By: Chris Heath (GQ Magazine)
Date: December 8, 2016
Tollefson: There’s an arboretum, literally down the street from Paisley. And during the day he’d ride his mountain bike around town, and nobody would bother him.
Keith Lowers (longtime fan): Once the lights turned on [after a Paisley Park event in September 2015], I left quick because I’m super claustrophobic and can’t take the cattle-exit style of most rock shows. So I’m walking real fast in the parking lot, trying to get to my car quick when—zoooom!—I see this dude on a bike ripping around the parking lot coming at me. I was ignoring him, trying not to engage, when he circled me and slyly said, “Where you goin’? The party’s just getting started.” WTF. It’s Prince…on a white mountain bike, wearing his full rock-star outfit—white, to match the bike, of course, with a multicolor print on it. So I returned to the doorman at the advice of Prince—only to be schooled that Prince plays this joke often and that the party was indeed over.
Christina Terrones (longtime fan and Paisley Park regular): That was his thing: He liked to roller-skate and he liked to bike.
Lowers: I recently heard they found a fully custom-painted BMX bike in his vault with videos of competitive BMX riding. I don’t doubt it. He was not only quick on the bike but nimble.
“When I first started, I tried one time to unify a group splintered by whether I was still ‘funky’ or not. That question still goes on, obviously.” — Prince, 2001, on his early experiences with web chat rooms
Sam Jennings (webmaster for various official online Prince sites, album-sleeve designer): At the end of the ’90s, when the Internet was kind of becoming a thing, Prince was a big AOL user at the time, and he would go in these chat rooms and have these organized chats. Napster was a big thing at the time, so we’d talk about file downloads and people paying for music. But also a lot of spiritual things.
Jeremiah Freed (blogger who writes under the name of Dr. Funkenberry; befriended by Prince, who often used him as a conduit to his fan base): He was starting to embrace technology, but he wasn’t that great at it. Like, I saw him on a laptop, and the way that he’d work a mouse was…very interesting. He didn’t know how to do it. And to see him on a laptop, he just kinda taps really hard. I mean, the way he would re-tweet people, he wouldn’t do it how everybody else re-tweets. I could tell he was just copy-and-pasting stuff—when he first started to do it, he’d be copying the seconds or the minutes, however long since the person tweeted it.
Washington: When you get to know him, he’s really funny and has a wild sense of humor. He spends a lot of time looking up comedy. Laughing at things and sharing videos. I would always make fun of how pale he was—I thought he was super pale. I’m like, “Prince, you need to tan.” Like, you need some vitamin D in your life. Then he sent a meme of himself wearing glasses, saying, “She thinks I need a tan.” He made it. He makes a lot of stuff. He likes to mess around on his computer.
Freed: If he wanted to reach you, there’d be a text—he would write everything and it would be copy-and-pasted from his assistant or manager, ’cause he didn’t have a cell phone. I’d know it was from him because it would all be in caps. He didn’t see it as shouting. He just sees it as: That’s his way of doing stuff.
Washington: He [told me], “Pull up this website,” and I pulled it up, and he’s: “Listen to how they go on.” It was a video forum—like, What do you think Prince’s next album is gonna sound like? What do you think about the concert? I’m, this is so interesting, because he’s Prince and he has 200 people on this forum, and for me as a YouTuber those are ridiculously low numbers—for me, a good forum is 20,000 people. But he was so into it. And he knew them by name. He’s like, “Oh, remember when so-and-so came to the concert and she stole my maracas?” And he knew who it was who stole his maracas!
Freed: He wanted to sell a shirt for $1,000 that would get you into Paisley Park for free for life.