Prince's Fans, Old Bandmates Happy to be Part of Super Bowl LIVE Salute

Crowds at the salute to Prince Monday night at Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall. Photo: KSTP/Frank Rajkowski
Crowds at the salute to Prince Monday night at Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall.

January 29, 2018 10:00 PM

Neither cold weather nor the prospect of dealing with large crowds was going to keep a diehard fan like Stone Blake away from Monday night's salute to Prince at Super Bowl LIVE.

After all, the late Minnesota musical icon weathered the elements himself to turn in one of the more memorable halftime performances in Super Bowl history in the rain at Super Bowl XLI in February of 2007.

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So it seemed the least Blake and thousands of others could do was brave the frigid temperature to come out and have a good time listening to Sheila E., Morris Day and the Time and Prince's old band The Revolution.

"Anytime you have a lot of people coming to Minneapolis for a big event, there has to be some kind of Prince reminder," said Blake, a native Californian now residing in Minneapolis who called himself 'the biggest Prince fan there is.'

"He's the guy that put this city on the map. And if he was still here, he'd probably be performing at halftime again this year. But since he's not, this is the next best thing."

There have been a number of tributes to Prince since he died at age 57 in April 2016.

But Bobby Z. – the drummer for The Revolution – agreed there was something special and appropriate about the salute Monday.

Minnesota's Moment: KSTP's Super Bowl Page

It marked the third in a series of free concerts in the days leading up to Super Bowl LII on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. The shows were organized by famed producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis – who got their start in the same Minneapolis scene of the late-1970s and early-1980s in which Prince was such a dominant figure.

"The tributes to Prince will continue for hundreds of years," Bobby Z. said. "But to be able to pay tribute here, when the Super Bowl is in Minneapolis and the national spotlight is on the Twin Cities, definitely makes it a special occasion."

Prince, of course, was a sports fan himself. He even wrote a song for the Minnesota Vikings – entitled "Purple and Gold" – as the team was en route to the NFC Championship Game in January 2010.

"He was actually a great athlete," Bobby Z. said. "We used to play touch football. And he was an outstanding basketball player.

"He loved sports. He was a huge fan of the Vikings and a huge fan of the Timberwolves. I think he understood the discipline it took to be a top-flight athlete."

The Revolution reunited in the wake of Prince's death, and have been touring. But Bobby Z. said the feeling isn't the same as it was when Prince was in the spotlight at center stage.

"There's a big hole in the middle and everything is different because of that," he said. "We wanted to do this for the fans so that people could hear a bit of what Prince and The Revolution was like. But without him there, it's really a sing-along, or a seance almost.

"It's a very interactive experience."

RELATED: Prince Photographer Afshin Shahidi Shares His Intimate Trove

Lots of fans wanted to share in that experience Monday. Crowds were so thick it was hard to move on the mall, and many chose to retreat to the skyway to try and get a better view.

"We were just saying that if they knew how big this would be, they might have planned to put up jumbotrons so everyone could see," said Dawn Moore of Wayzata.  "There are just so many people here."

But Moore said she was having a good time. So were sisters Paulette Lindblom and Merilee Bremer of Wayzata, who were clad in purple Prince gear.

"We event went and got a tambourine," Lindblom said with a smile.

RELATED: Source: Prince Death Investigation Will Soon Go to Prosecutor for Review

Stuart Turner, who works in the nearby IDS Center, had to come outside to check out Morris Day's soundcheck Monday afternoon. And he planned to be back for the concert later in the evening.

"I'll have to get warmer attire though," he said with a smile.

He too felt it important some type of Prince tribute was worked into the fanfare leading up to Sunday's game.

"He's a local legend," said Turner, who moved to the Twin Cities 'six winters ago.'

"It's great to see people keep finding ways to keep the hometown boy's memory alive."

That sentiment was echoed by Bobby Z., who said The Revolution was excited to be part of Monday's show.

"It means everything to us to be included as part of an event like this," he said. "To be part of the giant enterprise of bringing an event like the Super Bowl here. We're very appreciative people are still interested in this music and want to hear it."

Of course, neither he nor his bandmates had ever played that music in conditions as cold as it was outdoors on the mall where the temperature dropped into single digits Monday. 

"I never signed up for mental toughness training as a musician," he said with a chuckle prior to Monday night's show. "We feel like we're NFL players at Lambeau Field or something. But we'll get through it.

"Hopefully the music will warm everybody up."

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Frank Rajkowski

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