Some day your Prince will come

THE quiet tittle man with bovine, brown eyes and a whisper of a ’tache stares absent-mindedly out of the hotel window across London’s rainswept rooftops.


Steve Sutherland




“Actually,” he decides finally with pronounced hesitation, “I think it’s much more embarrassing talking about these things than doing them. I mean, I find it a lot easier to sing swear words than to say them and when I first had a girl, I found it realty hard to tell my mother but. Lord knows, I didn’t feel embarrassed while I was doing it to her.”

The man shifts in his seat, fidgets with his fingers and smiles uneasily. He’s nervous – so nervous he gives me the jitters. I remember the quote from the New York Times: “With his sassy grace and precocious musicality he is heir to the defiant rock and roll tradition of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger.”

I look again at the slightly dishevelled figure sitting before me and figure I must be in the wrong room. Just to check l ask for his history and, yep, believe it or not, this is definitely Prince.

CHRISTENED by his father – a jazz musician – from his fictitious stage-name, Prince is the fairytale story of a Juvenile runaway who really made good. At only 20 he has two platinum albums behind him in the States and a third, “Dirty Mind", rapidly approaching the mark despite a total airplay due to the risque sexual, overtones of its lyrics. Already a critically-lauded star back home,” and accompanied by a wild reputation, he’s now making his first tentative foray into the foreign market with a one-off show at the Lyceum.

The first thing I was burning to know was what made a man referred to as the “solo Bee Gees of the libido” by Rolling Stone on account of his falsetto vocals and naughty-naughty songs, take to the stage, with his five-piece band, dressed in a studded leather coat, Y-Fronts and black thigh-length tights?

To me it’s not outrageous, it’s comfortable,” he replies, trying to force a smile. “I’ve always dressed the way I’ve wanted to and if it goes with the music, it’s only because the music is part of me and so is the way I dress. I don’t try to do anything to shock people or to make money – that would make me a hooker”.

PRINCE is not a prat but ’ neither is he the wunderkind America desperately tries to make him out to be. He’s accomplished – he’s master of 26 instruments, composes and plays virtually everything on all his albums and is the youngest person ever to self-produce for Warner Brothers- he’s flash, intelligent, a bit too self-obsessed for easy conversation, a little bit silly and kinda strange too.

Things like his father leaving home, his brother flitting in and out of slam and a period lodging with his sister all seem to hold a fathomless fascination for him and he constantly calls upon his past, almost endowing it with some spiritual significance, as he struggles to explain the motives behind his music.

“I saw an analyst once because I was wondering why I was so sexual-minded and why I wanted to go against the grain so much because it got me into a lotta trouble a lotta times” he reluctantly confides. “He asked me to talk about my childhood y’know, ’when you first experienced this and first experienced that?’ I realised that, when I was young, I used to read my mother’s dirty novels and I was more taken with them than anything – it was a lot better than comic books.”

This apparent self-discovery has, he claims, not only enabled him to develop as a more full, unfettered personality but has given him new confidence in his work.

“It was a revelation recording this last album,” he explains more excitedly, “I realised that I could write just what was on my mind and things that I’d encountered and I didn’t have to hide anything. The lyric on the new album is straight from the heart whereas the other albums were more feelings, more dreams and fantasies and they stuck to the more basic formulas that I’d learned through playing top 40 material in old bands. That’s probably why they were so big but that’s really upsetting for me because you say to yourself, “Well, do I just wanna be real big or do I wanna do something I’ll be proud of and really enjoy playing?’

” ’l wanna Be Your Lover’ was a big hit off the second album,” he continues, “but it was hard for me to play that song after, a while. I’ll never get sick of playing the stuff from the ’Dirty Mind’ album because I’ll always remember what state of mind I was enduring the time it was recorded.”

THE frankness of the third album, dealing with strictly taboo subjects like incest and lesbianism, was bound to keep it off the radio despite its seductive disco settings but the subsequent notoriety ensured the sales and anyway, according to Prince:

“The sales weren’t important. There were points, I must admit, on the first two albums where I was writing to get a hit but that was too easy. I don’t like to do things that’s easy - it’s more of a challenge for me to write exactly what happens, exactly what I feel at that particular time. If I think a certain thought and I put it down on paper-exactly like I hear it in my head, that’s a challenge to me as a writer.

“More than my songs have to do with sex,” he says, “they have to do with one human’s love for another which goes deeper than anything political that anybody could possibly write about. The need for love, the need for sexuality, basic freedom, equality... I’m afraid of these things don’t necessarily come out. I think my problem is that my attitude’s so sexual that it overshadows anything else that I might not mature enough as a writer to bring it all out yet

“I’m gonna stop this soon,” he suddenly spurts. “I don’t expect to make many more records for the simple reason that I wanna see my life change. I wanna be there when it changes, I don’t wanna just be doing what’s expected of me. I just wanna live ... until it’s time to die...”

He trails off and that’s the end of the interview. I rise, reach the door and turn to say goodbye but he’s already back there, gazing out the window.

I remember a line from one of his songs: “Sex related fantasy is all that my mind can see,” and ponder on the dark, mysterious beauty turning tricks in the private bedroom of his mind.