Summerfest remembers Prince

Summerfest remembers Prince

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Prince at SummerfestCourtesy Summerfest

Prince at Summerfest, 2001


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.”

Don Smiley

Summerfest CEO Don Smiley

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.”

88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Superstar played Big Gig in 2001, 2004

Summerfest’s President and CEO, Donald Smiley, shares his thoughts about Prince’s passing.

Prince’s Milwaukee concerts

1980 — MECCA
1981 — MECCA
1983 — MECCA
1997 — Bradley Center
2000 — Milwaukee Auditorium
2001 — Marcus Amphitheater, Summerfest
2004 — Marcus Amphitheater, Summerfest
PrinceCourtesy Milwaukee Journal archives.

Prince at MECCA in 1980.