With everyone still talking about the death of Prince on the networks in a near breathless detail, it gave me a weird sense of deja vu that I’ve only had one other time in my life.
I was at home on February 1, 2003 in the early morning hours. I knew the space shuttle Columbia was set to land just past 9am. The cable news outlets were preparing to briefly cover the landing, or so I thought. I read on the bottom of the TV screen that Mission Control in Houston had lost contact with the shuttle minutes prior to landing, which began ringing alarm bells in my head. I knew from following the landings that there is usually a blackout period when the shuttle returns to Earth, but that time should have come and gone by that point.
Then the landing time of 9:16am came and went, still no shuttle. Commentators like Jay Barbree on MSNBC (who I once talked to in my radio travels, decent man) and Miles O’Brien on CNN were beginning to put Columbia and the fallen shuttle Challenger in the same sentence. Something was wrong, but what, and where would it come down, and in how many pieces?
The rest of the day was a blur. That day in February, to me, very much resembled January 28, 1986. The three anchors were the same: Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather on ABC, NBC, and CBS respectively. The facts slightly different, but as was the case in 1986, a loss of all seven members of the crew, each time five men and two women.
Prince passing felt very similar to me to Michael Jackson’s passing. MJ died on a Thursday in June 2009 right after Farrah Fawcett had been buried, Prince died on a Thursday a few hours after pro wrestler Joan “Chyna” Laurer had passed in California. In both MJ and Prince’s cases, there seemed to be warnings the each was not well in the time leading up to the passing of each rock/pop legend, but only fully decipherable until both had respectively died.
Not to mention the “King Of Pop” had two sons named Prince, which is somewhat odd.
Another odd fact, Prince mentions in his 1987 song “Sign O’ The Times” the following lyric:
Is it silly, no?
When a rocket blows and, and everybody still wants to fly
Some say man ain’t happy truly until a man truly dies
Oh why, oh why?
In a way, everything ties together when you really look at things.
Much like that day in 2003, Thursday was a bit of a blur to me. Even though there were marked differences in the lives touched and now changed, it felt like generally it was the same script, a story I didn’t want to relive again, but a reality that will now be there eternally.