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08 March 2013

My Love is Forever (Part II): Linda Steele


   Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s is celebrating 35 years since the release of Prince's first studio album “For You,” with a series where we interview readers who have been fans from the very beginning.
  It all began when Warner Brothers Records released “For You,” on April 7, 1978, with the album's first single, “Soft and Wet” being released approximately two months later.
  Linda Steele, of Augusta, Georgia became a fan in 1978 when she was 16-years old. She did a telephone interview in January with our blog where she discussed her Prince-related artwork, meeting several protegees and close encounters of the Prince kind:
  "We had no idea that he would be become such a megastar like The Rolling Stones, like The Beatles, like Michael Jackson..."
  ?: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
  LS: I'm a hair stylist and I've been married for 12 years. I'm originally from South Carolina and I have a cat named Silver Bells. I am an artist and I do oils, graphite, watercolors and acrylics.
  ?: How did you discover Prince? Tell me about the first time you heard him sing or saw him. How did it make you feel?
  LS: The first time I heard Prince was in 1978 (and) I was 16 years old. My sister purchased the For You album, which had some beautiful songs on it. The first time (I) laid eyes on him, (I) thought he was one of the members of The Sylvers; he looked just like Edmond Sylvers. But, Prince was a new guy just coming out. He was just phenomenal. He was just a good-looking guy.
  When he sang "Soft and Wet" and "In Love," it was beautiful...We had no idea that he would be become such a megastar like The Rolling Stones, like The Beatles, like Michael Jackson...He was wild, he a wild child (and) he was getting it...
  ?: Do you have any Prince-related stories that you would like to share?
  LS: Rick James was going to be coming to South Carolina (for the "The Fire It Up" Tour, where Prince was the opening act). That was the first time that I ever laid eyes on him (in person) and (when) he came out he had on bikini underwear. He had nothing but his drawers on, baby! I mean, boy, he rocked that concert. The heels were not as high then as I saw him wearing in the future.
  (In 1981, during the first leg of the Controversy Tour) I remember doing a painting of Prince.... At that time, it wasn't hard to get to celebrities. He was big, but, he wasn't gigantic. By the time I took the oil (paintings) backstage, the security guard told me I had already missed him... I went to the hotel (where the band was staying). I met Jimmy Jam (who was then a member of The Time) and people were asking for his autograph. I saw Brown Mark coming through (the lobby) and I stopped him and I asked him if he would give (a painting) to Prince. He complimented me on my paintings and pointed to one and said "this one looks just like Prince."

Terry Lewis, courtesy of Linda Steele
   (In 1982, during the second leg of the Controversy Tour) I said "I'm gonna go to the hotel lobby and wait this time." Before the concert (I saw) Terry Lewis (who was then a member of The Time) going to the hotel restaurant. He stopped and said "Why are you sitting here? I am going to get something to eat, would you like to join me?" But, I was too embarrassed to say that I was sitting there waiting to see Prince. He asked me more than once and I just said I was fine. I could kick myself now! I can sing a few bars... (and) I could have been in the mix!
  (Later), before the concert, I saw Prince. He had on leopard boots, and I want to say he had on a leopard jacket, with this girl I had never seen before. It was cold weather, but, the girl didn't have any shoes on her feet... I was sitting there with a magazine and when I saw them up close, walking and talking, I couldn't say anything. I noticed that Prince was very, very snow white. He had very porcelain skin and thick black hair. Dez (Dickerson) was behind them. I didn't say anything, it just happened so quickly. I'll tell you who I did get an autograph from and a picture with: Roger Troutman (of Zapp), who was also on that tour.
  I went back to the hotel (after the concert) and I saw Prince again. This time, I went up and (lightly) grabbed his arm and said "can I get a picture?" He stepped to the side like he was going to take the picture. Then, this lady (who was with him), that may have been part of the road tour, said "no, no, you go on. That was cute what you did." I think she may have saw me sitting in the lobby.
  In 1983, (during the Triple Threat Tour), I went to sit in the hotel lobby where Prince was staying. When I sat down, Jill Jones sat down beside me. I asked her if she was going to the concert... I already knew who she was, but, I just pretended like I didn't (know). She saw my pictures. She said she would see him that night and would give him (one of the) pictures. I asked her how she liked them and she said "they're okay." But,  she was very nice.
  Later, my brother was talking to a woman who said she was Prince's hairstylist in the lobby. She said she would see him and she would also give him one of the pictures. They were getting ready to load up on the tour bus.
Bobby Z, courtesy of Linda Steele
  We (also) went upstairs to the floor (where The Time was staying). I saw Morris Day and I gave him (another) one of my pictures -- which was a drawing of The Time's first album cover-- and he said "we're gonna hang it on the bus, Linda." I also saw Dr. Fink. We got into the elevator (to go back to the lobby) with The Time. They went outside to get on the (tour) bus. That's when I saw Bobby Z and I took a picture of him leaving to get on the bus.
  Today, he (Prince) wouldn't really come to this area anymore. (Back then) he was starting to be a big star, but, some people still hadn't heard of him. When "Purple Rain" came out, it was too late to try and talk to him. By then, he (had) exploded. I would write him letters and then I would send drawings and I would get postcards back.
  Then,  (years later) in an issue of NPG Magazine, I saw my photograph and you could see my drawing in the background with was other stuff printed on top of it.
  ?: How many times have you seen Prince in concert? Where was the last concert you attended?
  LS: The last time I saw Prince was the year before last (2011) in Columbia, SC. I saw one lady that was about 70 years old-- with a walker-- there. There were older people, little children and (people of) all nationalities. Just thinking back to 1978, (it's hard to believe) that he became that person. It's hard to stay on top... He is a legend, you hear me? He doesn't have to make any more songs, because he has so many hits.

Linda Steele's photo published in NPG Magazine.
?: What is your favorite Prince song and album? What is your least favorite?
  LS: "For You" is my favorite song. My least favorite song is "Sister." My least favorite album is Controversy. I liked the songs on the album, (it) had a lot of nice dance hits. (But), Controversy was more about him wanting to speak about himself. He didn't want to do interviews, so, he did it through songs; he did it through Controversy.
  ?: Why do you think you're still a Prince fan after nearly 35 years?
  LS: Prince was always sexy. Prince always had this swag about him and the ladies love him. I would still love to meet him, shake his hand and ask him "where are those drawings?" When he first came out, he was so quiet. He was just different. You really didn't know much about Prince and you'll really never know... Prince is also known to play all the instruments. He can do it all ... He'll always be great.

?: Who is your favorite Prince protegee or associated act? Why?
Cover of NPG Magazine featuring Linda Steele's photo
  LS: I would say Vanity, she had some good movies and she was pretty talented. (It was) a good race between her and Sheila E. I liked her voice and she was a pretty good actress, (but), I'm not saying Grammy or Oscar (award winning). She has been through a lot and she gave her life to God...I really like Vanity. I think Vanity has a lot of heart.
  ?: What's your favorite Prince music video?
  LS: I like "Thieves in The Temple." I like to see him see him sing and dance in that. It brought me back to his old days.
  ?: Are there things that Prince has done that, as a fan, you did not understand?
  LS: I never liked the fact that he never really gave his fans much time. He was always very secretive.
  I would say that some women complained that he only liked light-skinned women. I don't think that was true, I think everybody has a right to (like) who they like. I think he liked women that looked like Apollonia, Vanity and Mayte. That was his style. I remember one woman that wrote an article saying that her daughter had even noticed that. But, that's not my business...
  Prince has changed, he has come around somewhat. There comes a time where you have to relate to people, (when you're) in the spotlight...He just wouldn't give enough to the fans. I heard (in the past) there was one lady who went to get his autograph and he wouldn't even look up at her. I'm not trying to bash him. I love Prince (and) people are always going to put (him) in a box. It can't stop his talent and he is blessed...
  . I believe he is a very kind person. I believe he is very loving, but, very misunderstood. There are several kings, but, only one Prince.
  ?: How would you say that being a Prince fan has influenced your everyday life?
Courtesy of Linda Steele
  LS: It made me be a "go-getter" for my art. He played a big part in my artwork, because it was something (I could) show him. For a while I had stopped, but, then I went back. (NPG Magazine) putting my picture in the magazine made me feel good about my art. It made be a "go-getter" in life.
  ?: How do your family and friends feel about your love for Prince?
  LS: They respect it. (My brother) knows how long I have been a Prince fan. (The last time I saw Prince) he brought my (concert) ticket, drove from Atlanta to Augusta, Georgia and drove us to Columbia, SC. We went there and had a great time.
  ?: What are you looking forward to as a Prince fan in 2013?
  LS:  I hear that he is coming up with something different in 2013. I would like to see him come back to Columbia, SC or Augusta, Georgia and maybe make a painting of him and give it to him myself. I doubt that, but, there's always hope.
 ?: What would you say to fans who may have recently discovered Prince?
  LS: That his music still has a better message (than most music today). They can expect good music from can get so much from his music. I think young people could learn how to stick with instruments, produce better music and stay in the game like Prince... (They can learn to) do right by music, keep music alive and not just throw music out...

Stay beautiful, Kristi


Lead photo: Linda Steele.



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