Tuesday, March 4, 2008

How To Boost Your Stage Show Presentation (Rick James vs. Prince)

Tuesday March 4, 2008 -- by Wow Jones

So you and your band and/or crew are practicing in your garage and/or basement and you're ready. There's a gig and there you are onstage looking out over a crowd of onlookers. As you sing your tunes and screaming into the microphone, you realize that your performing isn't getting the response you desire. Dudes are yawning, girls are nodding off. What do you do?

In the book, “The Confessions Of A Rick James: Memoirs Of A Super Freak” Rick James has a revealing anecdote about Prince. When preparing to tour after the release of his album Fire It Up, Rick James started to think about getting an opening act.

“There was a record burning up the airwaves called ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ by some cat named Prince. He played guitar, and everyone was telling me how a tour with me and him would be great. I bought his album and really enjoyed it, especially ‘Sexy Dancer.’ I thought the kid was pretty funky. So I asked for the company to send me a video on him. I received the video and as I watched him I thought he reminded me a bit of myself, except that he didn’t move as much. I asked Prince to open up the Fire It Up tour…the only thing I had heard about him was that he was shy. I had hoped he wasn’t too shy, or he had no right being on the road with me, that’s for sure.”

On meeting Prince, Rick James mentions, “When I walked in through the backstage entrance, Prince was sitting on his group’s drums playing some bullshit beat. I sat down on our set where he could see me and began playing some serious shit. He looked over at me and just got his little ass up and walked away.”

On finally seeing him play Rick James reveals, “The first time I saw Prince and his band I felt sorry for him. Here’s this little dude wearing hi-heels, playing this New Wave Rock And Roll, not moving or anything on stage, just standing there wearing this trench coat.

Then at the end of his set he’d take off his trench coat and he’d be wearing little girl’s bloomers. I just died. The guys in the audience just booed this poor thing to death..”

As the tour went on, Rick James noticed something about Prince’s behavior, “Whenever I was on stage I’d see Prince on the side of the stage just staring and watching everything I did, like a kid in school. I’d walk over to him during a song and point my bass right in his face, grab my crotch, give him the finger and keep jammin’. He was remembering everything I did, like a computer.”

Detailing his stage repertoire Rick James reveals, “I used to do these tricks with the microphone - - flip it, catch it backwards, you name it. It was a trademark of mine. I also used to do a lot of crowd chants. I’d have my hand on my ear while I called these funk chants to the audience. This was another trademark.”

“I used to do these tricks with the microphone - - flip it, catch it backwards, you name it. It was a trademark of mine. I also used to do a lot of crowd chants. I’d have my hand on my ear while I called these funk chants to the audience. This was another trademark.” -- Rick James

One night during the tour, Rick James had a surprise waiting for him, “One day I walked into the auditorium, getting ready to go on, and I heard the crowd chanting loudly. I went to check it out. Here’s Prince doing my chants. Not only that he was stalking the stage just like me, doing the funk sign, flipping the microphone and everything. The boy had stolen my whole show. I was pissed, and so was my band. This went on night after night, every show I’d see more of my own routine. It got to the point I couldn’t do the stuff I had always done cuz Prince was doing it before I came on. It started to look like I was copying him.”

Something needed to get done. Rick James explains, “Everyone knew what was happening: his management, my management. One day things almost blew up. I was pissed, my band was pissed, and something had to be done. So my management and Prince’s management got together, along with Prince and his band and me and my band to have it out once and for all.“

So what happened? Well, “First, I met with Prince’s manager and told him that if Prince did any more of my show he was off the tour. Even his own manager agreed that Prince was stealing my show. Finally, we all met in Prince’s room: Prince, me and my bands. My band, looking like six foot five Black Maasai Warriors with their braids and leather, sat at one end, while Prince’s band, in their eyelashes and make-up, sat at the other. Prince’s band was afraid, very afraid. Levi and the boys were ready to give an ass-whipping. Prince sat on a bed and hardly said a word. He acted like a little bitch while his band and mine patched up their differences. After that confrontation, things went back to normal - - me kicking his ass every night.”

Whatever you think of Prince—the rock star, he was cognizant of his own inferior stage presentation and recognized that improvements needed to be made. He looked around and saw a fellow musician/performer doing a tremendous job while on the road. He made the appropriate adjustments and the rest is history.

MOVE People! Get around the stage. Don't just STAND there!

By the way. what does history say close to thirty years later?

-- The Wow Jones Report

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