Tampa saxophonist toured with Prince while in school

Haley Hinds reports

- Prince's iconic music will live on forever, not only through his recordings, but through the people who played with him.

One of those performers is a Tampa native, who had the once-in-a lifetime opportunity to tour the world with Prince as part of his horn section.

BK Jackson is a few months shy of graduating from Florida A & M University. It took him a little longer than four years, but he has a pretty good excuse.

"Sophomore year of college," Jackson said, "I get a phone call from Marcus. He said, 'hey man, Prince is looking for a young horn section. You want to be a part of of it?' I said, 'yes!'"

The Blake High School graduate grabbed his saxophone and jumped onboard, under his mom's one condition: he had to finish college.

"I did continue to go to school and tour with Prince at the same time," Jackson said.

Talk about a course load. He went from classroom to rehearsal room, then to sold out concerts and late night TV.

Jackson said he will never forget playing until dawn at an MTV VMA Awards show after party.

"We start the show at 1 a.m.," Jackson said. "Around 4 a.m., we are halfway into Prince's set. And, Prince yells to the audience, 'ya'll not tired yet?' And, of course, they scream 'no!' He said, 'I've got hits for days. We will be here all night long.'"

"We played until the sun came up that day," Jackson recalled.

Over the course of three years, Prince went from music legend to Jackson's music mentor.

"He really cared about the world," Jackson said. "He cared about people. He cared about what really mattered in life. Playing with Prince was a blessing and a curse. You start with Prince. How do you go up from Prince? He's your favorite musician's favorite musician."

The news of Prince's death didn't seem real. Jackson said it just didn't seem possible.

"We laugh and joke and say all the time, we almost thought this man was immortal," Jackson said.

Jackson honored his life in one of the best ways he could, performing "Purple Rain" at FAMU's graduation ceremony.

Only Prince can turn a commencement into a concert.

"His legacy was so great, even while he was here on Earth," Jackson said. "But, he's in a better place now and we have a lot to remember him with."

Jackson is touring with Hall and Oates. You can catch him May 21 in Tampa at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater.

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