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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ten of Prince's Most Memorable Bay Area Shows

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 4:57 PM


Though Prince started touring in 1979, it wasn’t until 1981 that the Purple Rain artist played his first show in the Bay Area at a now-defunct nightclub in S.F. called The Stone. From 1981 to 2016, he played a total of 34 shows throughout the Bay Area (half of which were in Oakland, and six of which were in Daly City in 1985). Of those, we’ve selected ten of Prince’s most memorable Bay Area performances, and we’re willing to bet that more than a few fans still have their ticket stubs from those shows.

1. Feb. 14 and 15, 1982 — Controversy Tour

San Francisco Civic Auditorium: This was Prince’s second ever tour stop in S.F. at what is now known as Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. And, as per the tour’s name, it was rife with controversy. Prince’s side-band The Time were performing so well that Prince reportedly worried that they were outshining him. The drama and backstage tension ended up imploding a month after his S.F. show at the tour’s last stop in Cinnicinati when Prince and some of the members of his band egged The Time off the stage. Towards the end of their set, Prince poured honey over Time bandmate Jerome Benton and dumped trash on him. Things escalated and guitarist Jesse Johnson was handcuffed to a wall-mounted coat rack and Prince proceeded to throw Doritos at him. After the show, the two bands partook in a vicious food fight backstage. The fighting continued after they returned to their hotel and Prince reportedly made Morris Day pay for all the damages, claiming he had started the feud.

Prince at Cow Palace in 1985.
  • Prince at Cow Palace in 1985.

2. Feb. 27 to March 5, 1985 — Purple Rain Tour

Cow Palace: For six straight nights, Prince played shows at the 12,000-seat Cow Palace, which, per the ticket’s

 request that attendees “wear purple,” was filled with fans decked out in the hue. While tickets were sold for $17.50, they were being scalped for as much as $100, an SF Chronicle article reports. On Prince’s final night at Cow Palace, he played 23 songs, including “When The Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain,” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Prince at The Warfield in 1986.
  • Prince at The Warfield in 1986.
Prince at Oakland Coliseum in 1988.
  • Prince at Oakland Coliseum in 1988.

3. Nov. 11, 1988 — Lovesexy Tour

Oakland Coliseum: Prince’s penchant for playing long sets began with this tour and he squeezed in a whopping 40 songs for his two-hour set at the Coliseum. The Lovesexy tour was one of Prince’s most expensive, and he ultimately lost money from it due to transportation and high production costs incurred by his elaborate stage props, which included a moving, multi-tiered stage, a basketball hoop, a fountain, trellis fences, and a full-scale replica of his Ford Thunderbird. (By the tour’s final leg in Japan in 1989, he reportedly broke even.) The show was divided into two acts, with older songs making an appearance in the first half, and newer songs, some of which were played acoustically on the piano,  in the second.

Prince at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in 1993.
  • Prince at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in 1993.
Prince at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in 1993.
  • Prince at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in 1993.

4. April 10 and 11, 1993: Act I Tour

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium: These shows marked Prince’s first return to the Bay in five years, as well as his last tour before he changed his name to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. The tour was in support of his album Love Symbol Album and featured the backing band The New Power Generation. The first half of the show focused on material from Love Symbol Album, as well as a few tracks from The New Power Generation’s recently released album Goldnigga. The second half of the show was reserved for Prince’s greatest hits, including “Purple Rain” and “1999.”

Prince at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 1993.
  • Prince at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 1993.

5. October 10, 1997 — Jam Of The Year Tour

Shoreline Amphitheater: This show was The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’s first outdoor performance in the Bay Area and his first time playing solo piano sets. Backed by The New Power Generation, he played 34 songs at the October show, most of them culled from the two albums he released in 1996,  Emancipation and Chaos and Disorder (not including the soundtrack that he wrote for the Spike Lee film Girl 6). The year before, Prince had left his label at Warner Bros. and married the dancer Mayte Garcia, who was 15 years his junior.

Prince at Shoreline Amphitheater in 1997.
  • Prince at Shoreline Amphitheater in 1997.

6. Dec. 3, 2000 — Hit N Run Tour

Ruby Skye: At this point, Prince had dropped the symbol and reverted to his original name. He was also still touring with The New Power Generation, though by then, the band’s roster was entirely different. For his show at Ruby Skye, which was announced mere weeks ahead of time, Prince was almost 90 minutes late, but he made up for it with a two-hour set. Both a saxophonist and the dancer-singer Geneva joined him onstage where he danced for the bulk of the show, as well as made three costume changes. With “Cream,” Prince launched into the first of a few guitar solos, even jumping atop speakers on both sides of the stage while strumming out notes.

7. May 19, 2007

Orpheum Theater: This one-off performance occurred a few weeks after Prince’s month-long residency at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas and two months after he headlined the half-time show for Super Bowl XLI. Tickets for this “cozy” show, sponsored by CitiAdvantage credit card, cost $225, and included opening sets by the Esovedo Family and Sheila E. Instead of playing many of his biggest hits, like “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry,” and “Raspberry Beret,” Prince opted for covers of older songs by  Aretha Franklin, Louis Armstrong, and Sly and The Family Stone.

8. Feb. 21, 23, and 24, 2011 — Welcome 2 America Tour

Oracle Arena: Like most of Prince’s later shows, this one was announced very last minute — as in five days before the first show. A few weeks earlier at the Grammy Hall of Famer’s Madison Square Garden show, Prince had invited Kim Kardashian onstage, before kicking her off because she refused to dance.. Tickets were being sold for as much as $250 for his Oracle Arena shows, which featured openers Larry Graham and Graham Central Station. On the last night he was in Oakland, Prince ditched the openers and ended up playing a three-hour set that included a surprise performance and duet with Shelia E.

9. April 23 and 24, 2013 — Live Out Loud Tour

DNA Lounge: For Prince’s Live Out Loud Tour, he played two shows a day at smaller venues in each city he visited. At DNA Lounge, which housed 900 people for the shows, Prince performed along with his backing girl band 3rdeyegirl and rocked an afro and pencil mustache. Instead of playing the hits, he played a lot of covers (like Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover,” The Cars’ “Let’s Go,” and an instrumental version of “Day Tripper” by the Beatles). In honor of Richie Havens’ death the day before, Prince also played two tribute songs to the late Woodstock artist. As usual, his sets were at least two hours long and the going rate was around $250 a ticket (or $6000 if you opted to sit in the V.I.P. area).

Prince catching a game at Oracle Arena in 2016.
  • Prince catching a game at Oracle Arena in 2016.

10. March 4, 2016 —  Piano and a Microphone Tour

Oracle Arena: After playing two surprise, back-to-back, and immediately sold out shows at Paramount Theater in Oakland the week before, Prince surprised the Bay (again) by announcing this second show at Oracle Arena (which also sold out in minutes). The night before, he’d attended a Warriors game at the venue, and while he was in town, he also hit up Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio (for a limoncello, which he sipped from a straw) and the Western Edition New American eatery Nopa. All four corners of the stage at this two-hour long  show were lit by a cluster of candles, and, as the tour name suggested, the show consisted solely of Prince, his microphone, and a piano. He played hits from a medley of albums, including Dirty Mind, Purple Rain, and his most recent release HITnRUN Part 2, and even did a cover of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain.” Perhaps the coolest aspects of the show were when he hopped on a bicycle and peddled around the audience and the fact that every member of the audience was handed a free CD of HITnRUN Part 2 when they left.

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Prince Dies at Age 57, Found at His Home in Minnesota

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 10:11 AM


Earlier today (April 21), Prince died at his Paisley Park home and studio. The artist was only 57-years-old. His death was confirmed by his publicist earlier this morning, according to AP

Last week, Prince was hospitalized after his plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Moline, Ill. At the time, a rep told TMZ that he had been battling a bad case of the flu. 

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Denise "Vanity" Matthews, Lead Singer of Vanity 6, Dies at 57

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 2:28 PM


Denise Katrina Matthews, who went by the name Vanity, passed away at the age of 57 in a Fremont hospital on Monday. The lead singer of the Prince-backed '80s girl group Vanity 6 had battled kidney failure for years, and more recently, an abdominal illness. 

Matthews created a GoFundMe page in Sept. 2014 to raise funds for her medical conditions, specificially sclerosing encapsulating peritontis, which she was diagnosed with last fall. On the site's page, she claimed that she wanted to republish her autobiography, Blame It On Vanity, to help fund the ongoing medical bills she had received for the 23 surgeries she had over the years and her continued three times a week dialysis. 

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

R.I.P. The Jacka: Thizzler Celebrates The Rapper's Life With a Month-Long Interview Series

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 10:32 AM


On Feb. 2, 2015, local Bay Area rap legend, The Jacka, was fatally shot at the age of 37. To commemorate the MC (born Dominick Newton, from Pittsburg), Thizzler is dedicating the month of February to him. "Jack History Month" features daily interviews with people who knew the rapper during his roughly 15-year career.

The Jacka started rapping in the late '90s with the Pittsburg crew Mob Figaz before launching his solo career in 2001. The prolific rapper released 14 solo albums and countless mixtapes, compilations, and collaborative albums prior to his death. He joined forces with a number of Bay Area rappers, like E-40, Mistah F.A.B., Berner, J. Stallin, and Yukmouth, and also collaborated with a slew of So-Cal big-names like Game, Jay Rock, and Nipsey Hussle.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Alien, Humanoid, Homo Superior: David Bowie Is Dead

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 11:26 AM


I never really thought that I would write “David Bowie is dead.” It’s not that I thought I might predecease my idol, who was exactly my age now when I was born; it’s that I half-figured he wouldn’t die so much as be assumed directly into outer space with an ambiguous epitaph like Aladdin Sane’s: “1947 - 2016 - 20?”

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Remembering Jean Ritchie: The Voice of America

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 4:38 PM

Jean Ritchie playing autoharp at the Florida Folk Festival - White Springs, 1976
  • Jean Ritchie playing autoharp at the Florida Folk Festival - White Springs, 1976
The first time I heard Jean Ritchie sing, I couldn’t believe my ears. I’d only been listening to folk music for a few months and my friend Lou, the guy who turned me onto Doc Watson, The Greenbriar Boys, and The New Lost City Ramblers, told me that he’d first heard the pickers he’d introduced me to on a program called Oscar Brand’s Folk Song Festival. The program was (and still is) broadcast on WNYC on Saturday nights. I became a regular listener. Brand introduced me to many artists that still inform my taste in music including The Clancy Brothers, Tommy Makem, Oscar Brown, Jr., and Jean Ritchie.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

[VIDEO] Watch B.B. King Play The Blues on San Francisco's Jazz Casual In 1968

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 4:35 PM

By now you've surely heard the sad news that B.B. King, the King of the Blues, died late Thursday at home in Las Vegas. He was 89.

King had many memories in San Francisco, including receiving his first-ever standing ovation (before playing a single note) at the Fillmore. We want to share another B.B. King San Francisco moment with you.

In 1968, King performed on National Education Television's Jazz Casual, a TV show hosted by longtime Chron jazz critic (and Rolling Stone founding editor) the late Ralph J. Gleason. The show was shot in San Francisco and produced by Richard Moore of KQED.

NET was the predecessor to PBS.

Watch B.B. in his prime in the clips below, playing the blues in San Francisco.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shannon Shaw on Lesley Gore: Her Songs Were "Declarations of Independence"

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 8:20 AM

Lesley Gore, 1946 - 2015.
  • Lesley Gore, 1946 - 2015.
Ed. note: Lesley Gore, one of the first female teen pop stars of the '60s, died Monday of cancer in her native New York. She was 68. The singer was many things to many people — Gore's coming out in her later years led to her championing of LGBT issues; a comeback album, Ever Since, was critically acclaimed in 2005.

Still, perusing the tributes to her online yesterday, a Facebook status from Shannon Shaw, of Shannon and the Clams — one of the Bay Area's best-loved singers, whose retro style owes plenty to the queens of the '60s — jumped out most of all. We asked Shannon to elaborate, and here's what she wrote back.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Last of the Psychedelic Pioneers: Guitarist Sam Andrew of Big Brother and the Holding Company Dies at 73

Posted By on Sun, Feb 15, 2015 at 2:36 PM

Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Sam Andrew center.
  • Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Sam Andrew center.

The first time I heard “Summertime,” it wasn’t Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s version from Porgy and Bess. It was on an 8-track tape of Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills that I’d dug out of a bargain bin at the Roses discount store in my small North Carolina hometown. And it was magical. In the mid-1970s, Big Brother’s “Summertime” sparked an obsession with the late-’60s San Francisco psychedelic sound that would steer me to albums by Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Country Joe and the Fish.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kev Choice on The Jacka: "He Was One of the Dons of Our Scene"

Posted By on Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 9:31 AM

The Jacka, 1977-2015
  • The Jacka, 1977-2015

[Ed. note: We'll be reaching out to the Bay Area hip-hop community to hear stories about The Jacka following the MC's tragic death last night following a shooting in Oakland. Here's the Town's own jazz/hip-hop impresario, Kev Choice — who told us "This is going to hurt for a minute."]

To say that The Jacka was revered in the Bay Area would be an understatement. In his over 15 years on the scene, he was one of the most prolific MCs in our region. He also had the rare ability to make music derived from street sensibilities but with a contemplative, reflective, and inspirational message that provoked aspirations beyond the street mentality. His smooth and melodic flow was as recognizable and distinctive as any in Bay Area hip-hop history. His collaborations with other artists — from Freeway, to Andre Nickitina, to Zion I, to countless up-and-coming artists local and nationwide — showed the depth and broad reach of his lyrical ability, which can not be overlooked.

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"