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Music

Watch Prince's first-ever television interview from 1985

Legendary singer-songwriter Prince was much more than just a musician. His talents stretched to include most facets of the performing arts, and his aptitude in experimentalism and conceptual art was worthy of note. His interest in cinema was apparent throughout his career, and he was never far from a director’s radar when looking to spice up their production. 

After his breakthrough in the late 1970s, Prince would make it very clear that he set his sights on making it big on the screen as well as on the radio. Despite his fame, Prince only managed to appear in music videos and occasional TV performances in the early 1980s. 

With his ambitions at heart, he looked to produce a film to accompany his sixth studio album Purple Rain in 1984. The conceptual material was adapted into a musical drama film of the same name, which starred Prince as ‘The Kid’ and told a loosely autobiographical tale as the troubled character deals with the strains of leading his struggling band ‘The Revolution’ through the clubs of Minneapolis. The film was a major success for Prince and earned him the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The album was a commercial success as well, buoyed by hit number one singles ‘When Doves Cry’ and ‘Let’s Go Crazy’.

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In 1985, Prince was interviewed on television for the first time ever, following the career-defining success of Purple Rain the year before. He was questioned by manager Steve Fargnoli live on MTV at his own request.

Throughout the 10-15 minutes that Prince was on the air, he discussed the influence of James Brown on his career after he purportedly danced on stage with the Godfather of Funk, aged 10. Elsewhere in the interview, he cuts deeper, discussing fame, racism and the ongoing impacts of his work.

He is asked provocative questions about “selling out to a white audience” with Purple Rain.

“I strive for originality in my music,” he says with defiant charisma. “That was, and will always be the case.”

Watch the full interview below.