NEW YORK — “It’s the end of a generation,” David Falk said, as he placed an Amaretto iced coffee on the counter. “Just like [David] Bowie and all the other artists who are no longer with us.”
Hundreds gathered in Minneapolis, Manhattan, and cities across the world to pay their respects to legendary pop artist Prince, who died on Thursday at his Minnesota estate. He was 57.
Falk, 26, who works as a barista at Eataly in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, was among those mourning Prince’s passing.
In Brooklyn, filmmaker and director Spike Lee had organized an impromptu block party, where hundreds assembled at his bar, named 40 Acres, located in Fort Greene. Prince had created the soundtrack for Lee’s 1996 film Girl 6. The event mirrored a similar one held in London, dubbed the Brixton Street Party, immediately following the death of David Bowie.
Meanwhile, at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater, the mood was both somber and celebratory as thousands made their way to West 125th Street, where Prince’s music was blaring to a huge crowd of his fans and supporters as they danced, laughed and cried in unison honoring the life of a man who had touched their own in so many different ways.
“Everything about Prince, anything he touched is incomparable,” Tyetta Meachem, 38, told Breitbart News as she held up a signed and framed black-and-white picture of him from a scene in his movie Purple Rain. She told Breitbart News that her favorite Prince song is “When Doves Cry,” citing the intensity of the lyrics.
“It gives me freedom to be myself. And Prince was like a dove in his own sense. He was a shy little birdie who came out and bloomed and flew away with it. There’s no way to compare him” with anyone else, she said, adding her view that Prince was even “bigger than Michael Jackson. “Note it. There’s no comparison. Prince is Prince.”
“It’s a sad moment right now,” Tyrone Clark, 47, said. “Like Michael Jackson, Prince was a genius in music.”
Prince had performed thrice at the Apollo: in March 1993, June 2009 and October 2010. His last concert in New York took place on March 18. It was a private concert at Avenue, located in the city’s Meatpacking District. His final two performances took place last week in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Apollo had changed its marquee to read “In Honor of the Beautiful One” and “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
Coach Nicole Rodriguez, 45, who resides in Harlem, was also at the Apollo Theater, celebrating Prince’s life. “He inspired a lot of the things that I do in my life. I am someone who likes to do things against the grain. Prince was obviously against the grain and we have to love him for that and for making sure that people like me feel comfortable going against the grain.”
Rodriguez moved to Harlem from Texas 15 years ago. Asked what inspired the move, she told Breitbart News it was the Harlem Renaissance — an artistic explosion that took place between the end of the first World War and lasted into the mid-1930s in the area.
Two minutes shy of 11 p.m., the Apollo Theater stopped playing Prince’s music, prompting the crowd to chant “we want Prince! We want Prince!”
A man named Nick, who plays with a group of drummers outside the Apollo, had been present at the theater since 7 p.m. “That’s the new New York,” he told Breitbart News. “Stuff here used to go on until the wee hours of the night.”
Artist Mark Gaines, who was selling prints of a drawing of Prince’s face he had made in 2014, shared a memory with Breitbart News.
Gaines said he was working at the Aldine Theater on 20th and Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the 1980s when he saw Prince in person for the first time. The theater is now a CVS. He said it was the premiere of Prince’s movie Purple Rain, adding “it was around 11:30 at night and ironically it was drizzling. Isn’t that something?”
Barretta Davis, 32, gave his own version of a Prince tribute to Breitbart News:
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.