WordPress advises me that this is my 500th post. Thanks to all who visited this blog in 2018 and especially to those who commented frequently. Here’s to a great 2019.
His shit was the most exciting music I was hearing in 1982. – Miles Davis on Prince as quoted at Pitchfork.
Jazzman Miles Davis was a fan of Prince. Or I should say it was a mutual lovefest. What Prince really related to about Miles was his character,” Prince’s saxophonist Eric Leeds told The Last Miles, “his legacy, his mystique and everything that Miles represented as a personality.
Prince saw in Miles so much of what he thought of himself – the person that goes against the grain, that’s opinionated, that doesn’t allow himself to be controlled by any aspect of the industry for his own artistic vision. And that’s very much what Miles saw in Prince. He saw a young version of himself.”
The feeling was mutual. “There are multiple pages in Miles: The Autobiography where Davis focused on his appreciation for the Purple One, comparing Prince’s vocal delivery to Sonny Rollins’ saxophone-playing and musing on his funk pedigree like a learned aficionado. When the folks at Davis’ then-new label Warner Bros. informed him mid-decade that labelmate Prince considered him among his musical heroes, you can envision the smile beaming from the trumpet great’s face as he penned, “I was happy and honored that he looked at me in that way.”
Miles saw himself in Prince—a man who always wanted to push his art in new and challenging directions despite what was considered proper within the confines of such superfluous terms as “jazz,” “pop,” or “R&B.” For both men, it was all just varying layers of “social music,” as Davis termed his craft during a 1969 interview in Rolling Stone.
“He’s got that church thing up in what he does,” Davis continued in his autobiography. “He plays guitar and piano and plays them very well. But it’s the church thing that I hear in his music that makes him special, and that organ thing. It’s a black thing and not a white thing. … He’s the music of the people who go out after ten or eleven at night. For me, he can be the new Duke Ellington of our time if he just keeps at it.”
Despite a few failed attempts at collaborating with each other in the in the mid-1980s, the two did come together to play a show at Paisley Park on December 31, 1987, where Prince rang in the new year with a benefit concert for the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. Tickets were $200 per person ($450 in 2018 dollars), with 400 people in attendance that night at Paisley Park.
Although Davis wasn’t on stage with Prince the whole time, the two played together on a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” and Davis remembered his experience visiting Paisley Park in his autobiography, where Prince actually hosted him overnight, a rare honor.
“When Prince asked me to come to Minneapolis to bring in the new year of 1988 and maybe we could play a song or two together, I went. In order to become a great musician, the musician has to have the ability to stretch and Prince can certainly stretch,” Davis wrote. “Me and [bassist] Foley went out to Minneapolis. Man, Prince has got a hell of a complex out there. Record and movie equipment, plus he had an apartment for me to stay in. The whole thing seems like it’s about a half a block.”
Ok, so this isn’t “Auld Lang Syne” but you’ll probably get enough of that tonight. And really, who cares when you have these two greats together for the first (and only) time:
Sources: Wikipedia; Pitchfork; Diffuser; The Current (online mag)