One of the great enigmas of the last 30 years, Prince has a few tales to tell. Here's a selection from this new biography featuring Michael Jackson, Yom Kippur and table tennis...
In 1976,Â Princeâ€™s sound engineer Chris Moon pretended to be Stevie Wonderâ€™s manager in a desperate attempt to try and get a record deal for Prince. He finally nailed a meeting at Atlantic Records, after telling a record executive over the phone, â€śIf you like Stevie Wonder, youâ€™re gonna love my artist. Heâ€™s only eighteen, he plays all the instruments, and heâ€™s not blind!â€ť
In 1985, while filmingÂ Under the Cherry Moon, Prince met his pop rival Michael Jackson in LA and challenged him to a game of ping-pong in front of everyone. They softly hit the ball to each other until Prince said, â€śCome on, Michael, get into itâ€ť and then: â€śYou want me to slam it?â€ť Jackson raised his hands to cover his face but the ball slammed into his crotch. After he left, Prince started strutting around like a rooster, asking â€śDid you see that? He played like Helen Keller!â€ť
Released in February 1986,Â Kiss was one of Princeâ€™s biggest hits, but the A&R executive at Warner Bros hated it. â€śWe canâ€™t put this out,â€ť he said, â€śThereâ€™s no bass and it sounds like a demo.â€ť Prince told them, â€śYouâ€™re not getting another song. Thatâ€™s the one weâ€™re gonna put out.â€ť The label wasnâ€™t thrilled but he basically forced them to release it. Prince was proved right though, as his fans rushed to buy the single, and it went to no.3 in the US pop chart.
â€śIf you like Stevie Wonder, youâ€™re gonna love my artist. Heâ€™s only eighteen, he plays all the instruments, and heâ€™s not blind!â€ť
Quincy Jones told Prince that Michael Jackson wanted to do a duet with him on his new song, then calledÂ Iâ€™m Bad. Prince considered the idea until he heard Jacksonâ€™s opening lineÂ Your butt is mineâ€¦on the demo tape. â€śNow whoâ€™s gonna sing that to who?â€ť Prince joked on VH1, â€śâ€™Cause you sure ainâ€™t singing it to me. And I sure ainâ€™t singing it to you.â€ť He backed out, telling Quincy Jones, â€śYou donâ€™t need me to be on this. Itâ€™ll be a hit without me.â€ť It certainly was, andÂ Bad became one of Michael Jacksonâ€™s biggest hits, with an iconic video directed by Martin Scorsese.
Prince met his first wife, Mayte Garcia, when she was only sixteen.Â Her family had attended Princeâ€™s show in Spain, and her mother enjoyed the Arabic feel of his songÂ Thieves in the Temple. Since then, she kept telling Mayte, â€śYou have to make a tape of your dancing and send it to him.â€ť After seeing the tape, Prince arranged to meet Mayte and her family. He complimented her moves. She mentioned she could flip coins on her stomach, and he called in band members to watch. Soon, he had to leave, but he asked her father if he could keep in touch. A band member reportedly joked, â€śThereâ€™s your future wife.â€ť
One day in early October 2003, according toÂ Entertainment Weekly, Prince knocked on the door of a suburban home in Eden Prairie. He introduced himself as Prince Nelson, and entered with his band member Larry Graham. The homeownerâ€™s wife thought:Â Cool, cool, cool. He wants to use my house for a set. Instead, they started â€śon this Jehovahâ€™s Witness stuff,â€ť she remembered. She interrupted him. â€śYou know what? Youâ€™ve walked into a Jewish household, and this is not something Iâ€™m interested in.â€ť â€śCan I just finish?â€ť Prince answered. Graham pulled out a tiny Bible and read scriptures â€śabout being Jewish and the land of Israel,â€ť the woman recalled. They left a pamphlet and got out of there after twenty-five minutes. â€śHe was very kind,â€ť she said of Prince.
Outside, Prince and Graham re-entered a black truck where a womanâ€”thought to be his second wife Manuelaâ€”waited. Prince left without knocking on other doors. He realized that he had just tried to â€śconvert a Jewish family hours before the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar,â€ťÂ Entertainment Weekly explained.
Prince: Inside The Music and the Masks is published by Aurum Press, February 17th
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