In February of 2004, I had the opportunity to attend the Grammys and several other star studded events that same weekend – most of those stories are for another day. 2004 was an amazing year with nominees like Justin Timberlake up for his first solo album.
It was also the year that Prince and Beyonce opened the event (I don’t think the broadcast aired in that order, however) and Outkast took home the award for best album at the end of the night. The entire weekend was magical for me but, again, many of those stories are for another time.
While in Los Angeles, I stayed at The Beverly Hills Hotel and as The Grammys grew closer, celebrities started popping up everywhere. Saturday night, before the main event, I found myself hanging out in the bar area alone, waiting for some friends to stop making fools out of themselves outside the entrance to the Quincy Jones party (an event I did NOT have an invitation to – damn it!). But while they were out in the lobby, I was having some pretty amazing experiences all on my own in the bar.
I shared a toast with Madonna, I had a conversation at the bar with Alicia Keys, and after one too many drinks, I found myself bumping into a very big, very tall, very angry looking man who looked like he wanted to murder me. But behind him was the most beautiful, short man wearing tall boots I had ever seen – a man who heavily influenced the shape of pop music for generations to come. Behind the man who wanted to punch me in the face, stood Prince.
Now, any sane person would recognize that this crazy bodyguard had no problem taking down an aggressive female fan, but in the presence of Prince, how could any woman in her right mind be expected to act ‘sane?’ This was Prince. He was the man behind “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” and (again, another story for another day) the song that meant the most to me, “1999.” Without Prince there would be no “Nothing Compares to You” from Sinead O’Connor, or “Stand Back” from Stevie Nicks, and no “Manic Monday” from The Bangles. There was no way a bodyguard was going to stop me!
Except he did. Hard.
And I went down. Hard.
When the bodyguard helped me up again, so as not to look like a total jerk (which, he kind of was – did he think I could have secretly be a ninja?), I did what no sane person trying to look like an industry insider would do… I started crying. I became that stupid girl in The Beatles footage or the idiot woman that fainted when Elvis was in the building… I couldn’t control my emotions and they were all coming out.
Prince was beyond tired, that much was very clear. He did not want to deal with a weeping girl after whatever kind of night he had. But instead of passing me by, he turned to me, stepped out, still mostly behind his bodyguard, and said, wait for it… the man looked me dead in the eye and said, “hello.”
OH MY GOD! The heavens opened up! The night turned to day! I knew in my heart of hearts, we were destined to be soulmates from that moment on. This was it, Prince would ask me to come to Paisley Park and I was ready to go right then. I didn’t need any of my earthly belongings! And then, as if he understood the insane connection we had, he turned and walked away. But… wait!
At first I was worried he didn’t understand the full impact of what just happened. But then, I realized, no, he understood perfectly. Prince was a man of mystique and ours was a bond so strong it could only to be shared in secret. I know we both felt it again when he played on the Grammys stage the next night (I saw you throwing shade, Timberlake!).
But, in all seriousness, my momentary encounter with Prince really has meant a great deal to me over the years. He is a musician that I have been a fan of and have respected throughout his career. I acted like a fool and instead of ignoring me (which he had every right to do) he was kind and I will always be grateful. It was a moment he instantly forgot I’m sure, and one that I will keep fresh in my memory forever. He is deeply, deeply missed.
Watch Prince and Beyonce’s 2004 Grammy performance below: