In 1988 I turned 22 years old. I lived in Amsterdam, had my dream job, was a bachelor and had quite a lot of friends and acquaintances around me, who were all very dear to me. It was also the year Prince released his genius tenth album Lovesexy and the accompanying tour that brought him to The Netherlands. On August 17th, 18th and 19th he performed at the Rotterdam stadium. An unexpected and beautiful encore was in the works. After the story on the best concert I ever witnessed, this is my story on the most special one.
What happened in the world in 1988?
The slow disappearing of doom, that had gradually started in 1986, had been executed completely. It had given way to, dare I say it, optimism.
Some of the main news events in 1988:
- In April The Netherlands officially had three television stations: Nederland 3 airs for the first time;
- The Boeing 747-400 makes its very first test flight;
- In May the maximum speed on the Dutch motorways is increased from 100 km/h to 120 km/h;
- Salman Rushdie releases his novel The Satanic Verses;
- George Bush sr. wins the American presidential elections;
- On December 9th the Intifada starts: the resistance against the state of Israel in the occupied territories;
- On December 21st 170 people die when Pan Am flight 103 explodes and crashes near Lockerbie (Scotland);
- Radical moslimgroup Al-Qaida is founded by Osama Bin Laden.
The optimism was omnipresent in The Netherlands. On June 25th, 1988, The Netherlands won the European Soccer Championship tournament in Germany after defeating the Soviet Union in the final. Striker Marco van Basten scored one of the most beautiful goals of all time during the final.
However, the most important match had already been played. In the semi-finals The Netherlands played against Germany (at that time still called West-Germany). On June 21st the ‘enemy’ was beaten on their own soil by the team made up of players like Ronald Koeman, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten. The Bijlmer, the Amsterdam district I lived in at the time, exploded. I clearly remember that from all the balconies toilet paper rolls were thrown to the ground, making the Bijlmer look like it had been completely covered with decorative items.
The day after the final the Dutch Soccer team was honored by an enthusiastic crowd in Amsterdam. Over one million people had traveled to the capital. The houseboats in the Amsterdam canals were almost ruined by the huge number of fans.
What happened in the music world in 1988?
Besides the top album Lovesexy by Prince, a great number of my favorite albums were released in that year: Public Enemy It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, The Waterboys Fisherman’s Blues, EPMD Strictly Business, R.E.M. Green, Timbuk 3 Eden Alley, Ice-T Power, Morrissey Viva Hate, N.W.A.Straight Outta Compton and Dutch own Fatal Flowers Johnny D. Is Back!.
In 1988 The Pixies and Nirvana started their journeys and the first part of the fantastic compilation series James Brown’s Funky People was released. Chet Baker (falls out of his Amsterdam hotel window), Divine, jazz-piano player Gil Evans, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitar player Hillel Slovak and Roy Orbison died in 1988.
What was my world like in 1988?
Midway through 1987 it became clear to me that my studies weren’t going to bring me what I wanted. I applied for a job at Concerto’s soul department and wasn’t hired. Luckily, the owner remembered my name. In August of 1987 I was a member of the Concerto staff, working at the greatest record store in Amsterdam. At the beginning of 1988 I worked at Concerto for 5 months and made some money. Much, very much, of my weekly salary went to music, which I was able to buy with an employee discount. So I did, with great abundance. I finally had the means to catch up. I was stationed at the second hand department of Concerto and had first access to whatever was bought from customers. I purchased lots and lots of great, essential music, for a good price.
Another major advantage was that I was able to build and maintain my Prince collection. During those times I almost completed my vinyl collection.
As written in my story on Lovesexy, I started buying bootlegs in 1988. The organizer of the Amsterdam record fairs was a steady customer at Concerto. In exchange for holding on to special 1960’s items for him, we gained free access to the fairs, prior to the official opening hours. That way I always had first choice with bootlegs. How convenient! The most important purchase in 1988 bootleg-wise was (obviously) The Black Album.
Besides Prince, I listened a lot to The Beatles, Neil Young, George Clinton, Parliament, Funkadelic, Bruce Springsteen and Sly & The Family Stone. I also bought many of the so-called Prince satellite acts, in some cases just to keep the Prince collection complete.
What happened before September 9th, 1988?
