Prince first hit the cover of Rolling Stone 30 years ago
A lot of things have changed in the past 30 years, but several of the controversial aspects of Prince were already fully established. For his first Rolling Stone cover story, which hit stands three decades ago this week, his twisted relationship with the press is as much of the story as the music itself.
Writer Debby Miller has quotes from Prince from other sources, but he refused to be interviewed for the story -- though the Purple One appears with his protege Vanity in a Richard Avedon photo on the cover. In the first of a half-dozen cover stories about him, Miller expertly traces the people from around the MInneapolis scene and Prince's family to fill in a fascinating portrait of the pre-Purple Rain era.
The story details his north Minneapolis childhood, early years playing music with André Cymone, and working extensively with Morris Day, and fills in many of the gaps leading to his 1999 stage show, which at the time included flying aboard "the Seduction 747."
One excellent anecdote that'll have us archive-digging later today is this: "When Prince won an award from a Minneapolis weekly newspaper for Minnesota Musician of the year, he showed up in his most formal clothes - black trench coat and white go-go boots (his acceptance speech: 'When do they give the award for the best ass?')."
The expertly written prose also creatively dances around Prince's Jamie Starr persona that in a pre-internet age was still possible to keep cloaked in the shadow of doubt. "Others who are close to Prince also say that he is Jamie Starr, but they refuse to be quoted in print."
In any case, looking back at the guy "ready to marry funky black dance music and punky white rock music" is a telling and playful read, and an opportunity to show what extensive leg work a creative journalist can do to get a compelling story filed when the star subject is reticent to speak.