Gabriel Sanchez meticulously emulates the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend with prolific guitar solos, flashy dance moves and an engaging vocal range
Franklin – From the curled wig and ruffled shirt to the prolific guitar solos and flashy dance moves, Gabriel Sanchez engages audiences in The Prince Experience, where he meticulously emulates the legendary musician with a critically acclaimed performance. Sanchez and his band returns to JD Legends for an encore concert Saturday. Dayton area drummer and DJ combo Jfrost 5, and Velvet Crush Unplugged will open the evening at 6 p.m.
Sanchez does not remember a time when music was not an integral part of his life. A songwriter who has played the guitar, keyboards and drums since childhood – and features a vocal range like Prince showcased – the Texas-born and Milwaukee-raised entertainer was initially reluctant when he asked to portray Prince in a local theater production in 2002.
“A friend of mine was part of that local theater, and they planned to produce Purple Rain live as a play,” Sanchez explained. “He was familiar with my music background and approached me about playing the role of Prince, but I said no because I had never acted, and at that point I had not performed any of Prince’s music.
“I did tell him, ‘Let me know when the show debuts, and I’ll buy tickets,” Sanchez added. “I love Prince and I love that movie, but there’s no way I can do that. It sounds too hard.’”
Fortunately, for the hundreds of thousands who have seen The Prince Experience over the last 15 years, Sanchez changed his mind and appeared in the show. He spent weeks watching Purple Rain, studying the way Prince spoke and moved, and learned to play his guitar solos by ear. And the role stuck. The response to the production was so positive that Sanchez was inspired to create The Prince Experience. The elaborate tribute act is complete with lighting, costumes, a full band and backing singers.
Sanchez’s portrayal of Prince is astonishingly like the like Rock and Roll Hall of Famer himself. Sanchez, who also writes his own songs, comfortably covers the wide vocal range heard in Prince’s songs, but it was the dancing that was especially challenging to master.
“I was really shy dancing in front of people, and everyone who knows me knew that” Sanchez said. “I could dance with the appeal like Prince behind closed doors when I was at home by myself getting ready and had music on, but it took really stepping out of my comfort zone to show that on stage, and now it is natural since I am fully in character.
Once he perfected the vocal range and learned the dance moves, Sanchez immersed himself in mastering Prince’s iconic guitar solos.
“Before The Prince Experience, I was more of a rhythm player so I had to completely learn all the guitar solos,” Sanchez said. “Someone told me, ‘If you can’t play the solos, we’ll have someone on the side of the stage and we’ll have them play.’ I said, ‘No, it has to be live It wouldn’t feel right any other way.
“I worked hard and spent hour upon hour learning those solos, learning the vocals, and immersing myself in the essence of Prince with his movements and mannerisms,” he added. “This is such real music from one of the most talented entertainers in history, and especially now that he is gone, it is important to me that I reflect that music in detail in every performance.”
This is the third time JD Legends has hosted The Prince Experience, and the venue is one of Sanchez’s favorites.
“We feed off the energy of the crowd,” he said. “There is a positive and inspiring vibe at JD Legends, and that drives us on stage.”
For more information, visit www.jdlegends.com.