When I met Prince

PrinceYesterday, when I heard about Prince having passed away, I reflected back on the day we met. It was at a party in La Crosse, WI. He came down from Minneapolis with a couple of his buddies to have the “college experience.” La Crosse was a college town with three universities and a mile long strip of bars.

Drinking started on Tuesdays with 99¢ beers. Wednesday nights were ladies nights. Thursdays were weekend pre-parties. And, Friday and Saturday were full blown party nights. Since Old Style Brewery was in town with the largest six-pack in the world (32,000 gallons per can), all bars served the same beer.

But on this night, there was a dorm party at Coate Hall at the University of Wisconsin. I had recently come off of a film shoot for CBS. I was hired as a cinematographer to shoot all location footage for a documentary titled The Chileda Institute. I was reviewing my up coming production schedule for The Wisconsin Television Network when a group of guys barged into my room.

The student had brought his new “friends” in to introduce me to Prince. He said we had to meet since we were both in entertainment. But, before the guy finished his introduction, the self-proclaimed head of Prince’s entourage introduced Prince as an up coming star that was putting an album together (For You) and it was destined to be a hit.

Prince was embarrassed by the over the top introduction. We shook hands, sat down and chatted. The other guys took off to find some “babes” to build excitement into the party.

It didn’t take long for our conversation to focus on art. Prince was a true artist and not much into the party scene in those days. Neither one of us had a drink in our hands, but we probably had more fun talking about art than anyone else did chugging the brew. A spontaneous conversation about art is far more appealing for artists than the overture any brew can make towards fun.

Our conversation was interrupted when his entourage returned with lots of women. One woman shoved a beer into his hand and pulled him toward the door. He told me that I should be a part of the music circuit during my production down time and he’d help make it happen. Then he disappeared into the crowd of women and that was the last time we’d meet.

Prince was true to his word. During that next week I received a call from the new venue in town and by the weekend I was a concert roadie. My tenure in the music industry was short lived, as I worked six days a week in television. But I did have the opportunity to work the John Denver World Tour and the Beach Boys Tour.

The experience opened my eyes to an entire world that I didn’t know existed. Some day I’ll take the time to share about it, but for now I’ll just say, “Thanks Prince, for our great chat and my intro into the music industry.”

Copyright 2016 by CJ Powers

 

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Building an Entourage

EntourageThere are two types of entourages: those made up of yes men that eventually take you out of the game; and, those who work with you to build mutual success. The motion picture star and his entourage is the first that pops into mind, but the Ford, Edison, and Firestone entourage was legendary.

Thomas Edison encouraged his employee Henry Ford, an engineer at Edison’s Illuminating Co., to build his horseless carriage on weekends. Ford was a devoted employee until he was fully funded for his automobile. During his tenure, Ford was the recipient of Edison’s numerous introductions to all kinds of businesspeople, including Harvey Firestone who owned a rubber company. All contributed to the development of the automobile and benefited. Firestone’s most noted benefit was the launching of his tire company. Edison’s provisions included the alternator, wire and lights.

The best entourages in Hollywood provide mutual success to all involved. Every member is trustworthy and paid for his or her workload. Mutual respect positions the team for success, as everyone handles his or her portion of the business with excellence. The best teams are made up of people that work “with” each other and not “for” anyone.

While some entourages are first staffed with friends, most are staffed with experts that soon become friends. There is also a form of like-mindedness involved in the decision making process that moves the team in a unified direction. Dan Aykroyd’s entourage shares his vision with fervor, and all have become motorcycle enthusiasts that dress in black and ride together.

The first person to join an actor’s entourage is typically an agent. The publicist is the second to get on board, followed closely by the personal assistant. Soon a business manager is required, which forces the need for a personal manager. Next is security, if a hint of over zealous or crazy fans get involved. Make-up, wardrobe and a hair stylist also plug into the mix when the timing is right based on the type of work generated. If success continues a producer is added. This is then followed by the necessary connections needed to support a development team.

All above line cast and crewmembers pull entourages together. Some times department heads follow suit with smaller or department based entourages. The number one purpose is for mutually beneficial networking. It is not for narcissists. A person who sets out to create an entourage for their own benefit rarely finds success. However, leaders who pull people together to help those on the team, finds even greater rewards flowing in their direction.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers