannot be shortchanged, she said.
"He was really one of the first in contemporary music to take that mixture of rock, pop, soul and funk and meld it into something mainstream," Ruggieri said. "His appeal was universal. You never thought of Prince as a black artist or an R&B artist or a soul artist. He was Prince."
Jim Striker, owner of the downtown nightclub Raw, owned The Bay in 1998 when Prince performed a May show at Memorial Auditorium. After the concert, Striker said, a charity fundraiser was held at The Bay, located on King Street. Prince brought his whole band with him to the club, including legendary bassist Larry Graham.
At the party, Prince was asked if he would sit at a small table to sign autographs, but he declined. Striker recalls Prince told him it wasn't that he didn't want to, but at 5 feet, 2 inches tall, he was tiny and, when he signed autographs, it tended to turn into a frenzy. He could be hurt in that melee, Prince said, and if that happened, he couldn't play the next show and his band wouldn't get paid.
"I remember thinking that was very practical and not a bad thing," Striker said.
Jeremy Jones of Ringgold, Ga., believes he's seen Prince at least two dozen times; he's not exactly sure because he's attended so many of his concerts, the shows tend to flow together. But he's sure he saw him at the two shows in Atlanta, and he drove up to Minneapolis in January to see Prince do a test run of the "Piano and a Microphone" tour at Paisley Park. The shows were simply Prince, a piano, a microphone and some candles, Jones said.
In hindsight, he said, there was a difference between the performances in Atlanta and Minneapolis.
"Knowing what we know now, he was less active in Atlanta than in Minneapolis," said Jones, who is running for Georgia state representative in District 3. "With a piano, you can't run around the stage, but in Minneapolis he got up on the piano and got you to clap your hands."
None of that happened in Atlanta, "but the music was perfect," Jones said.
A week after Prince's last official concerts, Ruggieri said she has thought back to the show she reviewed, trying to recall if anything jumped out at her: Did he look sick? Did he seem weak?
"That's the thing that's so crazy, he looked totally fine," she said. "He was not lethargic or frail. And he sounded great when he was singing. He was a little nasally when he was talking, and you got the feeling that he had a cold or was getting over something, but his falsetto was in perfect form. He hit some notes that were: 'Wow, at 57, being able to nail that note.'"
Contact Shawn Ryan at email@example.com or 423-757-6327.