It must have been in the mid-1980s when I met Prince’s manager Steve Fargnoli, who basically invited me to hang around and come to any show I wanted. Prince kept people at arm’s length and only spoke to the people he knew very well, but his father, John Nelson, and I got on like a house on fire. During a tour that led the band through Europe, I got to share some very private moments with Prince through John. The biggest treat for me was when I was invited to have dinner after a show at five A.M. Prince opened the door of his suite wearing pink silk pajamas. There were only the three of us, but Prince still did not talk very much. John and I had a ball, though, laughing and chatting away. Prince was pleased to see his dad have fun.
John and I even made music together: he played the piano while I sang silly old standards like George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” John wrote a bossa nova song for me called “The Wind, the Trees and the Leaves,” which I still sing to this day.
When Daddy John came along I was able to ride in Prince’s car with the two of them. It was at the height of Prince’s stardom, and thousands of kids waited at any entrance or exit he went through. My husband, Johannes, a good friend of Mick Jagger’s, did not quite understand why I got so excited about Prince, until he came along to a show in Paris. After he witnessed the Prince show and saw how John Nelson took care of me, he was totally cool with letting me travel with the band to other European cities.
The most fascinating thing to witness was Prince as a control freak. Everything was directed by him—literally, everything: the stage design, the clothes—nothing was left to chance. He had his own atelier and he designed everything for himself and the band. He produced all of his own albums, and played and recorded most of the instruments himself. After reading about Jerry Auerswald, a guitar maker in Germany who used wood more than 100 years old, I had one made for Prince all in white. I delivered it to him in a transparent case; it looked like Snow White. Prince was surprised and happy, and so thrilled with the quality of the sound that he told me he re- recorded all of the guitar tracks of his album Sign o’ the Times with this new guitar.
fter John Nelson passed away in 2001 I lost contact with Prince. Years later, when he had a show in London, I decided to go and see him. I was lucky because I spotted Elton John and David Furnish, who took me along backstage.
Prince seemed pleased to see me after so many years, and he gave me all the necessary backstage passes to return to see the show the next day.
I tried to reach Prince again two weeks before he died. I researched through the Internet whom I could call, and I even e-mailed Jon Bream, the Minneapolis Star Tribune music critic, hoping he could help me with a telephone number. Finally I got a number from an agent in Denmark. By that time the news of his sudden death had broken.
What can I say? I really wanted to get in touch. Now, I can pray for him, knowing that he was a faithful Christian. This is probably the best way to connect.