Yesterday the world lost another music legend with the tragic death of Prince, aged 57.
His unexpected passing appears to be the result of ailing health, which only makes it all the more awful. So without doubt, there will be thousands of articles in the next few days memorializing his life and mourning his death. Much like other entertainers who have recently left our world, his music influenced millions.
Yet for me Prince was never completely part of my life as David Bowie or Michael Jackson had been. Looking back to 1996, when I was 12 years old, Prince influenced my life in more ways than I've given him credit for.
Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo + Juliet'
Claire Danes was my first real celebrity crush. More specifically, Claire Danes as Juliet, in Lurhmann's 1996 genre-crossing Shakespeare adaptation. As a tragic tale of young love and death, it is not entirely an ideal lesson in love and romance for a 12-year-old boy. But the film moved me, and I guess that is a lot of emotion for a pubescent boy to take. There probably is little point in denying, as awkward as it could sound, that the film marked the awakening of my own sexuality.
The meeting behind the fish tank between Romeo and Juliet, I think, could be one of the most romantic film scenes of all time. And yet, now as 31-year-old man with more than double that life experience, the innocence that scene represents is pretty glaringly obvious. These were just kids, getting into something that they didn't entirely understand; a forbidden romance between feuding families.
It is all very 1990s, from costumes, design and cinematography, and to even how Lurhmann crafted the adaptation. The film could be a near-perfect allegory of how I see my puberty, trying to understand the opposite sex and growing up in the '90s, culminating in my first proper girlfriend just four years later.
'When Doves Cry'
The soundtrack to Romeo + Juliet features a jukebox of songs, remixed and reworked, synonymous with Lurhmann's follow-up entry in his Red Curtain Trilogy, Moulin Rouge!. With too many songs to possibly make a connection with, from Des'ree's Kissing You (the love theme from the film) to Lovefool by The Cardigans, it could be a little surprising that only one song stands out as the identifier for the whole film — Prince's When Doves Cry, a cover by Quindon Tarver.
Originally written for 1984's Purple Rain, I could not have been less surprised to learn that its famous synthesized keyboard hook had been sampled in another '90s childhood musical mainstay, MC Hammer's Pray from his popular album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. (Yes, MC Hammer was a big part of my tweens.)
I would have been 14 or 15 when I saw Purple Rain for the first time and finally made the connection between Romeo + Juliet and Prince. The relationship from there was harmonious. Because it led to Batman, and I hadn't even noticed yet.
'Partyman' — Batman
Tim Burton's 1989 Batman was my first superhero movie. It started my love for the comic book genre. I watched it in secret at a friend's house when I was just eight years old. The Joker was scary as hell. And Batman was dark and brooding — at least, for the early '90s.
I remember distinctly worrying what my parents would think of me watching such an adult movie, right until one scene came along, where the Joker and his henchmen dance. My friend and I got up and danced to the scene, like silly eight-year-old boys would. We thought it was the greatest movie moment ever, rivaled only by the end credits of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey when God Gave Rock And Roll To You II played and we also danced, this time in the cinema aisle.
The song was catchy and classic.
And it belonged to Prince. As did a lot of music from the film.
Goodbye, Sweet Prince
Prince passing is a great loss to the entertainment world. But his legacy will live on.
I tweeted earlier today just a simple message to remember Prince's passing.
Prince's music is now forever. I have no doubt about it.
Daniel Sanguineti is an Australian film producer and writer, who has previously tutored film and media at the University of Canberra and the Canberra Institute of Technology. He is on twitter @DanSanguineti.