Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Prince to Kiwi 'I wanna be your lover'

New Zealanders who spent time in musician's company remember a warm soul. Tess Nichol reports.
Music star Prince romantically pursued a Kiwi woman in the 1990s and even hired an entire movie theatre on one date. But Darlene Daley said the two of them just became good friends. Photo / Supplied
Music star Prince romantically pursued a Kiwi woman in the 1990s and even hired an entire movie theatre on one date. But Darlene Daley said the two of them just became good friends. Photo / Supplied

Music star Prince romantically pursued a Kiwi woman in the 1990s and even hired an entire movie theatre on one date.

But Darlene Daley said the two of them just became good friends.

The Purple Rain singer was found dead yesterday at his Paisley Park estate just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The cause of death remains a mystery, but it was reported the 57-year-old was treated for a drug overdose six days before he was found unresponsive in a lift inside his $10 million home.

Ms Daley met the singer at West Hollywood's Bar One and Prince - who was at that point in his "formerly known as" phase - called her after to ask her out to a movie, closing the theatre off just for the two of them.

They went on a couple of dates but Ms Daley said she couldn't get past the singer's height.

"It started as dating but it just went to friends," she told the Herald.

"I was a lot taller than him and it just felt a bit strange. I'm 5 foot 9 (1.79m) and he's tiny, so no."

However, the two of them had a connection and remained friends.

Ms Daley remembers calling him "mate" at the time, as he did not want to be called Prince.

"He loved that and so did a lot of his staff. They all found that extremely funny."

They were close for about a year and kept in touch beyond that, Ms Daley said.

Prince was every bit as glamorous in his day to day life as he was in the public eye she said, remembering a trip to the movies.

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"He had high heels on and his hair was 5 inches tall with glitter in it.

"Everyone stared at us, it was so funny. He was always done up - when he was Prince he was Prince."

An enormous hair and makeup room in his Hollywood home, bigger than his bedroom, was where he would get ready to go out, Ms Daley remembered.

The iconic artist was always surrounded by creative people, she said, and was talented not just on the guitar and piano but the harp and the flute too.

"He was such a brilliant man.

"He'd often play his harp at home - he had a huge, gold harp in his place in Los Angeles. He'd sit down and play it out of nowhere, it was quite amazing."

Despite his reputation for being somewhat aloof and at times difficult, Ms Daley said he was a great friend.

"He was just a lovely person. He has gone too early."

Award winning singer Jenny Morris considers herself one of the lucky few people who met and performed with the influential musician.

Morris, now the chairwoman of Apra, was invited by Prince to open for him as his support act around Europe in 1990.

At the time she had a hit with her song Saved Me, which Prince had heard in a club and liked so much he had invited her to perform on his tour.

As Morris remembers, everyone on the tour was given a list of instructions on how to behave around Prince, such as not being able to look him directly in the eye.

"He was very reclusive, especially at that time in his life, so we had this list of rules that we had to adhere to like 'don't look Prince in the eye, don't approach him and don't talk to him'."

Despite these directions, she remembers how warm he was, even taking time to play with her then 2-year-old son, Hugh, who she had on tour with her.

Everyone stared at us, it was so funny. He was always done up - when he was Prince he was Prince.
Darlene Daley

"Lots of times Prince would play with him in the catering room. He would take him over to the other side of the room with him and throw balls or bread rolls or whatever," she said.

He may not have said much, but Morris remembers his warm gaze.

"Prince was a very warm person. On several occasions he stood on the route between my dressing room and stage and when I went past he would look at me and was very warm and engaging, kind of that Prince flirty thing that he did," she said.

The musician also sent her flowers on her birthday.

Kiwi DJ duo Chris Scott and Sandon Ihaia, aka Sweet Mix Kids, were planning on playing a Prince tribute set at Coachella to "pay respect to one of the most colourful and eclectic artists to ever inspire [them]".

"Prince proved the ability to showcase many genres of music through many realms of fashion, looks and sounds," Scott said. "The strength of how he crossed sexualities and attire, and how he supported women in music, so too his humanity and community work showed that it was about more than just chart hits, it was a lifestyle about helping the people."

Sweet Mix Kids would be playing remixes, old classics, lesser known disco and funk tracks in their tribute.

Prince's biggest hits have raced to the top of Kiwi iTunes download charts since his death. Purple Rain was at number one on the iTunes chart in New Zealand yesterday morning, with Raspberry Beret at number four and When Doves Cry at number seven.

The Very Best of Prince was number one and Ultimate: Prince number two in the albums chart.

Meanwhile, Kiwi fans have also been flocking to music stores in search of Prince records.

Chris Hart, owner of Real Groovy in central Auckland, said there were three people waiting at the door this morning when they opened.

"And they pretty well cleaned out the Prince vinyl section of all the second hand ones. One guy had probably ... it looked like eight or 10 albums under his arm."

Mr Hart said there had been a steady flow of Prince sales since - a typical trend after an artist died.

- Additional material: AP

- NZ Herald

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