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20 Times Prince Blessed Us With His Prince-ness

8 minute read

Prince, as an artist and perhaps even more so as a human being, was truly one of a kind. From his revolutionary music to his unforgettable fashion sense, there was no denying that Prince marched to the beat of his own drum and did so proudly. His music made him an idol, his performance solidified him as an icon, but the stories about Prince in his extraordinary life off-stage have made him a legend. From kicking it with fellow musicians like Andre 3000 and Talib Kweli to placing a personal ad for the “most beautiful girl in the world” in the paper, there’s no shortage of anecdotes that prove that the Purple One was one of the greats.

On what would have been Prince’s 58th birthday, see 20 of the best stories about Prince below.

1.Prince was a legitimate baller: Prince playing basketball has become the stuff of legends, thanks to a Dave Chapelle skit where Charlie Murphy reveals that Prince and the Revolution beat him and brother Eddie in a game of pick-up basketball, then proceeded to serve them pancakes. Prince later confirmed that the story was true and even used the skit as album art for his track, “Breakfast Can Wait”; a look back into his past reveals that despite his short stature, Prince was a high school basketball star.

2. Prince sent (and customized) singing telegrams: He once sent Janelle Monáe a singing telegram to celebrate the release of her album, The Electric Lady (the Purple one appeared on the track, “Givin Em What They Love”), but customized the song to be an edited version of his hit, “Kiss.” A choice lyric is “You don’t have to be rich, to be Monáe.” You can watch the full performance of the singing telegram here.

3. Prince was one of the greatest musical icons of all time, but he wasn’t above playing back-up: In a heartfelt Facebook tribute post, Erykah Badu shared that Prince was once her rhythm guitarist. Not only that, he sent her the picture of them performing, with a handwritten caption, “From ur new rhythm guitarist.”

4. As with his music, Prince enjoyed unconventional culinary pairings: According to Purple Rain director Albert Magnoli, in an interview with SPIN, his Purpleness enjoyed spaghetti and orange juice. Word.

5. Prince was fiercely competitive and talked smack like no other: Jimmy Fallon shared on an episode of The Tonight Show that his Purpleness once challenged him to a game of ping-pong at Susan Sarandon’s NYC ping-pong club, Spin. Prince showed up to the competition wearing a double-breasted crushed blue velvet suit and annihilated Fallon during the game, then left without saying good-bye.

6. Prince wasn’t always a gracious winner, especially when it came to Michael Jackson: One of the most memorable moments in the MJ/Prince rivalry was when Prince challenged Michael Jackson to a game of ping-pong. Jackson had never played ping-pong, but Prince didn’t take it easy on him. Long story short, Prince hit the ping-pong ball so hard that Jackson dropped his ping-pong paddle, leading Prince to say (according to Ronin Ro’s Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks), “He played like Helen Keller!”

7. Prince did not keep up with the Kardashians: New Girl star Zooey Deschanel shared with Conan O’Brien that when Prince guest-starred on the show, he nixed the Kardashians from appearing in the episode with him; the Purple One took his shade one step further and even demanded that the scripts and call sheets mentioning the notorious reality tv show family be burned in a bonfire.

8. In fact, Prince had no problem kicking Kim Kardashian West off-stage when she couldn’t dance on his level: Prince once invited Kim Kardashian to dance on-stage with him, but when her dancing didn’t pass muster, he dismissed her with a succinct, “Get off the stage,” which you can watch, here.

9. Prince was a plain slice kind of guy: Tracy Morgan shared with Billboard that his royal Purpleness liked no-frills pizza. On a trip to Sky Bar with Morgan and Andre 3000, Prince ordered a plain slice. “He was down to earth: regular, no extra cheese, no pepperoni — just a slice and a Coke.”

10. Prince was the king of throwing shade, and even friends and lovers weren’t exempt: Prince’s former publicist, Michael Pagnotta, told Billboard about a particularly shady occasion when Madonna very prominently attended Prince’s show at Radio City Music Hall. Prince then proceeded to say between sets, “I can sing and dance at the same time. I don’t lip-sync.” Madonna reportedly ran out of the venue “in a huff.” The story adds irony to the fact that Madge was tapped to do the Prince tribute for the Billboard Music Awards.

11. Apparently, Prince summoned you, not the other way around: In an interview with the Daily Mail, Prince’s ex-wife Mayte Garcia shared that she wasn’t allowed to call him. “I wasn’t allowed to call him, ever. Even when we were married; I had to wait for him to call me,” she said. “I‘ve no idea why.” Garcia also shared that while the Purple One had an in-house salon, it was only for him; she had to go out to get her hair done.

12. Prince read the Bible at the club, as one does: Talib Kweli shared on his Twitter that he once hit up an L.A. club with the musical icon. At 2 am, Prince kicked out all the men, then proceeded to read from the Bible.

13. Prince once fired Questlove as a DJ so he could watch Finding Nemo: Questlove shared on Twitter and later with Okayplayer that he was asked to play a DJ set for Prince after attending one of his concerts. Prince didn’t like Questlove’s choice to play Fela, so he had him cut the music and instead played the movie, Finding Nemo.

14. Prince did not approve of obscene language: According to Erykah Badu, Prince had a swear jar. Singer Marc Anthony said that Prince would “literally cringe” when he cursed and once told him, “Marc, find other words.”

15. Prince’s penchant for purple knew no bounds: There’s reason why Prince has been called “the Purple One” — ESPN reports that once, while renting NBA player Carlos Boozer’s West Hollywood mansion, the singer added a purple monogrammed carpet, put purple water in the fountain outside, and made the master bedroom into a hair salon. Boozer was apparently mad about it, until Prince handed him a check for “about a million.”

16. Prince was not above using personal ads: Prince once placed a nationwide personal ad in 1993, reading “Eligible bachelor seeks the most beautiful girl in the world to spend the holidays with;” other criteria besides being the most beautiful girl in the world, was to be over 18 and to send videos or photos to Paisley Park.

17. Prince was a Joni Mitchell fan: Prince loved Joni so much that he sent her fan mail with his signature “U’s” and hearts; she in turn, told New York Magazine that out of all the musicians who have cited her influence, he is the one she appreciates the most.

18. Prince was, among other things, an excellent multi-tasker: In an interview with Notorious Magazine, it was revealed that Prince would watch Chicago Bulls games from a television on the side of the stage while he played guitar solos; he also had his wardrobe girl write cue cards with the game’s score that he could see during his concerts. He obviously had his priorities in the right place.

19. Prince was a door-to-door witness: After converting to the Jehovah’s Witnesses thanks to friend and Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham, Prince would proselytize, going so far as to knock on doors in his neighborhood. On the experience of Prince coming to your door to proselytize, he told the New Yorker, “Sometimes people act surprised, but mostly they’re really cool about it.”

20. He was as dexterous with a pair of roller skates as he was with music: In his book, Mo’ Meta Blues, Questlove shared that Prince “could skate like he could sing,” after embarking on a late-night roller skating excursion with the Purple One. “Prince had the briefcase out on the floor. He clicked the lock and opened it, and took out the strangest, most singular pair of roller skates I had ever seen. They were clear skates that lit up, and the wheels sent a multicolored spark trail into your path…He took them out and did a big lap around the rink.”



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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com