Prince wages war on fans

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      Maybe you were watching Late Night With Jimmy Fallon back on March 1, when Prince dropped by to play a couple of songs. If so, your jaw probably dropped when the Purple One tore through one of his oldest tunes, the blazing 1979 rocker “Bambi”, and then tossed his guitar away. Only it wasn’t his guitar. The instrument in question, a 1961 Epiphone Crestwood, was a loaner from “Captain” Kirk Douglas, a member of the Roots, the Late Night house band. Prince asked Douglas if he could borrow the Epiphone, and what do you say to an honest-to-God pop-culture icon? No?

      For being a nice guy, Douglas ended up with a broken guitar. Adding a splash of irony to this already heady cocktail of misery, the guitarist later tweeted that he had been planning to play the Crestwood at a Prince tribute concert a few nights later. Oh, snap!

      It was a total dick move on Prince’s part, but you know what? Prince is a total dick. What else would you call a man who, like King Canute commanding the tide to stop coming in, has been waging a one-man war on the Internet? Sure, online music theft has taken money out of the pockets of every artist from Katy Perry to Diarrhea Planet, but the hobbit-size superfreak born Prince Rogers Nelson isn’t just battling piracy, he’s locked in full-on mortal combat with the World Wide Web itself. Hell, he went so far as to hire the Web Sheriff.

      That’s not a joke. There actually is a self-appointed Web Sheriff, a U.K.–based copyright-protection firm that Prince hired with the apparent intention of erasing every last trace of his existence from the Internet. In 2007, he announced that he was going to sue eBay and YouTube, citing their inability or unwillingness to stop people from posting unauthorized content. In other words, Prince doesn’t want you watching his videos on YouTube, which means, essentially, that he doesn’t want you seeing them again at all, ever. (Perhaps he is convinced MTV will start showing music videos again—which it probably will, right around the time Ford fires up its Model T assembly line and RadioShack starts stocking 8-track players.)

      That same year, Prince’s suits got in touch with three fan sites, ordering them to take down images of the artist. AEG, Prince’s promoter, claimed that the only offending items were live shots from a series of concerts at London’s O2 Arena, but the fans operating the sites said they were asked to cease and desist in the use of all photos, album covers, and anything else bearing Prince’s likeness. It seems that if you want to call yourself a Prince fan, you had best be prepared to be punished for it by the man himself.

      Just ask visual artist Troy Gua. For his project Le Petit Prince, the Seattleite made 10-inch models of the singer—practically life-size—and photographed them in some of his most iconic poses. It was a labour of love driven entirely by a deep admiration of Prince’s work, so naturally the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince had his lawyers fire off a cease-and-desist order.

      Nor are celebrities safe from the wrath of Alexander Nevermind. Last October, Mark Foster of Foster the People was unceremoniously booted from a Prince show for daring to glance at his cellphone. You’re not allowed to take pictures of Prince, you see, because it drains the mojo from his freaky sexy love chakra. Or something like that. In any case, Foster, who said he was only reading a text, ditched the phone and begged his way back in. It’s hard to blame the guy for being contrite. Prince—who plays two shows per night at the Vogue Theatre on Monday and Tuesday (April 15 and 16)—may be one of music’s most insufferable douchenozzles, but he still puts on one hell of a performance. (Whether said performance is worth $250 per ticket is debatable.)

      Oh, and then there was the time he was playing Madison Square Garden in February of 2011, when he told Kim Kardashian, “Get off the stage!” Hey, the guy may be an asshole, but sometimes he makes the right call. 

      Comments

      14 Comments

      A. MacInnis

      Apr 10, 2013 at 3:26pm

      Other than having once reached a momentous orgasm as a teenager masturbating to the girls in a Prince video (which, in fact, backfired, since I ejaculated directly into my right eye, resulting in most unpleasant burning sensations; do NOT get semen in your eyes, folks... or at least not mine!) - I have NEVER had any use for this guy's music or much understood his celebrity. Even Michael Jackson, I can "get," though I don't ever listen to him voluntarily, but I have never not found a song of Prince's anything less than irritating, and cannot understand anyone paying $20 to see him, let alone $250. Hearing what a twat he is doesn't help matters...

      A. MacInnis

      Apr 10, 2013 at 3:28pm

      Jeez, did I commit a triple negative or a quadruple one, there? "never not found a song of Prince's anything less than irritating"... I fear that may have gotten away from me... but y'all know what I meant...

      DavidH

      Apr 10, 2013 at 3:48pm

      I have never not found a story about masturbating into one's own eye so very, very sad.

      A. MacInnis

      Apr 10, 2013 at 5:20pm

      I mean, I *was* 13 or so, in the days before the internet... Options for "inspirational material" were fewer...

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      Rosamond

      Apr 10, 2013 at 7:10pm

      prince not a people-pleaser . he's an original... good for him !

      Chicago

      Apr 10, 2013 at 8:54pm

      I think he doesn't want to be idolized. Good for him.

      seamus

      Apr 10, 2013 at 10:51pm

      you mean an artist who actually wants to own his own image? an artist who forces you to be present with him instead of watching the whole show through a camera lens? an artist who believes that an artist is someone who can step out on stage night after night and give fans a scorching 6 hours of live music? Yeah. What a dickhead!!!

      coastguarder

      Apr 10, 2013 at 11:30pm

      I'd just say this in response seamus...once an artist creates something and it is available to be admired, consumed whatever, it will be consumed or viewed or ignored in the manner that the listener, reader, watcher whatever desires and not how the artist wants...that's the way it goes

      Music Lover

      Apr 11, 2013 at 2:02am

      Thanks for a very amusing article, John Lucas. Really. LMFAO!

      Sarahjoliv

      Apr 11, 2013 at 12:39pm

      Well written as per usual John. What he did to Kirk's axe.....unforgivable!