Prince was not a fellow short of a muse. The little Purple One had scores of relationships to celebrate and lament the loss of in song. During his time, he championed many more female musicians than his peers, which still remains highly creditable, as to this day as women are still hugely underrepresented in many areas of the industry.
Donna Grantis from the all-female band 3RDEYEGIRL, who played with Prince on live shows and albums in the latter stage of his career, once explained: “I think the respect and support he showed us, and other female musicians speaks volumes about his outlook on equality and sexism.”
However, as Susan Rogers, the sound engineer who worked with him extensively, remarked, there was a method behind his progressive approach in a multitude of ways. “Obviously he was a heterosexual man and enjoyed having beautiful women around,” Rogers says, “But he needed to the alpha male to get done what he needed to get done.”
While women may have always formed the backbone of his work, on more than a few occasions, they were the front and centre of the songs themselves. In fact, sometimes the guitar-God Lothario offered certain songs up with a figurative ribbon tied around them.
When it came to the plethora of female collaborators that Prince worked with, he was known to occasionally mix business and pleasure. Sheila E. met Prince for the first time in 1978 and settled down as his sticksmith. She quickly became somewhat more than that and resided as a confidant throughout his life.
Sheila E. remarks: “We were together for so long, I don’t know when we weren’t.” But not only did he write songs about her during that time, he also gave some away to her. Many of the tracks Prince never claimed a songwriting credit for, so it’s difficult to say how many, but the most notable is ‘A Love Bizarre’.
The song is a tale that talks of “outrageous sin” and details the moment that they “got kinda rough in the back of our limousine.” This song was foreshadowed by one of the very first things that Prince ever said to her. She walked in on a conversation he was having with bassist Andre Cymone, and Prince proclaimed backstage: “We’re just fighting about which one of us would be the first to be your husband.”
The alluring and sultry ‘A Love Bizarre’ turned out to be the perfect loving gift. While the pair may not have sustained an intimate relationship, the song launched Sheila E’s career as a solo star and she remained eternally grateful to be the benefactor of his gift. They remained friends and creative touchstones for one another forever after.