By: Chris Heath (GQ Magazine)
Date: December 8, 2016
“The ﬁrst line of that song is ‘Your butt is mine.’ I’m saying, who’s going to sing that to whom? Because you sure ain’t singing it to me. And I sure ain’t singing it to you. So right there we got a problem.” — Prince, in 1997, on why he declined Michael Jackson’s offer to join him for a duet on the title track of his album Bad
Jill Jones: Prince had spoken to me about that whole Bad thing. We were in the car, driving around listening to Jimi Hendrix, and then we pulled off the side of the road, looking at the lake, and he started saying, “Michael contacted me to do this song.”
Z: I don’t know what Michael was thinking, but he just didn’t know the ﬁerceness of Prince. I know that he didn’t want any part of that. You don’t come to Prince with a song like, “Who’s bad in this song—Prince or Michael?” It’s gonna be Prince. It’s not gonna be Michael. He loved Michael Jackson. He was just at a level now where he was competing. He was a ﬁerce competitor—he wasn’t going to do anything that looked like they were buddies. He was gonna win. And he won with the movie. He won with Purple Rain.
Husney: [During the recording of Prince’s first album in San Francisco,] Santana wanted to meet Prince. He lived [up near] the very top of Mount Tamalpais. He was very much into his guru—everything is white. He asked us to take off our [shoes]. Prince wouldn’t take off his boots: “I don’t take ’em off for anybody.” You have to remember, my guess would have been that even the boots were slightly elevated, so to take those boots off might be to be two inches shorter. So they’re walking, he and Santana went off in this room, and Prince must have walked in some mud, and I saw mud on this white floor, so I’m down on my hands and knees, cleaning it up as best I can while they’re walking, so Santana won’t see it.
Glover: On the plane, he brought up Grafﬁti Bridge as something he wanted to make into a musical. He said, “It’s gonna be you and Madonna.” She was actually supposed to be the lead of the movie. [Glover describes how Madonna later ﬂew to Minneapolis to discuss the project.] He said he was having a hard time with Madonna and would I come down? He couldn’t deal with her by himself, is what he told me over the phone. So I came down and Madonna and Prince started arguing over the script. She was funny. I liked her. They both started ragging on each other. Madonna said she didn’t like the script, and Prince said to Madonna, “Well, I don’t like your shoes.” That’s how it all started. I was sitting there going, “Oh my God, here we go.” So Madonna told Prince, “I don’t like your shoes, either. Look at ’em with those peace signs and zippers and shit all over ’em.” And Prince was saying, “What are you wearing? Are those shoes or boots?” ’Cause Madonna had on these cowboy-boot shoes. This is what happens when you get two big egos in one room. It was jokey and serious. They’re the same way.
Bobby Shriver (philanthropist; was executive producer of the Special Olympics broadcast when Prince played at the 1991 opening ceremony): The party [afterward] at Paisley, that was quite a scene. When he came out of the elevator that night, I happened to be standing with the great Warren Beatty. He came over and Warren said, “I love your music,” and he said, “I love your movies,” and then Warren says, “Here we are! At your house! It’s great!” And Prince goes, “Yeah. Yeah, it is. But I’m still short.” It wasn’t really a joke. It was kind of poignant. He didn’t laugh—he just observed the fact of the matter. He happened to be talking to relatively tall fellas—I’m six-one, I think Warren is six-two. Having a nice conversation. And despite all that, and despite playing at the Special Olympics, and despite his own brilliance, and despite whatever, he still, standing with us, experienced what he must’ve experienced his whole life. I said, “Oh, come on, man.” I tried to make it into a little joke—I think he laughed a little bit, but it was obviously a serious thing for him. I thought, “Wow.”
In the studio in February 1977, before his first record deal. Source: Larry Falk
Glover: Prince’s cook wanted me to let him know that she had made dinner for them. I walked with them back through Paisley to the kitchen. Prince’s cook had candles all over the table—it was so pretty how she did everything. And Madonna says, “What, are we having a séance or something?” And I thought, that’s cold. I can’t remember what really happened after that. I just remember Madonna complaining a lot. She said it was too cold in Minneapolis and she was ready to go home. That night she was supposed to have a special party. It was all set up for her to have a party, and she just left. He wasn’t too happy about it. Because he did go out of his way to make her feel comfortable.
Michael Pagnotta (Prince’s publicist, 1991–1995): I found him to be incredibly competitive and incredibly intense. We were out on the road on the Diamonds and Pearls tour, and I had to leave for a couple of days—George Michael was doing that “Too Funky” video. I have to tell him that I have to go to Paris to do this George Michael video. And he just looked at me and was like, “What do you want to do that for? George Michael? George Michael ain’t shit.”
Tollefson: So I’m outside of Paisley Park—this was in ’95—and all of a sudden this girl, like, is pushing up to go into Paisley. And I’m like, “Chick, there’s a line here. Like, what are you doing?” And she was like, “Oh, well, my agent said I could get through.” I’m like, “I don’t know who your agent is, but I don’t think you’re getting in.” And so she’s going up to the front of Paisley Park and she’s begging, “Please let me come in.” And they’re, “Well, no, you have to have tickets for the show tonight, and it’s sold out.” And she’s like, “No, no, I just wanna go in and see it and I’ll come out.” And she told them her name and she went in and she came out 15 minutes later looking like she’d just won the lottery. Like, oh my God. She goes, “This is Paisley Park, this is like Willy Wonka.” And that was Angelina Jolie, who was 20 years old, premiering her movie [Hackers] at the Mall of America movie theater, just down the street.
Chaka Khan (singer whose picture Prince had on his wall as a teenager and whom he ﬁrst met in 1978; much later signed to his NPG Records label): Somehow he got my hotel number. At the time, Sly [Stone] and I were really close buddies. And Prince is a very good mimic, and he mimicked Sly on the phone and said, “I’m up here at Electric Lady Studios—come up here and chill.” I said, “Okay, I’ll be right over.” The studio looked completely empty. Finally I found this short little guy in this one studio with a guitar. I asked, “Where’s Sly?” He said, “That was me.” I said, “Who are you?” He was just everyday about it. I wanted to strangle him. I said, “Okay, nice meeting you,” and I left. So that’s how we met. He never let me forget it for a long time. He thought it was one of the funniest things that ever happened to him.