Over the last 60 years, The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger has seen many artists fly high before fluttering off into obscurity. The singer has rubbed shoulders with more than any other but, despite his experience, Jagger believes one late talent was cut from a different cloth from the rest.
Jagger has been around the block enough times to be able to sniff out a pretender and to know when somebody is the real deal. When he first became aware of Prince, The Rolling Stones leader was immediately captivated by what he heard and reached out to him regarding a support slot.
This moment was extremely early on in Prince’s career. He was yet to be understood by the public, not least by the crowd who frequented Stones concerts around that time. The Stones and ‘The Purple One’ sharing a bill for two nights at the LA Coliseum should have been a dream, but it all went horrifically wrong. His effeminate appearance worked up the crowd, who then jeered him and allegedly used racial insults, which prompted Prince to fly back to Minnesota before the second show after a tearful exit.
Jagger, who was upset by the scenes, persuaded Prince to fly back to Los Angeles to finish the run of shows. Interestingly, this wasn’t the only time the Stones frontman expressed his compassionate side towards the singer.
In 1995, he stuck up for Prince when everybody else had started to ridicule him. Prince had been embroiled in a bitter lawsuit with his record label and had started releasing music as the ‘Artist Formerly Known as Prince’. In the music press, he became a figure of fun, and Jagger didn’t believe this treatment of a generational talent was particularly fair.
“I think Prince is a great artist, very traditional in some ways,” he told Rolling Stone. “Prince has been overlooked. But he’s so incredibly in the mould of the James Brown sort of performer. He broke a lot of musical modes and invented a lot of styles, and couldn’t keep up with himself. Very prolific, which is rare.”
He continued: “Mostly people write three songs and repeat themselves. So Prince has a lot of talent as a writer, and I’ve seen great performances by Prince. He’s outperformed almost everyone. I’d rate him at the top. I don’t think there’s a lot of competition from new artists.”
It’s rare for Jagger to speak about anybody in such superlative terms, but Prince was different. Following his death in 2016, the frontman called him a “revolutionary artist” and said, “his talent was limitless”. In Jagger’s view, Prince was a one-off, and we’ll never see an all-rounder quite like him again.