…continue Pg4 – Eric Leeds Interview – April 2016
Did he use that sense of humor in a caustic way at all?
Oh, absolutely! Absolutely! I liked to be able, to some degree, make fun at him at his expense. But he could give it as good as he got. Absolutely. And a lot of times, it was interesting: Let me get under his skin a little bit and see what he comes back with. He could be very funny.
What were the circumstances of it ending with you guys?
With that particular band, we were all under contract with him and we knew at the end of the ’80s that particular band was going to break up because he was not planning to go back on the road for a while after that. And to be honest, I think everyone in the band, myself included, we were kind of done with it by then. At that point in time, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do next, but, fortunately for me, he was still using me in the studio an awful lot. And then within a year after ’89, we had these two albums we had done as Madhouse, the instrumental thing that he basically created for me, so we were already doing those. And I was working on what would have been the third Madhouse album, and in the midst of the project he came to me and said, “You know, I want to sign you to Paisley Park Records and make this an Eric Leeds album instead of a Madhouse album.” And to be honest, that was probably the most significant gift. The biggest compliment he could ever have given me was to come to me and say “I want to sign you to my label.” Obviously, I said, “Wow, well, thank you.” So that enabled me to record two CDs for Paisley Park/Warner Brothers. After the mid-’90s I was involved in other things and he would occasionally bring me back into the studio. Then, in late 2002, he came to see me in the Latin band I was in and a couple weeks later I got a call that he was back on the road with this band, and I ended up infrequently doing some gigs with him in late 2002/early 2003. By the end of 2003, he was ready to go back on the road with the Musicology Tour. In the early 2000s, he was really at the low ebb of his career before the big comeback, and at that point I was really not interested in going back on the road with him. I was done with the idea of doing that. And I was back just trying to play jazz as much as I could, so I turned him down for that gig and we went our separate ways, and after that I saw him maybe once and that was about it.
Well, it sounds like it was all an amazing experience, and one that opened a lot of doors.
It really was. Because of Prince, I was able to work with George Clinton, one of my absolute heroes in music. At the same time he signed me to Paisley Park, he was signing George Clinton, so that enabled me to get to know George and do horn work on a couple of his albums. Because of Prince, I got to know Miles Davis. He’s MY Prince. Musically, there’s probably no one who is more significant for me than Miles, and because of Prince I got to know Miles, and I gotta tell you, all of us who knew and got to know Prince, we’re all sitting here and reflecting on what it meant in our lives. The friendship I had with Sheila E. and with Paul Peterson, who has been my closest friend in the Twin Cities for years and years now, we have that relationship because of our mutual involvement with Prince. That’s really for us. For everyone else, the music obviously is the lasting legacy, and the musical experience is for us our legacy with Prince, but the relationships are as important, if not more important. We have that because of him. That is one of the most important aspects of all of our mutual involvement with him.