Right On! Prince
Birthdays were made for reminiscing, and the 52nd anniversary of Prince’s arrival on planet earth has got me strolling down the Blackadelic Pop Memory Lane. In the years before the internet was able to microwave instant celebrities daily, and glossy magazines like VIBE examined Black pop in a more adult fashion, the only solace for kids who wanted to know more about their music idols were the teen magazines.
Yet, while much has been written about the now-defunct 16 magazine and its maverick editor Gloria Stavers, who Bruce Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh claims, “basically invented rock and pop culture journalism as we know it today,” not much has been done to document the sepia-toned Right On! magazine and its underrated journalist/editor Cynthia Horner.
While many mainstream pop journalists, as well as urban writers at VIBE, XXL and The Source often poke fun at fanzine writers as well as the magazines themselves, there is no denying Cynthia Horner’s contributions to the canon of Black pop journalism.
Indeed, in the years before BET/VH1 reality shows introduced us to crackhead mothers and dysfunctional family drama, the “cozy ghetto exclusivity of the black teen slicks,” as cultural critic Carol Cooper once described them, was all we had.
As a child of the ’70s, I started buying the magazine for its many features on the Jackson 5, which showed the fans behind-the-scenes shots of the brothers lounging at home or standing beside Bill Cosby on the set of their latest television special. However, as the Jackson boys got older and their popularity began to wane, Right On! began focusing on other artists to fill its pages including the Sylvers, Switch, and Prince.
While I credit my cousin Marie for turning me on to the little man from Minneapolis in 1979 when she played me the bugged track “Bambi” from Prince’s self-titled second album, it was Cynthia Horner’s early interviews and exclusive photo shoots that fueled my Black pop culture curiosity.
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