It would be disingenuous not to acknowledge, right here at the top, that my coexistence with Prince was vexing.
Still, to me, Prince will always be the greatest music icon Minnesota produced.
I have previously described him as a musical genius. He was exhaustingly creative, between writing, producing, singing and often playing all the instruments on his songs. And what a performer and dancer, with a thoroughly commanding stage presence.
He was a genius, not just in the studio but in the hair salon. A former Prince stylist, VIP Hair & Nails hair dresser Patrick Wilson, once told me Prince could do his hair better than anybody he hired to manage his tresses.
We are fortunate to have seen him perform, up close and personal, and to have had him in our midst. His time on Earth was very likely a once-in-the-universe occurrence.
During our chance 1997 meeting, Prince called me his “biggest enemy,” and said he thought items I wrote about him were the fallout of my being “an old girlfriend.” I told him to take a good look at me: I didn’t in any way resemble the incredibly beautiful women he brought into his life. Prince said that he had a dream he and I might work together in the future.
I have a witness. My childhood friend Beverly Cochran was with me at the time — and was the first person to call me Thursday after the horrible news broke. I’m glad he never asked because I would have declined.
When I began this column, nobody was calling out Prince for his less-than-stellar behavior. The fact that I did, and nicknamed him Symbolina, appear to have seriously vexed him.
“What if I called you silly names, just like the ones that you call me?” Minnesota’s pop poet sang in the song “Billy Jack Bitch.”
He wrote a song, and I painted a portrait of him in dreadlocks which I titled: “Billy Jack THIS!”
To my face, of course, he said the song wasn’t about me. But someone close to Paisley Park let me hear a recording of Prince performing the song in LA. Near the end, he and the background singers clearly sing the words “C.J., Billy Jack Bitch.”
It is my favorite Prince song, although lyrically not nearly as poetic as some of his best. The beat, however, is killer.
No, as I have told those who ask, it did not bother me to be on the other end of this name-calling. I fared much better than “Darling, Nikki.”
And how interesting is it that I was irritating inspiration to Prince? It’s right up there with the time years ago that he noticed me from his Paisley Park stage. Minutes later one of his big guys vigorously tapped me three times on my right clavicle and spoke these words into my ear: “I’ve been asked to ask you to leave.”
I asked for my $100 back, the amount I paid to attend this fundraiser for Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton. The C-note swept into my vision like it was part of a magic act and I bounced … with an escort.
Sayles Belton tried to apologize for that when I saw her in August at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, and I told her no need.
What’s a better story: That Prince tolerated me at a Paisley Park show or that he kicked me out?
Sometime after that eviction I got even at a performance for whatever Dayton’s was calling itself at the time. I was among those standing in the front row. He saw me.
Our back and forth was fun. He was flawed and fascinating.
Any performer who had the audacity to wear buttless yellow brocade breeches is somebody with whom I could have become great pals under different circumstances. Butt I am at peace with the circumstances of my time with Prince. I’m going to miss him terribly.
Rest well, Prince.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.