This is what it was like to tour with Prince in the ’90s
No drugs and no partying – so says Jett Kain of his days on the road with Prince, who was found dead yesterday at his Minnesota compound at age 57.
Kain and his wife, Lynn Ban, are based in New York, but were in Toronto yesterday at Archives, a jewellery store connected to the Four Seasons Hotel. Ban’s heavily rock ‘n roll-flavoured collection includes black diamond and purple amethyst Fender guitar earrings inspired by the musician. “Prince is always on my mood board,” she notes. “He truly had individual style.”
Ban’s husband toured with Prince in the ‘90s as a field producer during the singer’s split from Warner Bros., when he wasn’t allowed to perform under the name Prince. “He had just changed his name to the symbol so he needed people to explain not to yell Prince during the concert because it would be a problem. I had to get out on the podium and tell people, ‘Ok, so you’re here to hear the man. And you’re not allowed to use his former name. ’ ”
Prince bought a club in Miami that he renamed Glam Slam, and this is where he was planning to perform, as well as clubs he owned in L.A. and Minneapolis. Gianni and Donatella Versace and Calvin Klein were among the fashion stars who flocked to the Miami club to see him, and Prince appeared in a Versace ad campaign, shot by Richard Avedon.
When he was first hired, Kain says he was instructed not to speak to or look at Prince. “I made it through the first two weeks and then opening night he called each one of us into his trailer. There was incense burning and scarves over everything. He turned around and said, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ He couldn’t have been nicer. He said, ‘From now on if you have something to ask, you can.’ He was filtering out people and setting boundaries before we went on the road together. After that, it was one of the funnest things in my entire life.”
Apparently the fun was a lot tamer than in many other bands. “He would drink a little champagne, but no drugs, no partying,” Kain recalls. “He was so energetic. He didn’t sleep. I never saw him eat. He was very small, very thin. And super stylish in his own way. He changed his clothes five times a day. The minute he broke a sweat he had to change. And he wore high heels like that,” Kain says, indicating a height of about five inches.
Kain also worked on the 1995 VH1 Fashion Awards as an associate producer. “We got Prince to do “Pussy Control” and he wanted to drop 10,000 pairs of Pussy Control underwear onto all the fashion people. We said, ‘We don’t think that’s a good idea.’ But that was his sense of humour.”