During his career, Prince developed a reputation for being an intensely private person – although his outrageous dress sense and iconic stage presence would beg to differ.
It’s also well known that he gave precious few interviews over the years from the humble beginnings of his career through to his untimely, tragic death this year.
Now, Wakelet has curated an archive of every interview Prince ever did – starting with one from his high school newspaper in 1976. In that interview, Prince complained that he was finding it “hard to become known.”
“I think it is very hard for a band to make it in this state, even if they’re good. Mainly because there aren’t any big record companies or studios in this state. I really feel that if we would have lived in Los Angeles or New York or some other big city, we would have gotten over by now,” he told Minneapolis Central High School’s newspaper.
In one interview with Rolling Stone in 1985, The Purple One gave a glimpse into his psyche and revealed a little of why he gave so few interviews – especially in his early days.
“I used to tease a lot of journalists early on,” he says, “because I wanted them to concentrate on the music and not so much on me coming from a broken home. I really didn’t think that was important. What was important was what came out of my system that particular day. I don’t live in the past. I don’t play my old records for that reason. I make a statement, then move on to the next.”
In 1995, Prince gave an interview with NME that chronicled his struggles with labels – specifically at the time whilst he was signed with Warner who were very restrictive in how they would allow him to release music. “I’d like to put out 700,000 copies of some blues guitar music with a guitar magazine but WB don’t let me. I’d give away a single with just the A-side and tell people to come back next year and buy the B-side. Record companies are run by men who think they run America. They think they’re the smartest but they’re not. They don’t know what’s going on in my mind.”
He also wanted to release music online very early on, an idea that was unprecedented at the time – and unsurprisingly Warner were again not on board with the idea. “Once the Internet is a reality the music business is finished. There won’t be any need for record companies. If I can send you my music direct. What’s point of having a music business?”
An interview he did with The Telegraph in 2004 provided one of the first insights into what it meant for Prince to be a Jehovah’s Witness. “Words are inadequate! Now you’re talking about the source of truth! Feel me now,” he says. “Feel me now… You want to talk about scripture? We can talk about scripture. But that’s a lifetime right there!”
In his final documented interview with Cuepoint in 2015, Prince reflected back on the struggles that face young musicians who are forced to answer to labels to be successful. “Can you imagine what would happen if young people were free to create whatever they wanted? Can you imagine what that would sound like?”
His final recorded words… “You know people always ask me… Why don’t I get the Revolution back together?” Prince pauses, then turns and smiles. “But, I mean… for what?”
Watch: Prince’s First Television Interview (1985)