Tampa Bay area man talks about touring with his mentor, Prince

Photo courtesy Bernard Jackson

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – His dreams came true at the tender age of 20. Fresh out of high school in Tampa, Bernard Jackson, known as “BK,” got the opportunity of a lifetime, one that would change his world forever.

Photo courtesy Bernard Jackson
Photo courtesy Bernard Jackson

The story plays out like a plot in a movie, one that sounds almost too good to be true. And, it all began in Minneapolis.

RELATED: Pop superstar Prince found dead

Music icon Prince was known in the industry as a pioneer, an innovator. He had a knack for discovering young talent. It just so happens, he found that talent in the Tampa Bay area several years ago.

Prince saw a Blake High School graduate playing the saxophone in a video and insisted on meeting the young man immediately. BK couldn’t believe it.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, OK. Whatever.’ I just didn’t really believe it, to be honest with you.”

He thought, “Prince?” The Prince? Moments later, his doubts were dismissed.

BK was on a plane to Minnesota to meet the ultimate musician. Then, in the blink of an eye, BK became a citizen of the world and went on tour with Prince.

“Working with Prince was a lot of fun for a lot of different reasons. Number one, musically, you are working with an icon, somebody who embodied music,” BK told News Channel 8.

Remembering Prince: Listen to some of his biggest hits

Photo courtesy Bernard Jackson
Photo courtesy Bernard Jackson
Photo courtesy Bernard Jackson
Photo courtesy Bernard Jackson

For three years, BK traveled the globe with Prince and the band. They went to to places that included Sweden, Switzerland, New York and Los Angeles. BK says he learned a lifetime of knowledge in those years. He jokes and calls the experience Paisley University, a nod to the Minnesota musician.

BK tells News Channel 8 Prince changed his life, acting as both a mentor and a friend. The death of this legend, announced Thursday, still hasn’t sunk in for the young musician. The person who believed in him most is now gone.

“It’s surreal. The majority of me wants to believe it’s not real. It’s just very sad,” BK said.

He’s still touring but is missing his mentor terribly. “I’m dedicating my show tonight in Panama City to him. He really did change my life,” BK told us.

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