Of all the legendary stories that surfaced after Prince‘s untimely passing last week, one may have stuck out above the rest. Only Prince would have the audacity to taunt Michael Jackson at a show in front of thousands of people by playing bass right in his face. Only Prince.
Up until now, the story was only a second-hand account, via the biographyMJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson by Steve Knopper. Well, thanks to Ellen DeGeneres and Will.I.Am, we finally have the incredible first hand account, including a hilarious set of phone calls, a small peak into the life of both Prince and Mike, and Will’s own perfect impression of the two legends.
Will details Michael calling him asking about a show he was doing with the Black Eyed Peas in Las Vegas, only to learn that he won’t be able to attend because, as Michael put it, “Oh rats, I gotta put the kids to sleep.” So Will lets him know that he also has a second show with Prince later that he may be able to make it to, to which Mike replies, “Oh I don’t know, Prince and I have always been at odds with each other.”
This is where the story gets a tad ludicrous, because Will has the audacity to tell the King of Pop, “I’ll call you right back.” It’s for good reason because he then calls Prince and asks for accommodations for Michael, and Prince obliged.
So with Mike set up, Will enjoyed the show in a special section with Michael, Prince’s manager, and Chris Tucker, and as you can guess, Prince went full on Prince. According to Will’s story, Prince made his way to the section and provocatively played the slap bass right in Michael’s face to humiliate him. According to Will, “Michael Jackson is like, ‘What’s up with Prince playing the bass in my face?’” and Prince made his way back to the stage. According to Knopper’s book, Michael Jackson was furious the next day:
Michael was outraged. And then started going on. ‘Prince has always been a meanie. He’s just a big meanie. He’s always been not nice to me. Everybody says Prince is this great legendary Renaissance man and I’m just a song-and-dance man, but I wrote “Billie Jean” and I wrote “We Are the World” and I’m a songwriter too.’
Maybe Prince was still mad about that time Mike “set him up” to look bad in front of James Brown? Maybe Prince was just that petty? Or maybe the competitive juices got flowing and he couldn’t let the opportunity slip past him. Whatever the case, it’s just one more story to add to his legendary biography.