Friday, December 23, 2011

R.I.P. David Prince

I just received some terrible news. David Prince, a fellow music writer, sometimes DJ and all-around music fanatic, died last night at his Santa Fe home after a lengthy bout with emphysema. He had been in hospice for some time, I'm not sure how long, so his death wasn't unexpected. But it's still terrible.

Our mutual friend Al Faaet, who informed me of his death, said Prince was 65.

Prince's musical passions and mine have intersected several times during the past 20 years or so, He had a at least a couple of long-standing gigs writing music reviews and features for Pasatiempo, The New Mexican's arts and entertainment magazine (where Terrell's Tune-Up is published). The most recent stint ended in late 2007.

He had a column there in the mid '90s called "Take 505." Prince also wrote for The Santa Fe Reporter and was music editor for the long defunct local paper Crosswinds. For a few years we were both contributors to the Village Voice's annual  Pazz & Jop poll.

And he was a DJ at KSFR. In fact my show, The Santa Fe Opry, took over Prince's Friday night slot where his show Flight 505 aired for several years. I got to sub for him on his show fLight 505 a couple of times. He also did radio shows for KUNM and a short-lived jazz show for KBAC.

Prince was at KSFR back in the weird old days, when the station had a "fine arts" format that permitted very little crazy rock 'n' roll. Here's what writer Jason Silverman wrote about Prince's show in Pasatiempo in 1994:
Prince plays a range of music over Flight 505 . The show also includes readings and comedy, linking styles and influences ranging from Ornette Coleman to Joseph Heller, from Captain Beefheart to Lenny Bruce, from the two-tone of the 1910s to Tom Waits.
Prince, who covers music for Pasatiempo, has been on the radio on and off since the late '60s, when he was a jock on the Ithaca College station. Public radio, he said, affords him a freedom that commercial radio doesn't.
``On oldies stations you can't play Jimi Hendrix, because he's too rock 'n' roll, '' he said. ``And on classic rock stations you can't play The Drifters, because they're oldies. That's just ridiculous, because all of these people influenced each other, all of them cross-pollinated.''
Which reminds me of how I first got to know Prince. It was in 1989 or '90 and I'd been sick for several days. I was flipping around the radio dial on a Friday night and stumbled upon KSFR. I forget what song it was, but I liked it and was surprised to hear it on a station that normally played classical music.

And I liked the song after that, and the one after that, and the one after that ... This, I later learned was Prince's fLight 505.

Of course I didn't always agree with Prince's musical opinions. But I always had to concede that his knowledge of music was far wider than mine. He knew far more about jazz than I ever will. And the same is true for classical music.

A few years later, I was listening to a classical show one weekend afternoon. Now, I'm a complete rube when it comes to classical music. I don't even remember much about the piece I was hearing, but the DJ talked about it enthusiastically  in easy to understand language and it really added to my appreciation. This, of course, was Prince, who I think was substituting for the regular host. Sometimes classical DJs seem so snooty and effete, but not Prince.

I think the last time I saw Prince he was working at The Candyman a few years ago, back when they sold records and CDs. Until I heard about his illness recently I wasn't even sure if he was still in town. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye.

All I can say now is that Santa Fe has lost a true champion for music.

Update 11:45 a.m.: I added the fact that Prince suffered from emphysema.

Update 8 a.m. Dec. 25: CLICK HERE for Prince's obit by Craig Smith in The New Mexican.

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