Don Smiley remembers Prince well.
It was in 2004, when Prince was inducted into the Summerfest Hall of Fame. Smiley had just taken his new job at Summerfest.
“I just found him to be so humble and a gentlemen,” Smiley recalls. “Very shy, but a very nice man. He shunned the limelight except when he was on stage. When he was onstage, he obviously lit it up.”
Prince performed twice at Summerfest — in 2001 and 2004 — and he was welcome to return any time.
“We had a standing offer with Prince,” Smiley says. “But he was a worldwide superstar, and it came down to scheduling.
“He was a phenomenal musician, signer, songwriter and artist. It’s tragic,” Smiley says.
“We’re very saddened whenever there’s a passing of any artist, but certainly an artist of this magnitude, and at such a young age, this is particularly sad and tragic.”
Smiley said it was too soon to say whether Summerfest would honor Prince at this year’s festival. “We haven’t had a chance to discuss that yet.”
Summerfest’s President and CEO, Donald Smiley, shares his thoughts about Prince’s passing.