Music Critic Recalls His Many Back-and-Forths With Prince

The Star Tribune's Jon Bream first met Prince in the fall of 1977, at a recording studio north of San Francisco.

On several occasions, Star Tribune music critic Jon Bream (pictured) was banned by Prince from the artist’s Glam Slam nightclub in Minneapolis. He was also in the audience of The Arsenio Hall Show in February 1993 when Prince applied lighter fluid to a printout of Bream’s review of the Love Symbol Album during a stage performance of “My Name Is Prince” and set the document on fire.

In a video conversation with Star Tribune features editor Sue Campbell posted today, Bream recalls another funny episode during a last-minute trip he made to Denver in 2013. He had been summoned there at the last minute and wound up having a joint interview conversation with Prince, starting at 4 a.m. in the morning:

“That previous fall, I had written something questioning whether he was wearing an Afro wig, because he kept changing from straight hairstyle to just an Afro. And just in the middle of it [the interview], he turned to me and said [pointing to his hair], ‘This is real! And what’s up with your hair? What happened to your hair, Jon Bream?’ Because I used to have more hair back then, almost like a little Afro, back in the day.”

Bream, who has been with the Star Tribune since 1974 and first met Prince at a recording studio north of San Francisco in the fall of 1977, has today’s front-page story and also co-wrote the paper’s obituary of the artist.

Read today, Bream’s pan of the Love Symbol Album is relatively benign, with none of the mean-spirited language that is typical of such missives today. Nevertheless, Prince probably did not appreciate reading that song “The Morning Papers” amounted, in the critic’s opinion, to a ‘bad Billy Joel impression,’ or this assessment of another album track:

Prince’s most indulgent selection, the closing “Sacrifice of Victor,” may be the album’s quintessential piece. It begins with Kirstie Alley, playing a journalist, on the telephone trying to interview Prince about his widely reported affair with a young princess of Cairo. Alley wants him to the tell the truth, but he confounds her with mysticism and then churns out a furious funk (George Clinton meets James Brown at Paisley Park) that finds Prince singing about school integration, brotherhood and the importance of education, as preached to him by his real-life surrogate mother, longtime Minneapolis activist and social worker Bernadette Anderson.

Alley played that same reporter role to introduce the Feb. 25 1993 Arsenio Hall program.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Reporter Recalls His Brief Nightclub Encounter With Prince
U.K. Journalist Jammed With Prince in 2010
Lucky Group of NABJ Journalists Huddle With Prince

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