June 7th is obviously an important date in the Prince calendar, but this year it also marks a significant milestone in Housequake history – it will be 25 years to the day that the Housequake fansite was born.
Predating even the venerable Prince.org web forum, Housequake.com established itself as a place for discerning and thoughtful fans to congregate and discuss all things purple.
We were not always beloved by the man himself – he had a somewhat ‘strange relationship’ with us. We’d been made aware that he often browsed the site and enjoyed the more serious and nuanced discussions of his music (he’d even have his people send us the occasional exclusive), but on occasions, he’d become frustrated with us as well. We were never going to be as sycophantic as the likes of the short-lived official NPGMC website forum, and it was perhaps difficult for him to see that we allowed people to express opinions that weren’t just a collection of fulsome and exaggerated veneration.
Most famously, things came to a head in 2007 when Prince decided to take legal action against a collection of fansites including Housequake for posting photos of him (not bootlegs, contrary to rumors – we’ve never sanctioned the posting of bootlegs, only their discussion). This led to various fansites coming together to form PrinceFansUnited.com in solidarity over Prince’s treatment of them. Within a couple of days, Prince himself responded by dusting off a vault track and re-recording it with some playful ‘diss’ lyrics. He supplied it directly to the PFU site to stream online (The song was initially known as PFUnk, before later being released as F.U.N.K.) and at the same time, the lawsuits were dropped.
Around 2009 Housequake.com would decide to close its main website and discussion forums. Partly this was the result of the bad feelings left over from the lawsuit (other fansites would also close around this time never to return), but also the web was evolving, and the dawn of social media meant that the nature of online discussion was changing.
In 2011 Housequake was reborn in a more relevant and accessible format as a Facebook page. Although many still mourned the loss of the discussion forums of old, it was increasingly obvious that large social media platforms were going to be the place the majority of fans would gather together to talk about their love of Prince’s music. Since then Housequake has established a presence on other social media platforms as well (Twitter, Instagram) with an aim to inform and involve fans in the latest goings-on in the world of Prince, and in 2016 the Housequake.com domain was resurrected to act as a home for in-depth articles and interviews.
Much has changed since Housequake first sprang to life back in 1997. For one thing, the artist the site was dedicated to didn’t even have a pronounceable name when we launched (fortunately, it would only be a couple of years before he returned to his original moniker, not that anyone online referred to him as anything other than Prince). We’ve been around through the launch of countless albums and live tours, and through periods where it wasn’t ‘fashionable’ to say you were a Prince fan. The 2004 Musicology tour was arguably the beginning of the resurgence in his popularity and prompted a reassessment of his career by many. The stigma and ridicule that had been heaped upon him due to his previous name change finally subsided, and the general public started to realize what long-term fans had known all along – this was a man whose talent and contribution to modern music were immense and profound.
Undoubtedly, the biggest and most tragic change over this period would be the loss of Prince himself. Even though we’ve passed the sixth anniversary of his death, it still seems unreal to think that he’s gone. On an even more personal note, the Housequake team said goodbye to one of its own just last year with the sad loss of long-term member and unofficial ‘Parade-era expert’ Marika. We cannot celebrate 25 years without acknowledging the incredible contribution she made to Housequake, particularly when it came to hunting down obscure and little-seen photos from Prince’s history.
What continues though is the music. We are so fortunate to be fans of an artist who crammed so much into his life that, even after his untimely death, the amount of studio and live recordings still awaiting release is seemingly endless. Over the past few years, we’ve been treated to incredible amounts of previously unheard archive material (in stark contrast to other acts of his era whose musical output never remotely came close to Prince’s prolific outpourings). What is even more astounding, though, is the quality of much of this discarded material. Many of the songs Prince deemed not good enough or unsuitable for his released albums would be considered essential releases by other artists.
So, as we celebrate 25 years, there’s still much to look forward to, and it’s only fitting that we take this opportunity to give thanks to the person without whom the Housequake website (oh, and some obscure song that happens to share our name*) wouldn’t exist… Prince.
In Funk We Trust,
The Housequake Team
*Shut up already, damn!
As part of Housequake’s 25th Anniversary celebration, we’re giving away a collection of Prince-themed icons for use with Mac & Windows computers. Courtesy of Reverend.