“Time is a mind construct. It’s not real.” — Prince in 2011, when asked why he doesn’t appear to age.
Prince was literally born “Prince,” as his parents named him after his father’s stage name, Prince Rogers. His father once said, “I named my son ‘Prince’ because I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do.”
The musician essentially became one of pop culture’s greatest legends. Listen to enough celebrity interviews and just about everyone seems to have an extremely memorable experience with the late musician. Questlove recently shared a story about the time when Prince sped around on a golf cart, invited him to hang out onstage during a show and then ordered the drummer to throw him a party. Kesha once broke into Prince’s home to give him her demo CD.
You may know the standards of Prince’s legend. He was once so poor he stood outside McDonald’s just to smell the food he apparently couldn’t afford. He would occasionally knock on doors representing Jehovah’s Witness. If you watched “Chappelle’s Show,” you certainly know about the time he beat Charlie Murphy in a game of basketball.
But below are a few of the deep-cut, borderline unbelievable stories about the legend that ended today. Make sure to pass them on.
1. Prince was a master in acts of dominance.
When he changed his name to the symbol, it forced his label into the ridiculous task of mailing floppy disks with a custom font to publications.
Prince changed his name to what would later be called “The Love Symbol” in 1993. At the time, Warner Bros. and his personal label, Paisley Park, had to send bright yellow floppy disks to reporters so writers could insert the new symbol into stories. A Warner Bros. VP, Marylou Badeaux, said, “Everyone was baffled and upset.”
Vanity Fair interviewed Prince at the time and asked if his friends at his studio would refer to him as the symbol. Prince responded, speaking about the symbol-persona in third person, “We don’t necessarily worry about what we call him, because when he calls us we know his voice. We know who we’re talking to.”
2. He had similar moves for other celebrities.
After Dave Chappelle parodied him, Prince put the comedian’s likeness on his single art without asking permission.
When “Weird Al” Yankovic asked to parody Prince’s music, the singer didn’t just say no. He had a lawyer telegram “Al” with an interesting request.
In 2013, Prince released the single “Breakfast Can Wait,” with Dave Chappelle dressed as Prince on the cover. The Chappelle picture was from a sketch the comedian had done on “Chappelle’s Show” in 2004, almost a decade prior.
The next year, in 2014, Chappelle told Jimmy Fallon during an episode of the “The Tonight Show” that the album art was “a Prince judo move,” further explaining, “You make fun of Prince in a sketch and he’ll just use you in his album cover.” Chappelle made it seem as if he hadn’t given Prince permission, but he still wasn’t going to sue him. Because it’s Prince.
The comedian “Weird Al” Yankovic has said that he approached Prince every few years about doing his own parody, but never got approval. Then Prince pulled a “judo move.” As Yankovic told Wired:
One of the oddest things to ever happen between me and Prince was the year that he and I were at the American Music Awards at the same time. Apparently I was going to be sitting in the same row as Prince that year and I got a telegram — and I wasn’t the only one — from Prince’s management company saying that I was not to establish eye contact with him during the show. I just couldn’t even believe it.
3. While renting an NBA star’s house, Prince dyed the fountain purple and converted the gate into his symbol, among making other renovations.
The star was about to beat him up, but then Prince just gave him a check for roughly a million dollars.
Former NBA star Carlos Boozer became Prince’s landlord in 2004 after the musician offered to pay around $70,000 a month in rent to stay in his home.
Once Prince moved in, he apparently transformed the house to put a “Purple Rain stamp on it,” according to Boozer teammate Jay Williams, who spoke with ESPN. Walls were even knocked down.
According to Williams:
Booz was like, ‘I was getting ready to go over there and beat this little man down.’ And dude was just like ‘Here, Boozer, here is a little check for about a million, it’ll take care of everything, get it back the way you want it.’ And Booz was like, ‘This little man is cool as hell.'”
4. Prince was originally supposed to duet with Michael Jackson on “Bad,” but he backed out when he learned the first line was “Your butt is mine.”
During a VH1 Artist interview in 1997, comedian Chris Rock asked Prince about whether he turned down collaborating with Michael Jackson on the song “Bad.”
Prince claimed that he would have played Wesley Snipes’ character in the music video, but said no to the song for a very specific reason.
“To put it better, the first line of that song is ‘Your butt is mine,'” said Prince. He claimed that he asked Jackson who would be singing the line to whom. Then added, “‘Cause you sure ain’t saying that to me.”
5. Prince was ready for the stage at a very young age. His stepdad snuck him onstage to dance with James Brown when he was just 10.
Later in life, James Brown would summon Prince to play with him onstage when Brown learned he was in the audience.
Prince told MTV in 1985, “My stepdad put me onstage with [James Brown] and I danced a bit until the bodyguard took me off.”
Later in life, Prince would join James Brown and Michael Jackson onstage for a performance, as seen in the video above.