As explained in the definitive story on Lovesexy the album, Lovesexy the tour and Lovesexy the video, 1988 was centered around the tenth Prince album Lovesexy. His spiritual rebirth produced a new album and tour in record time. On August 17th, 18th and 19th I witnessed Prince at the Rotterdam stadium called ‘De Kuip’. Prince and the, until then anyway, best band he ever had, three nights in a row. The look of the tour was breathtaking, the stage and lighting actively contributed to the musical spectacle brought by the little genius from Minneapolis. I was completely in awe, for days and days (years actually). When the Prince entourage left The Netherlands on August 20th, all music lovers in the country were still shaking with excitement.
On August 26th, one week after the last show in The Netherlands, articles started appearing in the newspapers that Prince was going to add one extra show to the European leg of his tour. On September 9th the last European Lovesexy show was going to take place in Germany. By special request from Prince, tickets were to be sold to the fans in The Netherlands. The show was going to be filmed and broadcast the very same evening. Prince had grown impressed with the Dutch audience and its commitment and participation. Exactly what he wanted for the recordings.
What happened on September 9th, 1988?
Unfortunately, I can’t really remember how I got the tickets, but I do know we were going to Dortmund in a rented van with, amongst others, (namesake) Erwin, Mandy and my good friend Patrick. Before we could leave for Germany, we had to make a stop at Utrecht first, where we originally were going to board a bus (for an organized tour) that would take us to Dortmund. We got our tickets and steered the van towards Germany.
It was a beautiful summer’s day at the end of the great summer of 1988. I had seen Prince 3 times in Rotterdam, seen Bruce Springsteen for the first time and I had the time of my life with friends and colleagues at Concerto. Great times indeed. After arriving in Dortmund we went about the town for the rest of the day, had some drinks and ate some food before we headed to the venue. The Westfalenhallen in Dortmund is a great location.
Upon arrival it was immediately clear that this show was going to be different from all other shows. The hollering Holland, Holland, which also found its way onto the recordings that evening, started at the entrance to the hall. The Dutch made themselves heard and, influenced by the European Soccer Championship tournament, were not about to quit. Usually I don’t like that kind of (nationalist) sloganism (actually I despise it), but at the time I thought it was rather amusing that it took place in Germany. The significance of the victory over Germany in the semifinals was underlined once again.
After walking into the venue and arriving at our seats we were placed at the side where the basketball hoop was situated guaranteeing a great overall view. The atmosphere inside the venue was divine.
The lights dimmed and the boom – boom/boom beat to the opening song Erotic City signaled Prince’s arrival. In the meantime the entire audience stood on their chairs and Patrick had already fallen off. Even before the first bass notes hit the entire room had exploded. The Thunderbird came round the stage and stopped. Prince got out, smiles self-assured and walked to the center of the stage: Snare drum pounds on the 2 and 4 / All the party people, get on the floor / Bass!. And off we went. The regular, superior set of the Lovesexy Tour followed. The closer of that part, Anna Stesia, normally ended with a lengthy guitar solo, but due to a technical malfunction it wasn’t played this time.
At the regular shows the second part of the show immediately followed the first, but because of the television recordings, now approximately one half hour passed between the end of part 1 and the start of part 2. Filming went on during that half hour. A small part of that found its way into the original recordings, that were broadcast that same evening in many countries around the world. I am visible in one of those extra shots. Very quickly and very short, but I’m there (see the second last image in this article).
After the ‘break’ the second part of the show commenced and it was even more impressive than it had been at the Rotterdam shows. It was an ‘indoor’ show and the sound was phenomenal. Patrick and I had left our seats and danced along the isles and were getting closer and closer to the stage. During the encore Prince saw us and mimicked our movements. When the show closed and Prince, Sheila E and Cat drove by on the Thunderbird by the stage we were at arm’s length of the car.
Erotic City / Housequake / Slow Love / Adore / Delirious / Jack U Off / Sister / Adore (reprise) / I Wanna Be Your Lover / Head / A Love Bizarre / When You Were Mine / Blues In C (If I Had A Harem) / When You Were Mine (reprise) / Little Red Corvette / Controversy / Dirty Mind / Superfunkycalifragisexy / Controversy (reprise) / Bob George / Anna Stesia
Intermission / No / Lovesexy / Glam Slam / The Cross / I Wish U Heaven / I Wish U Heaven (part 2) / Kiss / Dance On
When 2 R In Love / Venus De Milo / Starfish And Coffee / Raspberry Beret / Condition Of The Heart / Strange Relationship / When 2 R In Love (reprise) / Three
Continuation part 2
Let’s Go Crazy / When Doves Cry / Purple Rain / 1999
After the show
When the show was over I was on a high. My friend Bram, whom I had met just one week before when he started working at Concerto, can still see me announcing that “my life was over, I had seen everything there was to see in life, it wouldn’t get any better than this”…
But it was not over yet. We still had to get home. The concert was broadcast on the radio. A peculiar experience to hear the show, that had just ended, on the radio in great sound quality!
