Thursday, November 12, 2009

Skipper and Prince

This next true tale concerns one of the shortest yet most funky performers to ever come out of Minneapolis, not including the drummer for Husker Du -- I am talking of course about Prince. By the way, forget all that nonsense about your name being an unpronounceable symbol. That in my opinion is a blatant attempt to not only hide your true identity, but also make a lot of cash. I say whatever your name is, that is what you should answer to.

So we had a show in Minneapolis at a new club there called The Glam Slam. This was Prince's brand new club. It was so brand new that when we got there a crew of guys was applying varnish to a 50-foot-wide artist's rendering of the Prince symbol that took up the entire dance floor in front of the stage. We were not allowed to roll our amps or walk on or even really look at this work of art. It was supposed to be dry and finished by show time but we had our doubts.

This was one of those clubs where the band had to pay for water and the dressing rooms had furniture. There was no rock feeling whatsoever, and why we, the mighty and still-unknown NDI, were playing there was beyond any of us. But our manager at the time, Michael P. Halston, had wangled us a $135 guarantee on a Thursday night. Big money in those days.

We were playing that night with the truly weird but entertaining Dread Zeppelin. Some of you may remember these chicken-scratchers -- they played reggae versions of Led Zeppelin classics and their singer was an Elvis impersonator. Pretty much the whole enchilada! We admired the highness of their concept.

Our set was earth-shaking and we left the crowd in the usual stunned silence. Dread did their bit and played like champs.

The show was barely over and we were hanging out backstage, looking sharp, when every light in the club went dim and the music stopped. It was a spooky moment. Everybody froze. Then the first funkopated beats of the Prince classic "When the Doves Fly" came bumping out of the P.A. speakers. Suddenly the back stage door flew open and a flock of huge dudes in fur coats swarmed in. In their midst was a dwarf dressed in a sparkly ice-skater outfit. Obviously this shimmery little guy was a big deal, but it took us a few moments to realize that we were in the presence of the actual club owner himself: Prince! They cruised past us as we stood flat-footed, unsure what to do. Then Skipper, with nothing to lose, sprang into action.

"Hey, Prince!" he shouted.

Prince kind of turned his head a little and flashed a lovely smile and said, "Hey."

Well sir, that was enough for us. Within a day or two the story had written itself. Skipper and Prince had met and hit it off backstage at the Glam Slam, had exchanged phone numbers, and were planning to release a double album. This historical meeting of musical minds was immortalized in one of our biggest ignored hit songs: "Skipper and Prince," from the Loserville album. The song also includes a few other love connections we have made through the years: me and Dolly Parton, and Goodtime and Ringo, the drummer for the indescribable Country Rockers, from Memphis.

Okay then. That is enough about celebrities for a while. Next time maybe we'll talk about Estonia.

1 comment:

  1. The truth is, at that time, you would have been glad to pay the club $135 or even $140 to open for Dread Zepplin in Minneapolis at Prince's fancy new club! In fact, this retelling of that story made me smile widely more than once - isn't that worth $135 right there?

    (plus you probably sold $500 worth of NDI merch that night anyway)


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