Prince's bassist joins Columbus Symphony for tribute show

Imagine having a superstar musician and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer as one of your biggest fans.

Andrew Gouche, bassist and former musical director for singer Chaka Khan, knows that experience. In 2011, he and Khan opened up for some of Prince's shows, and one night the legendary artist came backstage looking for Gouche.

“He was really giving it up, really complimenting what I did with [Khan's] arrangements,” Gouche said recently by phone. “And then every time after that, when we were opening up for him, he would be on the side of the stage watching me play.”

It was only a matter of time before Prince recruited Gouche to work with him, and a nearly three-year whirlwind of recording, 12-hour rehearsals and touring followed.

“Being there in Minnesota at Paisley Park, we'd go into work every day around 1 or 2 [p.m.] and you never knew what you were going to be doing when you got there,” Gouche said. “I did a lot of recording [and] I didn't even realize some of the stuff I did with him was on his last album until [a music magazine] called me after he passed and wanted to talk to me about the work that I had done.”

Gouche's time with Prince will come in handy when the bass player joins other Los Angeles-based musicians, singer Mackenzie Green and the Columbus Symphony for “A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Prince,” on Saturday, June 17 at the Columbus Commons.

Attendees can expect to hear Prince's most beloved hits, from “Purple Rain” to “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” at the show, which kicks off the symphony's 2017 “Picnic with the Pops” season.

“All the symphonic instruments are beautiful,” Gouche said. “And to hear the marriage between what [Prince] did and an orchestra … just makes it even bigger-sounding. It's really epic to hear.”

“I really feel like he would have loved to hear this,” continued Gouche, who also said it still seems “weird” that Prince is gone, even more than a year after his death.

“All I ever saw was Prince living this really healthy lifestyle. I actually lost 30 pounds when I got the gig because he inspired me,” said Gouche, who was only a year younger than the late musician. “I said, ‘If he could do it then I could do it, too.'”

And, of course, Prince inspired Gouche musically.

“His work ethic was really incredible,” Gouche said. “I had the utmost respect for him because he always demanded excellence.”