On the Beat: 5/3/16

Where were you when?

By Jim Bucher

Do you ever relive memories? You know, certain things good and bad, which are seared in your brain and clear as day?

For me it was when President Reagan was shot. We were in Sarasota, Florida, on a family trip. My dad refused to turn the TV on, determined to have a relaxing week with the outside world turned off.

So, the four of us—mom, dad, my brother and yours truly—headed to the beach right outside our rented condo’s sliding glass door. Funny thing was it during spring break 1981 and the state was packed with snowbirds, college revelers and the like, but not a soul was stirring, not even a mouse. Did we enter the Twilight Zone? Nope, everyone was inside this beautiful day glued to the TV.

I’ll never forget.

Just like other ‘moments’ frozen in the cranium of memories: Elvis’ death, the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion, John Lennon’s assassination. You can’t just hit CTRL-ALT- DEL to reboot your brain; our human hard drive won’t allow it.

This brings me to my latest time stamp—and betting this is the case for millions of others, too. Where, when and what I was doing with the news of Prince’s death.

Immediately my internal file system begins to recall all his great hits from the ’80s and what I was doing at the time.

“1999,” “Purple Rain,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Sign o’ the Times,” “U Got the Look” and on and on.

I was a fan—not die hard, but a fan. His later work I never really got into. One of my best friends on the whole planet, though, I know for a fact was struggling.

Fran Charles is and always will be “one of my boys.”

My colleague in the 1990s at WDTN 2. He, a sports anchor/reporter, me, a news photographer at the time, became a working team and friends away from the newsroom.

Charles moved on to bigger and better things: WNBC in New York City, HBO Sports, The Golf Channel, NFL Network and, currently, studio host for MLB Network.

During our long drives to sports stories around the region or spring training in Florida with the Reds, Charles always had Prince on his playlist. At that time, it was CDs or cassette tapes, of course.

Charles would expound on the genius of his artistry, pointing out many things I didn’t know, in deep conversation and thought.

So, I knew he’d be devastated upon hearing the news. “I don’t even know what to say,” Charles writes in a text. “Dude, it absolutely sucks. I’m sick.”

Charles was on the way to work when the story broke.

“I literally had to pull over to get confirmation,” he tells me. “Buch, you have to understand; Prince has been a part of my life since I was 10. He had me at hello from his first album For You. And unlike most artists, Prince couldn’t get his new material out fast enough. Releasing an album a year or so, not to mention his infamous B-sides.”

The late Dick Clark said it best: “Music is the soundtrack of our lives.”

“Much of my life’s memories are measured by his music,” Charles says. “I can hear a song and remember exactly what was happening in my life at the time. It’s like losing a brother.

“I was fortunate to see Prince perform live double-digit times in small personal venues and big arenas,” he continues. “It was amazing to watch him go from playing the guitar to the bass to the piano to the drums so effortlessly, not to mention in perpetual dancing motion and jumping off risers. I feel badly for people who only think of Prince as a guy who wore high heels and mascara.”

Prince Rogers Nelson was (it’s weird using past tense) an artist who broke new ground, didn’t follow a path, but like Lewis and Clark, drew the map for others to follow and did it in his own unique style.

“No one questions Steven Tyler’s look or fashion sense. This isn’t hyperbole,” Charles says. “Prince was the most talented all around artist, singer, arranger, composer, writer, performer to ever live. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who could do everything as well as Prince could. We’ll never ever see that again. Thank God for the volume of music that will live on. Thank God for Prince.”

You wonder how much more our brains can take. Is there room for additional pivotal points in our human hard drives?

Sadly, yes.

Buch

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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