As a musician and public figure, Prince was beloved for many unparalleled qualities. He paved the way for contemporary black popular music, he preempted zeitgeisty conversations about androgyny and the fluidity of gender, and he delivered weighty challenges to what he perceived as an exploitative music industry. But as much as Prince was a musical icon, the trove of stories that highlight his eccentric persona are inextricable from his legacy. Find a collection of tales below, each proof of an inimitable spirit who did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.
He once rented NBA Player Carlos Boozer’s house and made some unauthorized adjustments.
From ESPN in 2011:
"Supposedly, Prince changed the front gate to the Prince sign, he changed the master bedroom to a hair salon, he changed the streaming blue waters that led to the front door to purple water, he knocked out walls, he changed the molding on top of the ceiling. Booz was livid. So pissed off, so angry...He put his Purple Rain stamp on it...Booz was like, ‘I was getting ready to go over there and beat this little man down.’ And dude was just like ‘Here, Boozer, here is a little check for about a million, it'll take care of everything, get it back the way you want it.’ And Booz was like , ‘This little man is cool as hell.’“
He worked with Kevin Smith on an official (and still unreleased) documentary, and gave Smith a lifetime’s worth of hilarious anecdotes to share.
Years later, he invited Dave Chappelle, Neal Brennan, and Questlove to his hotel for a late-night family party.
And in 2014, he executed a legendary checkmate by using a picture of Chappelle dressed as him as official single artwork.
He once wore a $21 million diamond tank top to bake cookies and perform for an intimate crowd.
The story bout being at Princes house for a private 15 person concert and him showing me his real diamond tanktop will be top 10 story 4ever— BEN BALLER™ (@BENBALLER) April 21, 2016
Following a rough Outkast reunion performance at Coachella, he gave André 3000 a personal phone call.
From the New York Times in 2014: “A few hours before the Coachella show, I get a message that Prince and Paul McCartney are going to be there. My spirit is not right, and idols are standing side-stage, so as the show started, I’m bummed. This is horrible. In my mind I was already gone to my hotel room halfway through. So Prince called a couple days after. It was my first time actually talking to Prince. He said: ‘When you come back, people want to be wowed. And what’s the best way to wow people? Just give them the hits.’
I’m explaining to him that I really didn’t want to do it. He said: ‘I’ve been there. I’ve tried to do other things. After you give them the hits, then you can do whatever.’
He broke it down like this: ‘You’re a grown man. You’re either going to do it or you’re not.’”
His roller-skating skills were on point, says Questlove.
From Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According To Questlove: “Prince had the briefcase out on the floor. He clicked the lock and opened it, and took out the strangest, most singular pair of roller skates I had ever seen. They were clear skates that lit up, and the wheels sent a multicolored spark trail into your path...He took them out and did a big lap around the rink. Man. He could skate like he could sing.”
Back in the day, Prince generously returned a favor for photographer Deborah Feingold during an impromptu backstage shoot.
From Buzzfeed in 2014: “I get in the room, it’s the two of us, it’s a really teeny-tiny space. And I think after 12 shots, I didn’t know what the hell to do after that. I mean, really, what were Prince and I gonna talk about? After ‘Hi, how are you?’ what was there to say? He’s getting ready to go on stage for his first New York show, and I didn’t know what took over me but I just said, ‘Would you like to take a picture of me?’ So I now have a picture of me taken by Prince.
I didn’t know what the hell to do. I didn’t even finish one roll of film. Look at the picture of me, I’m just sitting like a dork smiling, and then there’s a picture of him all happy walking out the door.”
And gave poetic answers to the most basic of questions.
From Minneapolis City Pages in 2016: “Prince was rumored to have lurked in the shadows at some of the Replacements shows at First Avenue, but it was in the bathroom of a club in St. Paul where [Paul] Westerberg finally ran into him.
‘Oh, hey,’ said Westerberg, seeing the dolled-up singer standing next to him at the urinal. ‘What's up, man?’
Prince turned and responded in cryptic fashion: ‘Life.’”
Zooey Deschanel held a special place in Prince’s heart—so much so that he guested on a Super Bowl episode of her show.
From the Minnesota Star Tribune in 2014: “Prince contacted Deschanel by e-mail [in 2013], declaring that he only watched two things on TV: New Girl and the news. Cast members had their fair share of jitters during his three days on the set.
‘We do some strange stuff on the show, and he was up for all it,’ said Hannah Simone, [an actress on the show]. ‘I heard he had a really good sense of humor and he really does. He was wonderful, incredibly open, sweet and charming.’“