What sound do you get from different members of the Revolution?
Bobby Z was the first one to join. He's my best friend. Though he's not such a spectacular drummer, he watches me like no other drummer would. Sometimes, a real great drummer, like Morris, will be more concerned with the lick he is doing as opposed to how I am going to break it down.
Mark Brown's just the best bass player I know, period. I wouldn't have anybody else. If he didn't play with me, I'd eliminate bass from my music. Same goes for Matt [Fink, the keyboard player]. He's more or less a technician. He can read and write like a whiz, and is one of the fastest in the world. And Wendy makes me seem all right in the eyes of people watching.
She keeps a smile on her face. When I sneer, she smiles. It's not premeditated, she just does it. It's a good contrast. Lisa is like my sister. She'll play what the average person won't. She'll press two notes with one finger so the chord is a lot larger, things like that. She's more abstract. She's into Joni Mitchell, too.
What about the other bands? Apollonia, Vanity, Mazarati, the Family? What are you trying to express through them?
A lot has to do with them. They come to me with an idea, and I try to bring that forth. I don't give them anything. I don't say, "Okay, you're going to do this, and you're going to do that." I mean, it was Morris' idea to be as sick as he was. That was his personality. We both like Don King and got a lot of stuff off him.
Because he's outrageous and thinks everything's so exciting – even when it isn't.
People think you control those bands, that it's similar to Rick James' relationship with the Mary Jane Girls. A lot of people think he's turning all the knobs.
I don't know their situation. But you look at Sheila E. performing, and you can just tell she's holding her own. The same goes for the Family. You and I were playing Ping-Pong, and they were doing just fine.
After all these years, does the music give you as much of a rush as it used to?
It increases more and more. One of my friends worries that I'll short-circuit. We always say I'll make the final fade on a song one time and . . . [Laughs, dropping his head in a dead slump]. It just gets more and more interesting every day. More than anything else, I try not to repeat myself. It's the hardest thing in the world to do – there's only so many notes one human being can muster. I write a lot more than people think I do, and I try not to copy that.
I think that's the problem with the music industry today. When a person does get a hit, they try to do it again the same way. I don't think I've ever done that. I write all the time and cut all the time. I want to show you the archives, where all my old stuff is. There's tons of music I've recorded there. I have the follow-up album to 1999. I could put it all together and play it for you, and you would go "Yeah!" And I could put it out, and it would probably sell what 1999 did. But I always try to do something different and conquer new ground.
In people's minds, it all boils down to "Is Prince getting too big for his breeches?" I wish people would understand that I always thought I was bad. I wouldn't have got into the business if I didn't think I was bad.
This story is from the September 12th, 1985 issue of Rolling Stone.
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