Prince was a guy who knew how to let loose and play. And I don’t mean “play” as in play an instrument or a song or a show. That kind of playing was his work, however enjoyable, and a concert venue was his workplace. While Prince never came out directly and declared “I am playful,” even a casual observer could see: The man knew when a good, old-fashioned spin on a bike was in order. Here are a few of the ways Prince would play:
He loved to ride his bike.
As the old proverb goes, too much rigidity and stress in the daily grind can make Jack a dull boy. Never-dull Prince, an avid biker, knew the mood-lifting magic of hopping on two wheels and breezing down the bike paths of Chanhassen. Longtime New Power Generation keyboardist Morris Hayes told GQ Magazine:
“I took him to the bike store and I bought him a bike because he said he wanted a bicycle. I got him all sized up for it, and then I told him, “Okay, Prince, I’m only buying this bike if you get a helmet.” And he said, “I don’t want a helmet.” I said, “Well, I’m not buying this bike, sir, if you don’t get a helmet—you have to ride with a helmet or else I can’t be responsible for you being on this bike.” He says, “Well, I don’t want a helmet.” I said, “I’ll get you a cool one—and I’ll get one, too.” So we got the helmets, but I found out later that he was riding the bike and he didn’t wear it.”
He hosted bonfires at his house.
Once, I spoke with a woman whose property borders Prince’s. She recounted how, back in the early 2000s, she was sitting on her back deck one evening when bassist Larry Graham (who lived near her, on Prince’s property) walked over and invited her to a bonfire. Warmed by his neighborly gesture, she agreed, and walked over with her glass of wine. She was enjoying the bonfire when Prince, his second wife Manuela Testolini and others arrived. Prince, who she says was wearing a plaid shirt (!) and jeans (!), offered the woman bug spray (chivalry at its finest!) and then proceeded to play guitar with his back facing the fire. It was her impression that he kept his back to everyone because he was shy.
He went joyriding in his sportscar.
Prince sped around town in his purple Prowler, and according to this story from the local Chanhassen newspaper, even thrilled fans at stoplights.
“I used to chase the purple prowler around town,” former Chaska resident Reid Harmen wrote. “And one time — just once — he pulled up next to us at a stoplight on Powers Boulevard and Highway 5. Me being me, went crazy and started screaming at him. He slowly rolled down his tinted window, gave us a wink with the most mysterious smile, and sped off — through the red light.”
A Chanhassen resident told the local paper that he was at “a little league practice at Lake Ann Park across Highway 5 from Paisley Park … all of a sudden, all the moms of the 10- to 11-year-old players disappeared over the hill — it seems Prince came to the park to play softball on the other diamond — and that was a bigger deal than their kid’s practice!”
He challenged other celebs to basketball games … and served them pancakes after he beat them.
Who can forget the late Charlie Murphy’s hilarious tale of he and his friends playing Prince and The Revolution in basketball, and Prince serving them pancakes in the end? “Game, blouses.”
It’s been quite a month trying to keep up the pace of someone as playful as Prince! But I think I achieved Prince playful nirvana. As the month began, we rented electric bikes and rode 24 miles through the gorgeous (and hilly) Iowa countryside.
Then, I went to Chanhassen’s July 4 carnival – just like Prince had in 2015.
That weekend, I appeared on Fox32 in Chicago! And I met a fab new friend Sharay, who’s a gifted hair and makeup artist.
I borrowed my dad’s car for a quick joyride. (Now I want a red sports car of my own).
I borrowed my friend Stacy’s paddleboard for a quick joyride around Lake Ann! (Now I want a paddleboard of my own!).
Because Prince opened Paisley Park for parties, I threw a small party for our new neighbors (of which I have no photographic evidence, so you’ll have to take my word for it!). Later, I stopped to smell the roses at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. I especially liked this one, because the name reminded me of the symbols on the gate of Prince’s Lake Riley house.
And finally, this weekend I attended a “Caddyshack” themed party at my parents’ country club. I think my dad should have won the “most authentic costume” award for still fitting into his plaid pants, circa 1978.
July has been an exhilarating, exhausting ride with tons of fun around every corner. But I’ve still got one more episode of big fun in store before the month wraps. More on that to come!