If you are a longtime Prince fan the name Neal Karlen should invoke warm feelings because he was the first, and I would argue the last writer that gained Prince's hard-earned trust and loyalty.
In the wake of Prince's untimely death Karlen revealed that while he intentionally stopped covering Prince so as not to pigeonhole himself as "that guy who covers Prince" their unlikely friendship continued via phone conversations which typically occurred in the wee hours of the morning when Prince would ring up Karlen to talk about, well...stuff.
In the December 2016 issue of GQ, Karlen recounted an agreement they had made. "Three years ago, we had promised each other what we'd do, depending on who went first. He said, 'Will you write just one thing for the hometown paper?' He suggested that. The agreement was, if I died first—I was sure, I was positive, he'd be like B. B. King and be playing at 93—he was gonna play an hour unannounced at my high school, St. Louis Park High School. And I knew he'd play three hours. I hadn't written about him for decades. I stayed up two nights straight, which I've never done in my life. The piece was the hardest thing I ever wrote in my life."
Neal Karlen, thank you for being his friend.