Prince death prompts reaction from Atlanta concert community, Fox Theatre

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Prince performs on Dec. 25, 1984 at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minn. (David Brewster/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
Prince performs on Dec. 25, 1984 at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minn. (David Brewster/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Prince performs on Dec. 25, 1984 at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minn. (David Brewster/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Exactly one week ago, Prince performed what would be his final two public concerts.

Those shows at the Fox Theatre – postponed from April 7 when the musician abruptly canceled due to illness – were presented by Atlanta promoter Rival Entertainment.

On Thursday, Lucy Freas, partner and senior talent buyer at Rival, said they were “devastated” by the loss of such a prolific talent.

Prince died Thursday at his Paisley Park recording studio. He was 57.

“It was an honor to work with Prince and his team to bring two unforgettable shows to Atlanta and make memories we will forever cherish. May he rest in peace and his legacy live on forever through his music,” Freas told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Also Thursday, Allan Vella, president and CEO of the Fox Theatre, commented that, “Prince was a music pioneer, innovator and cultural icon. His music moved and inspired many, including the fans that were able to join him as he took the stage for his final performances last week at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. We, along with the world, mourn the loss of a music legend.”

Prince performed 12 concerts at the Fox during his career, including the pair last week.

The music icon downplayed reports of ill health after his plane made an emergency landing on the way back to Minnesota after his second Fox show in the early hours of April 15. On Saturday, he made a brief appearance at his Paisley Park studios and told a small group of fans, “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.”

But Prince apparently still wasn’t feeling well earlier this week, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the singer was in talks to play a pair of surprise shows at their Fox Theatre on April 18.

The promoter of that show, Steve Litman of Steve Litman Presents, told the Post-Dispatch that everything was set to go – the artwork, the press releases, the tickets – but Prince had suddenly taken ill and didn’t want the shows announced, fearing a repeat of his Atlanta postponements.

Prince was notorious for setting his own schedules and thrived on last-minute announcements.

“He is the only artist I know of at that level that could sell out arenas with five days’ notice,” said Peter Conlon, president of Live Nation Atlanta.

Conlon recalled trying to wrangle the elusive star for Music Midtown in recent years, but Prince’s preference for hit-and-run performances was a hindrance.

When Prince performed at The Tabernacle in 2000, Conlon spent some time with the musician backstage.

“He was an interesting guy. Brilliant. A genius on so many levels, and such an incredible performer. His performances were mesmerizing,” Conlon said. “With certain artists, it’s not about the money anymore. They need to see their music performed and see people’s reaction to it. They need to have that back from the audience.”

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