Morris Day Relives Prince’s Most Disastrous Performance

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Prince performing in the UK on the Dirty Mind tour in 1981 .
Photo by Richard E. Aaron for Redferns via Getty Images

Morris Day (literally) adds a lens on the fabled night Prince was booed off stage by Rolling Stones fans.

A childhood friend to Prince and, for a time, one of the late musician’s closes confidants, Morris Day has been witness to the heights and depths of a career defined by electric live performances. But in a new interview, The Time’s charismatic frontman recalled an early set that was severely lacking in voltage.

As the latest guest on Questlove Supreme, Day provided a wealth of new insight about his occasionally rivalrous relationship with Prince, including the many opportunities afforded (and stripped away) by the notoriously petty Purple One. One of those gigs was as the official Dirty Mind tour videographer, setting up a tripod with a bulky VHS camera in the wings of the stage to record shows for the band’s reference. Though it’s hard to image now, that lens caught at least one set gone terribly wrong, including the fabled night Prince was booed off stage by Rolling Stones fans.

“Oh man, that was traumatic,” Day recalls of the first of two Fall 1981 shows at the LA Coliseum, where Prince and the proto-Revolution joined a bill for the British rock darlings after catching the eye of Mick Jagger earlier that year in New York. “He’s going up there thinking, you know, he’s straight-up in Billy Idol mode,” Day recalls of Prince’s soon-to-be-shattered confidence as he took the stage with a setlist augmented to cater to this particular crowd. “You’re straight up in front of a hardcore rock and roll crowd. A lot of these guys were bikers and they just wasn’t hearing it,” Day recounts of the audience just as things began to go sour. “All of a sudden you start hearing the boos and the beer bottles start flying up on stage and I knew right at that moment that it was time to start making my way, with my, you know, little camera equipment, backstage because it wasn’t going to be nice,” Day added as he admitted that particular tape had somehow disappeared from his archive. That performance has been become regarded as a dark day for anyone in Prince’s crew, but also as a necessary hit that ultimately put the battery in his back.

Elsewhere in the interview, Day discusses his short-lived acting career following a breakout role in Purple Rain, the night Prince fired Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis from The Time, and his inspiration as a developing drummer. At almost three hours long, this one’s brimming with tales from the Paisley camp(s.)

Hear Morris Day relive Prince’s most disastrous performance on the latest episode of Questlove Supreme below.

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