Everybody loves a good Prince story. Even when he didn’t just shut down SXDSW with a reunited ATCQ and kill “Bambi” live on Jimmy Fallon, people love to tell Prince stories. Hell, people love Prince stories so much they they even love made-up ones (remember that time Prince went on OKCupid under the screen-name BabyImAStar?–him neither). But nothing is as satisfying as a real-life TACKAP sighting complete with all the major sacraments of musical genius, royal arrogance and, preferably, a mysterious disappearance in a puff of purple smoke.
As it happens,the Okayplayer TV crew recently found itself at the epicenter of real-life Prince stories: backstage at Michael Dorf Presents Music of Prince Tribute at Carnegie Hall and the “rehearsal performances” (see Bilal murder “Sister” here) which took place all day the previous day at City Winery with The Roots + Special guests. “Special guests” in this case included Bilal, D’Angelo, Chris Rock, Elvis Costello, Booker T. Jones, Alice Smith & Citizen Cope, Talib Kweli, Maya Rudolph & Gretchen Lieberum AKA Princess, as well as The Family (now playing as fDeluxe) and members of The Revolution. With personages like Nelson George and Touré on hand–not to mention Wendy Melvoin (of The Revolution and Wendy & Lisa) her sister Susannah (of The Family) as well as saxophonist Eric Leeds and his older brother Alan Leeds (Prince’s longtime tour manager)–the tribute was in fact something like a 48-hour family reunion and convention of amazing Prince stories, as well as testimonials from the younger musicians whose musical worldview has been irrevocably shaped by the purple legacy. We’ve saved some of the best war stories for closer scrutiny at a later date, but for now get a feel for the vibe backstage with this sizzle reel of reminiscences and insights from ?uesto, D’Angelo, Wendy and Susannah, Bilal, Booker T, Eric Leeds, Talib Kweli, Princess, Elvis Costello, Alice Smith, Citizen Cope and Nelson George–all speaking on the artist formerly known as “Steve” (true story! watch below).
Let’s talk about Prince: