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Sunday , September 26 2021

Pink music’s ‘most’ radio-friendly rebel

Pink poses for photographers at a ceremony honoring her with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Feb 5, in Los Angeles. (AP)

If you ever wondered how Alecia Moore became Pink, look no further than her backside. That’s right, her rosy butt cheeks inspired the moniker, which came into existence when the singer was known at LaFace Records – home to Toni Braxton, TLC and OutKast – as the “token white girl” (her words). Now, nearly two decades after she released her debut solo album, “Can’t Take Me Home,” on the Atlanta-based label founded by Antonio “LA” Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, the name remains just as fitting as she continues to kick …

This all makes for an amusing location to her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which sits adjacent to Jackie Chan and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in front of the Dolby Theater. She receives the honor on Feb 5 with Ellen Degeneres and Kerri Kinney-Silver officiating. “I feel protected by strong boys,” says Pink, 39, to which this reporter feels obliged to note that as a solo star with don’t-mess-with-me songs like “Blow Me,” it’s not likely she’s ever needed a man to look out for her. “I like to pretend occasionally,” she chuckles.

Indeed, if there’s a superhero version of a pop star, it would be Pink, who has not only sold more than 60 million albums worldwide and won three Grammys (out of 20 nominations, including Best Pop Vocal Album this year for her seventh and latest release, “Beautiful Trauma”, but has also raked in average box office receipts of over $3.6 million per stop on her most recent tour, according to Pollstar. In March, she heads out on the road for three more months, two countries and 37 shows of an extended North American leg.

Special

But not before the star dedication, which she describes as “really special.” Says Pink: “My whole family is coming out for it. It’s funny because I was looking at the list of names [of other star recipients] a little while ago and Boyz II Men is there – that’s who almost signed me to my first record contract almost 25 years ago. And it’s following people like Lucille Ball and Gene Autry and Fred Astaire. Oh, my God. So rad.”

Not that her journey to stardom has anything in common with those Old Hollywood icons. “I moved to Venice Beach when I was nineteen and I didn’t know anybody — or anything,” Pink says. “I came out here by myself and I used to go to Hollywood Boulevard to buy stripper heels. I just remember seeing all those stars and thinking: ‘God, I hope this happens for me.’ And here we are.”

But how did she — a former teen runaway, high school drop-out and homeless drug dealer – get here? “I started singing when I was nine,” Pink says of her early days in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. “I told my mom that if I didn’t get on ‘Star Search’ by then, I wasn’t going to be cute anymore and I would never be successful.” While reality TV wasn’t in the cards, she soon found other outlets for her creative energy. “I did talent shows, I started punk-rock bands, I sang in church, I did everything you could do musically, and I played all-ages clubs when I was thirteen,” she says. “I was also on a lot of drugs and a lot of my friends were overdosing around me – I sold drugs, I took drugs and I went to friends’ funerals, so I knew I had to get out.”

She even had her parents’ blessing, sort of. “My mom kicked me out when I was 15, then I dropped out of school. I felt grown at a very young age. They just couldn’t stop me – and they knew they wouldn’t be able to stop me – so they figured it would be better for our relationship if they supported me.”

Pink’s big break – or so she thought – would come a year later when she found the support of L.A. Reid, who signed her at 16 as part of the girl group R&B trio Choice in 1995. “We got shelved,” she recalls. “And it was left up to me to go solo or to stay on the shelf for the rest of my life, so I had to break two girls’ hearts.”

Interfering

In one of her earliest lessons in music business 101, she soon learned the intricacies of contracts. “I had to be the one to decide to go solo and not L.A. Reid, my record company president, because that would be him interfering in a contract,” says Pink. “He told me behind the scenes: ‘If you don’t go solo, I’m never going to support you – however, it has to be your idea.’ So that was the first tricky part. It took me a long time to figure out and was horrifying and I felt like I was a huge piece of shit. I threw up for a week thinking about these girls and what we had been through together and how unfair that was to them and just how absurd it all was. And I remember talking about it on the phone and he said: ‘Babe, when you pictured yourself as a little girl up on stage, did you picture yourself in a group or did you picture yourself ramming your stubborn head through the world by yourself?’ And I was like: ‘That.’ And he was like: ‘Then, don’t waste the rest of your life because of guilt.’

“And so I hit go – but once I hit go, everybody around me disappeared because nobody wants to get sued,” says Pink. “So I no longer have a record contract, I no longer have managers, and since they were paying for us to live, I no longer had a place to live. I’m 17 years old and I’m homeless. What do I do? I know these guys in the Bronx who were writers/producers, so I’m going to move up there and sleep on their floor, I’m going to smoke weed and I’m going to write songs because when the dust settles, I want to put a record out.”

Pink has been married to BMX pro Carey Hart for 16 years (the couple have two children, Jameson Moon, 2 and Willow Sage, 7). Her other long-term, loyal partnership is with Davies. “He hasn’t taken on anyone else since, so I guess I’m a handful,” pink jokes. “But, you know, he has his hands full. With his help and team, I have become a touring artist. I have achieved exactly what I wanted to achieve. Because I always knew what my strong points were.  I don’t sell perfume, I’m not the prettiest, I’m not the best. I’m hard-looking and I have enough talent and I work on my craft and I put my head down and I win. And I charge and I charge and I charge. And I don’t give up. So when I wasn’t selling records, I was still selling out arenas. I didn’t need to win any popularity contests; I wanted to be a touring artist and I wanted to be great at what I did. And at almost 40 years old, I can say I’m great at what I do.” (RTRS)

By James Patrick Herman

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