There are few artists that transcended genre and time quite like Prince. The enigmatic and charismatic performer is known not only for his roaring guitar licks, his mastery of pop, and rock, but also for his flamboyant style and strange interactions with those around him.
Entirely unapologetic, and honestly a little weird, this music icon never seemed to have a boring moment of his life. When the legendary musician passed away suddenly in 2016 it left many in shock. Though, many people still honor his memory by remembering and retelling the great stories that defined him on and off the stage.
Today, June 7th, 2021, Prince would have turned 63, and in his honor, we look back at some of the greatest moments in his storied career.
Prince Made it Rain
The Super Bowl half time show is a major event that every year draws millions of viewers. And though through the years many performances from the iconic slot have lived in our memory, none are quite like the time Prince made it rain at Super Bowl XLI. Though weather conditions that day seemed to indicate that things would go off without a hitch, shortly into Prince’s set a torrential downpour started to hit Dolphin Stadium, now known as Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. Behind the scenes technicians and show runners were beside themselves in fear that he or one of the other performers would slip on the extremely slick stage, or his electric guitar would send a dangerous shock.
However, the consummate professional that he was, Prince didn’t let a little rain stop him, in fact, he commanded it, almost as if it was his will for it to start raining for dramatic effect. And well, we sort of believe he really did make it rain. The confidence and grandeur of that performance cement it as one of the most iconic moments in entertainment history.
Prince invites Dave Grohl to jam in an empty stadium
When Prince asks you to jam, you jam. Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters was offered this prestigious opportunity at an inopportune moment as the frontman and legendary drummer happened to be a few too many drinks in when the offer came his way. Dave partied a little too hard while seeing Prince perform and recalled unfortunately rejecting the offer, intoxicated and intimidated.
“Anyone else I would go up there and make a mess, but Prince? No way,” recalled Grohl.
Fortunately, the ship hadn’t sailed yet. Prince called him backstage after the show and asked what he was doing later that week. The two agreed to jam at The Forum where Prince was playing and after several days of not hearing back from him, Grohl simply showed up. While meandering around Prince magically appeared and kicked of their epic jam session to an empty 17,000-person stadium. Grohl jumped on the drums and they jammed for awhile and even covered “A Whole Lot of Love” by Led Zeppelin.
Prince was enamored by Grohl’s musicianship and asked to jam again. Grohl, unfortunately never heard from Prince again, something the mysterious singer was known to do.
Prince plays bass in Michael Jackson’s face
The Black Eyed Peas were special guest artists during Prince’s 2006 residency in Los Vegas and singer Will.I.Am once invited Michael Jackson out to one of the performances. To Will’s surprise Jackson was hesitant and revealed that him and Prince never really got along. After a few phone calls and playing mediator, Will had convinced MJ to come to the show. Set up in a private booth, Michael Jackson and Will.I.Am were sitting watching Prince’s performance when suddenly Prince came over and played bass in Jackson’s face.
Whether his intention was to taunt, acknowledge, or otherwise is unclear. However, Jackson did not take kindly to the gesture.
Prince challenges Eddie Murphy to a game of basketball, and dominates
When you’re 5’2″ you’re not supposed to be good at basketball. And if you’re especially not supposed to play in a crushed velvet suit. Prince didn’t care about what he was supposed to do. Eddie Murphy‘s legendary story of playing basketball is stranger that fiction. At some point in the 80’s Eddie Murphy and his brother Charlie were at a club that Prince happened to be at. Prince would soon approach the Murphies and ask them to play a game of basketball. The brothers were stunned, but agreed.
Both teams dressed in their club attire, the comedy legend deemed the teams “shirts vs blouses,” a joke Prince did not take kindly to. Prince was back by his group The Revolution, which proceeded to mop the floor with Murphy’s team. As an act of good will Prince invited them all back to his place for….pancakes.
Here’s a reenactment of that game:
Prince plays “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with Tom Petty at R&R Hall of Fame Induction
Prince was a music icon his entire career, but in 2004 he was finally introduced into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This moments moment was bookended with one of the greatest collabs ever as Prince played “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with Tom Petty. The ripping guitar solo was Princified as he gently laid back into the crowd as he shredded. Only, the crowd was far removed from the stage, leaving one large security guard to gently hold Prince up. The moment cracked smiles all across the stage.
Prince took Lionel Rochie’s Rolls Royce for a joy ride and was back in time for supper
Prince is known for his odd brand of thinking and acting, so most people don’t question him when he makes odd requests. Lionel Richie had one of these moments when he was mixing his 1980 hit “Hello.” The fledgling Prince was sitting in on the studio session when suddenly he asked to borrow the Rolls Royce sitting outside the studio. Richie handed the keys over and told them he was having sweet potato pie for dinner. Prince took the car for a joy ride and was back in time for supper.
Prince offers Quincy Jones a lollipop on stage, refuses to sing
In 1985 “We Are the World” was conceived as charity song to help with the ongoing famine that has struck Africa. A supergroup of the top artists at the time has been assembled for the cause. However, Prince was half-hearted in his approach. Though he did show up for the American Music Awards and donated a track to the charity album his obstinance is slightly off-putting, yet endearing, and iconic all at the same time.
As attendees participating in the recording all gathered on stage, Prince stood front and center and swayed along while sucking on a lollipop. Quincy Jones leaned over to Prince to encourage some singing, but was met with a lollipop in his face, as to say, “See? Do you like it when I shove things in your face?” Prince had confidence, we’ll say that much.
Prince kicks Fallon’s butt at ping pong, ditches him on stage
Prince is known for trying to get people he liked on stage with him. And while most the time it’s a famous musician or the like, late-night host Jimmy Fallon was puzzled by his invitation to share the stage with Prince. Feeling he would detract from the greatness of Prince’s performance with only goofy dance moves to offer, he denied the request three times.
Jimmy relented when his show’s backing band drummer Questlove said he was going up. Questlost immediately hopped on a drum kit and Jimmy found himself surrounded by backup dancers as Prince suddenly disappeared.
However, getting ditched on stage by Prince didn’t sour their relationship. Fallon was invited to play pingpong with Prince, perhaps ditching him on stage was a test, only a few nights after his child’s birth. Knowing how rare the situation was, he meet Prince at a ping pong club in New York where a private table was waiting for him. Prince with a paddle in hand and few words started the match. Fallon recalls getting destroyed by Prince and just as suddenly as he arrived, he left. Prince had vanished.
Prince holds 4 a.m. “Pizza and Pasta” party
Prince is not only known for his strange request and ability to seemingly teleport, he is also known for being a night owl. Comedian Anthony Anderson had made an impression on the singer and soon found himself invited to all his shows and house parties. One instance, in particular, stood out when at an after-show his assistant invited Anderson to “come back for pasta and pizza.” He showed up at a Ritz-Carlton at 4 a.m. which according to him is a normal thing, saying it wouldn’t be strange to have Stevie Wonder playing at Prince’s house at 5 in the morning while his chef cooked you and omelet.