In celebration of what would have been Prince’s 60th birthday, Variety collected stories from his bandmates, friends and colleagues that showed the lighter side of the artist. His sense of humor tended toward simple pranks, from tapping people on the opposite shoulder to food fights, or that time he was taken into custody for stealing a bullhorn on an airplane, but sometimes it also got a little out of hand. Take, for example, this story of light kidnapping, courtesy of guitarist Dez Dickerson:
He had our security guys kidnap members of The Time while they were onstage performing. It was hilarious seeing the audience’s reaction when one guy at a time was snatched and taken as a “prisoner of war” and somebody from our band would take their place. On the last show of the tour they kidnapped [Time guitarist] Jesse Johnson and Prince took his place, wearing a hat like Jesse’s. Prince and Matt and somebody else finished the set, and they didn’t miss a beat!
But probably my favorite story wasn’t a prank at all. It’s actually another insight into the strange relationship between Prince and Questlove. Now, Questlove has talked about the impact Prince had on his life, and he can even correctly identify Prince songs after hearing only a second of them. And in this story, from keyboardist Cassandra O’Neal, it turns out that Questlove also happened to collect money given to him by Prince.
We were doing a residency at Madison Square Garden in 2011 and we had an aftershow and the late, great Sharon Jones, who opened some of the shows, was playing. We’re watching them and they’re killing it, she’s so dope, Prince is sitting next to me, it’s a party, it’s the cap on a perfect day. Prince had on these leggings and he says (low voice) “You like my pants?” “Yes, they’re gorgeous.” We go back to listening — you didn’t really strike up conversations with him, you just let him lead. Then he says “They’re killing, aren’t they? ” “Oh yes.” “I should give her some money. Do you have any money?” because he didn’t carry cash. I had a $50 bill so I gave it to him and he says “I’ll be right back, save my seat.” So he melts into the crowd, comes back and says “I gave your $50 to Questlove.” “You did? Oh, okay.” So later I run into Quest and we made some smalltalk and I said, “By the way, did Prince give you a $50 bill?” He says [surprised], “Yeah, he did.” And I kinda jokingly said, “He was supposed to do something else with it, can I have it back?” And he said “No, because every time he sees me he always gives me a piece of money and I hang it up on my wall. So this 50 will make $163.25” or some very specific number like that — he really knew how much Prince had given him. He was very nice about it, then he says, “I can’t give you back that 50, but here, you can have this instead,” and gave me a $100 bill!
— Can you imagine having Prince just stick a $50 bill in your hand?
— The money was meant for Sharon Jones, which, like… did Prince end up giving her cash too? INQUIRING MINDS.
— I can’t help but wonder if maybe Questlove’s PrinceCash collection might be a way to make up for that time he was DJing for his idol, and Prince replaced him with a DVD of Finding Nemo: