Philly music legend Kenny Gamble pays tribute to Prince

Sam Newhouse

“He was the only person I knew who had a purple house.”

That was one of the reflections on famed musical artist Prince from musician and producer Kenny Gamble, who paid tribute to the legendary star as news of his death circulated on Thursday.

Prince, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, died Thursday morning at his home in Minnesota.

Gamble said he thought news of Prince’s passing was a hoax at first, until he got a call from a friend telling him it was real.

“He was one of those great talents that only come along now and then, once in a generation,” said Gamble, one half of the famed Gamble andHuff duo with former partner Leon Huff, from his offices at Universal Charter Schools.”Prince was a musician first. Michael Jackson was a singer and a dancer. But when you saw Prince, he had that guitar. He danced like James Brown with that guitar.”

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Gamble said his favorite Prince song was ” Purple Rain” and credited Prince, who hails from the Minnesota area, with creating “the Minneapolis Sound” along with artists like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Morris Day — just as Gamble and Huff earned a place in musical history for creating the famed “Philadelphia Sound.”

“He was very flamboyant — a little bit of James Brown, LittleRichard, and a whole lot of B.B. King, Muddy Waters,” Gamble said. “It was almost visual music –like Little Red Corvette.”

Gamble said that the greatest thing about Prince was his “social consciousness” — pointing out that Prince went to Baltimore during recent protests over the death of Freddie Gray, and recorded a song about the incident.

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“He was a deep thinker,” Gamble said, noting Prince’s period being identified by a symbol, or as “the artist formerly known as Prince.”

“The greatest thing about him was that he was socially conscious.”

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