This blog post was published on April 17, 2016.
Prince is alive and well. He wanted to prove that so he invited people to Paisley Park on Saturday night for the deep-discount price of a mere $10.
Announced late Saturday morning via Twitter, it was billed as a dance party. But, with Prince, things are seldom as advertised or expected. Shortly after midnight, two hours into the dance party with DJ Pam the Funkstress, Prince appeared.
It was show-and-tell time. He wanted to show off his new purple Yamaha piano (he played “Chopsticks” and a brief instrumental passage with a classical flourish) and his brand-new metallic purple guitar (he didn’t play it; more on that later).
You may have heard the hubbub on Friday, first reported by TMZ, not necessarily the bastion of accuracy. Prince’s private plane made an emergency landing early Friday morning in Illinois as he was returning to the Twin Cities from two shows in Atlanta on Thursday. TMZ said he had the flu. (He had postponed the Atlanta show from the previous week because of the flu.)
A source close to Prince told me that the singer was dehydrated on the flight home.
Prince himself wanted to clarify the situation on Saturday: “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.”
Typically cryptic Prince, indeed.
He was a little clearer on other subjects. He explained that he was hoping to release a live album of one of the Atlanta concerts on his Piano and a Microphone Tour.
The new piano at Paisley, which was covered by a cloth that was ceremoniously removed, was different from the one he’d played in that same room in January when he kicked off his Piano and a Microphone Tour. That instrument was a Yamaha piano shell with some jerry-rigged insides, including electronics. The new one is a self-contained piano.
Prince also brought out a shiny guitar case (purple, natch), placed it atop the piano and opened it to show off his new purple guitar that was made for him in Europe. But he declined to play the new instrument.
“I have to leave it in the case or I’ll be tempted to play it,” he explained in a hand-held microphone on a long cord. “I can’t play the guitar at all these days so I can keep my mind on this [the solo piano] and get better.”
Similarly, he said he doesn’t listen to a lot of music “unless it’s stuff I already know.” He said it’s hard to listen to new music and concentrate on his piano work.
In fact, earlier in the evening about 7:30, he stopped by the Electric Fetus in south Minneapolis and purchased a handful of CDs, including a Stevie Wonder oldie. Yes, he knew it was Record Store Day.
During his less-than-5-minute appearance at Paisley, Prince chided a fan for taking a picture. “Security,” he barked playfully. Then he said it was OK to let her stay.
Prince concluded by saying he was giving the 200 or so Paisley-goers a present – a half-hour of the live concert from Atlanta broadcast over the Paisley sound system.
He never intended to perform on Saturday. There was no microphone stand next to his piano. He just wanted to demonstrate that reports of his dire health were greatly exaggerated.