Watch Prince Give Dick Clark A Hard Time During 1980 Apppearance On ‘American Bandstand’
See Prince’s legendary visit to the long-running music program when he was 21…or 19?
Today marks what would have been Prince’s 65th birthday. Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958. The iconic artist died tragically on April 21, 2016, far too early at the age of 57.
When Prince was 21, he appeared on the long-running music program American Bandstand hosted by Dick Clark. During the appearance, a 21-year-old Prince tells Clark that he’s 19, just one of many interesting aspects of a controversial early television appearance by the legendary musician.
In early 1980, Prince was a few months into the rollout of his breakthrough sophomore self-titled album. The success of Prince was buoyed by its lead single, “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” which arrived in August 1979. It became Prince’s first major hit, due, no doubt, to the fact that it’s an amazing song. But performing it on American Bandstand certainly helped as the hit peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 the same day his Bandstand appearance aired.
Prince and his band — drummer Bobby Z, guitarist Dez Dickerson, bassist Andrew Cymone as well as keyboardists Matt Fink and Gayle Chapman — taped their American Bandstand spot on December 16, 1979. Following “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and ahead of “Why You Wanna Treat Me so Bad?,” Clark interviewed Prince, making a comment about how surprising it was that music like that could come from Minneapolis. Here’s what Prince said a year later about the comment.
“That tripped me out when Dick Clark asked how I come from Minneapolis, of all places. That really gave me an attitude. TV personalities are hard to talk to. They come out of certain bags. Music is music. A place is a place.”
Following the Minneapolis comment, Prince gave short, sometimes one-word answers to Clark’s queries. Here’s what Clark told the Star Tribune in 1995.
“I’ve always said that was one of the most difficult interviews I’ve ever conducted, and I’ve done 10,000 musician interviews.” He continued: “[T]hat’s the nature of the man. He’s an extraordinary performer and not a particularly verbose one in public conversation. Though once you’re off camera, he’s like everybody else – very normal.” Clark likened Prince to “all the mystery people in entertainment,” who keep mum in public but open up in private. “Prince is the same,” Clark added. “But I don’t advise him on career moves.”
The last comment is interesting, as Prince’s guitarist Dez Dickerson has said, career moves may have been what Prince was making in the Bandstand interview. Here’s what Dickerson recalled about the appearance.
“Dick Clark came into the Green Room and did his cordial thing: He’s everybody’s friend and puts everybody at ease. After he left, I saw that look on Prince’s face that meant: Uh oh, something’s coming. He said, ‘This is what we’re going to do. When Dick Clark talks to you, don’t say anything.’ My heart sank.” But Dickerson added in another interview that the exchange “ended up being considered pure genius. And Dick Clark talks about it to this day.”
As Dickerson points out, Prince’s genius was by no means limited to the musical realm. Thankfully, the landmark moment was captured for posterity. In honor of Prince’s birthday, watch his appearance on American Bandstand in 1980 below:
[Hat Tip – Ultimate Prince]
[Originally Published: June 7, 2022]