1999 – The Twentieth Century ends

Technically, the Twentieth Century did not end for another year, at the end of the year 2000. But in the popular imagination, the last day of 1999 was the last day of the millennium. A day when many a religious – and one big secular – apocalypse was counted down to, to hit at the stroke of midnight. But neither the Second Coming nor the Y2K bug proved to be that big a threat.

The Twentieth Century was over with, and now, the 21st Century – the future – could begin. Only it turned out that if apocalypse wasn’t just around the corner, neither was utopia. And only 21 months into the new century, we’d all be dragged into a brand new endless Cold War when we’d just finally shaken off the last one.

Referenced in:

1999 — Prince
L.A. Money Train — Rollins Band
I Have Not Been to Oxford Town — David Bowie

Prince’s Afterworld

  • Type: Heaven
  • Origin: Let’s Go Crazy
  • Admission: unclear, but possibly everyone

The Afterworld, if we are to take the purple one at his word – and who is to say he has not visited this realm in the course of his shamanic journeys? – is a magical place. We know very little about it, other than that it is a place of never ending happiness, and, given that the sun shines day and night, possibly on the inside of a Dyson Sphere.

By implication from the rest of the song, it is reached via an elevator of some description, and modern psychiatry holds no clues as to where this elevator may be found. Also, a purple banana is involved somehow. Possibly this is the ambrosia of the Afterworld.

As afterlives go, you could do worse – the Afterworld is the veritable land of good trips, a psychedelic playground. However, its prophet is a capricious man who seems to be over-compensating for insecurities regarding his height, and this choice as prophet does not speak highly of the judgement of its gods.

1996 – Jonathan Melvoin dies of a drug overdose

Jonathan Melvoin was the brother of Susannah and Wendy Melvoin, who were members of Prince’s New Power Generation. He had worked with Prince, and also as a member of the Dickies. At the time of his death, he was touring with the Smashing Pumpkins – Melvoin was a skilled keyboardist.

His death was caused by a heroin overdose, not his first. Melvoin was survived by a wife and child. The Smashing Pumpkins, who had already fired Melvoin for his drug use at the time of his death, were not invited to his funeral.

Referenced in:

Jonathon – Wendy & Lisa
Angel – Sarah McLachlan
The Love We Make – Prince