Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Prince: The day I met the tiny pop superstar

Pop legend Prince has died at 57. Russell Blackstock recalls a late-night interview with him.

As I thrust my hand at tiny pop superstar Prince and blurted out "put it there, wee man," I had no idea the cheeky Scottish greeting would lead to the invitation of a lifetime.

In 1993 - at the height of his world fame - I was given a rare insight into his private world at his $15 million Paisley Park mansion and recording complex in Minneapolis.

I had travelled to his home city in the United States from my native Glasgow to review a Prince concert for a British newspaper, ahead of his UK tour.

His PR people had made it clear: I could speak to his band the New Power Generation but talking to or even approaching Prince was strictly out of bounds.

I arrived in Minneapolis a night ahead of the rest of the UK press pack and found an invitation to Prince's downtown nightclub Glam Slam pushed under my hotel room door.

I headed straight there but about midnight jetlag kicked in and there was no sign of Prince, so I decided to call it a night.

That was until a limo pulled up while I was waiting for a taxi. Out jumped Prince, decked out in a skin-tight, canary-yellow jumpsuit. He was surrounded by armed bodyguards who had handcuffs dangling from their belts and were screaming into walkie-talkies.

I went straight back into the club and got to within a few metres of the great man but there was no way past his security team.

Russell Blackstock may have put a ding in Prince's motorbike from Purple Rain. Photo / Sunday Mail
Russell Blackstock may have put a ding in Prince's motorbike from Purple Rain. Photo / Sunday Mail

However, when his main minder became momentarily distracted, I seized the opportunity. Clutching a bottle of beer, I slipped past the man-mountain and headed towards his boss.

For some reason, I yelled "put it there, wee man" and to my surprise an initially startled Prince suddenly broke into a laugh and accepted my handshake.

"I like it," he said. "Have a seat."

What followed was a scoop - an interview, of sorts, with a superstar who hadn't spoken to the press in many years.

It got even better. I was invited out to Paisley Park later that night to watch a 2am rehearsal.


I attended with a local taxi driver called Pele who I managed to sneak in as well. And with about 50 of Prince's friends we were treated to a mind-blowing personal performance from Prince and the New Power Generation.

The next day I was given a tour of the workshops where Prince's flamboyant stage outfits were made, followed by a visit to a store he was opening in the CBD selling Prince perfumes and clothing.

While I was there I couldn't resist sneaking a picture of myself astride the original motorbike from the Purple Rain movie. When I was getting off, however, I dropped it and the person who took the photo thought he saw a ding on the petrol tank.

Later than night, I was treated to another blistering Prince concert at Paisley Park. Then the next day the real reason for the overseas press being summonsed to Minneapolis was revealed - Prince was changing his name.

READ MORE: Raunchy Prince was actually a conservative Christian

Think you know Prince well enough? Try our Prince quiz.

His PR woman handed us sheets of paper with a "love symbol" printed on it and launched into a pretentious explanation of what it all meant and how this was how he would be known from then on.

Again I couldn't help myself. I piped up: "Sorry, this looks more like like a squiggle. Are you telling us Prince has changed his name to Squiggle?"

Much hilarity ensued. The poor PR woman was left tearing her hair out at being mercilessly ridiculed by a bunch of half-sozzled British tabloid reporters.

At 57, with more than 30 albums under his belt, Prince shows no signs of slowing down. To me, he is still a King, never mind a Prince.

Oh, and sorry about the bike, wee man.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 21 Oct 2016 13:34:33 Processing Time: 1545ms