When Steve Vai Came Close to Jamming With Prince
Steve Vai confirmed the longstanding rumor that he’d come incredibly close to jamming with Prince – but that he ran out of time to make it happen.
The pair were set to play together on Prince’s private stage at his Paisley Park H.Q. but despite the host having told his staff to prepare for the moment, he sat behind the scenes until Vai said he had to leave for his next show.
“Yes, it’s true,” Vai told the Wong Notes podcast, while describing himself as a "huge Prince fan" (audio below). “Prince would have these wild open nights at Paisley Park, and it was fantastic. I went there after a show with the band… I got there late – it was two, three AM or something… and I never saw Prince; I just had messages.”
Prince arranged for his bassist Sonny T. and his drummer Michael Bland to be woken from their beds and brought to Paisley Park. “Next thing I know, they’re out of bed and they’re there, and it’s the three of us on stage jamming,” Vai recalled. “It was great. These guys – man, they’re like magic. They’re in your ear; it’s like an E.S.P. jam. I’m like, ‘Prince has got it made with these guys!’”
After a while the guitarist was told the “the boss is going to come down and jam with you,” but even after crew had set up Prince’s performance rig, he didn’t appear. “We’re jamming and time’s going by, it’s getting later and later and earlier in the morning, and he’s just not there,” Vai recalled. “I’m like, ‘I’ve got to get to the next gig!’ I said, ‘I’m so sorry, I’ve got to go.’”
But it seems that Prince was aware of what was going on the whole time. “From what I was told, he was in a room watching – the whole stage was outfitted with cameras – from backstage and videotaping it. He never came down; he just sat and watched.”
The Wong Notes podcast is hosted by Cory Wong, who’s currently in a band with Sonny T. and the bassist is said to have a VHS copy of the night with Vai. Wong has said he’s determined to recover and release it.
Listen to Steve Vai Discuss His Near Miss Prince Jam