When I was finally home in my Bijlmer apartment, morning had already started. My friend Mark-Otto had stayed at my house to record the show on video. After quickly seeing a part I went to bed.
As stated above, a longer break than usual was placed between the two parts of the show, due to the fact television recordings were made. Did that have any further impact? No, not at all. Still, there were 17 cameras and over 100 microphones installed to ensure the right images and sound were recorded. A huge undertaking.
The Dutch director Egbert van Hees talked over some of the camera positions with Prince and test-recorded Prince and band playing in the empty Westfalenhallen. At the Susan Rogers lectures in Rotterdam on May 26th and 27th, 2017, a little part of those test-recordings/rehearsals was shown. Very special, particularly because it demonstrated once again the way that band had been drilled. On the one and it all stopped. Stunning footage.
Van Hees, who died in 2017 and recorded quite a lot of concerts (among which Lionel Richie, Madonna, U2 and Tina Turner), regarded the Prince assignment to be the highlight of his career. In 1989, he was awarded the International Monitor Award for his work on those recordings.
The recordings were also used for the release of the video’s Lovesexy Live 1 and Lovesexy Live 2.
What happened after September 9th, 1988?
The official Prince collection was completed in record time and the bootleg collection grew ever more in significance and volume. Hundreds/thousands of Dutch guilders were spent in the illegal markets.
On February 7th, 1989, I received my first two bootlegs on compact-disc: The Black Album and the recordings of the Dortmund show: Love Sexy Live in Germany. Both items were very expensive: ƒ 125,- (€ 56,72) a piece.
I played the latter thousands of times. Year after year the (double) cd was played multiple times every week. On April 16th, 2002, I purchased the remastered version (also a bootleg): Live In Dortmund 1988. The video held up all those years. On July 12th, 2005 I bought the (bootleg) DVD Lovesexy Live.
Connection to The Netherlands
After the Lovesexy Tour, Prince’s connection to The Netherlands was more intense than ever before. The first new Prince tour, the 1990 Nude Tour, had its world premier in The Netherlands. In 1992 the Diamonds And Pearls Tour had no less than 7 (!) stops in The Netherlands. When the number of European shows declined, the love lessened as well. In later years Belgium seemed to be Prince’s favorite European country. Not only did he perform more there, his shows were more driven (and longer). The exception to the rule were the three nights in a row during the Dutch North Sea Jazz Festival in 2011.
September 9th, 1988: a day to remember. The same can be applied to the concert. I’m lucky enough to relive that specific evening time and again. Highly recommended!
- 30 years ago, the best show I ever witnessed (08/18/1986)
- Prince makes his debut: For You
- 1999: Prince on his way to the top
- Prince is victorious (once again) with Sign O’ The Times
- The Black Album: Prince gets funky
- Lovesexy: Prince’s crowning achievement
- Prince & The New Power Generation – Diamonds And Pearls
- Prince & The New Power Generation – O(+>
- Prince – Emancipation
- Prince – Crystal Ball / The Truth / Kamasutra
- Prince – The Rainbow Children
- One Nite Alone… Solo piano and voice by Prince
- Prince – Xpectation
- Prince – C-Note
- Prince – N.E.W.S.
Lovesexy Tour image: princevault.com
Circular cruise Dutch Soccer team Amsterdam (26-06-1988) image: parool.nl
Concerto image: concerto.amsterdam
Prince – Lovesexy image: allmusic.com
Announcement in Variety, /08/31/1988 image: twitter.com/housequake
Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Westfalenhallen Dortmund & Prince – Lovesexy Live – Video stills afbeeldingen: pinterest.com
Prince – Lovesexy Tour Dortmund – Start image: apoplife.nl/prince.org
Prince – Lovesexy Tour Dortmund – 1999 image: prince.org
Prince – Lovesexy Tour Dortmund – Rehearsal image: npo.nl
Prince – Lovesexy Live reclame image: onbekend
Prince – Lovesexy Tour – Dortmund – Bootlegs image: discogs.com/apoplife.nl
Prince – Lovesexy Live – Intro image: bilibili.com