Trey Anastasio Talks About The Night Phish Partied With Prince

By Scott Bernstein Apr 29, 2016 11:01 am PDT

Phish had one of the most memorable off-stage nights of their career in the mid ’90s, when Prince invited the band to his Paisley Park complex in Minnesota. Guitarist Trey Anastasio discussed the eventful night with The Purple One for a just-published post on Rolling Stone.

Trey and his band mates went to Paisley Park for a party celebrating the release of Prince’s Emancipation album following an arena show in Minneapolis. Rolling Stone pegs the date as October 2, 1996, but the quartet was off the road at that time. Phish did play the Target Center in Minneapolis on October 2, 1999 so that could be the night in question. It’s more likely it occurred after the band’s November 13, 1996 show at Target Center which took place a few days before the release of Prince’s Emancipation (UPDATE: Rolling Stone has changed the date to November 11, 1996 but the band played a show in Grand Rapids, Michigan that night). Regardless, the foursome was part of a crowd numbering about 200 that included Ziggy Marley and Boyz II Men.

“We were kind of standing in the corner,” Anastasio told Rolling Stone. “One thing I remember is he didn’t serve cocktails, so in lieu of cocktails he served little Captain Crunch cereal boxes. I thought that was the coolest thing.”

Anastasio recalled watching Prince and his band who according to the guitarist were each utilizing Plexiglass instruments and speakers. “It was really cool. He was such a great guitar player, but people don’t point out he was a great rhythm guitar player. The band was playing this funky stuff. He had a woman singing with him, a kind of gospel singer, and she stepped out and started killing it. He stepped back, and I remember thinking that everybody tries to play like James Brown’s rhythm guitar player. Jammy guys do it a lot, and they all get it wrong, myself included. He was playing the most badass little rhythms with the drummer as soon as he got out of the spotlight. I was so fascinated by what he was playing. That’s when I noticed what a great guitar player he was.”

[Phish covers “1999” on December 31, 1998]


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Sadly, Trey didn’t have an opportunity to meet The Purple One. He did have high praise for Prince’s ability to put together incredible bands. “The guy had the best bands,” the guitarist told Rolling Stone. “They were unbelievable. And that’s a skill in itself. Zappa didn’t just stumble into having bands that good. Prince didn’t just stumble into having bands that good. Bandleading is an art form. I have a little bit of experience in this, and let me tell you, I always admire people who consistently have great bands. Prince had figured out a way to hire really unique, really talented, really tight bands. And it’s easy to get one. But try getting two or three. That’s different. It’s horrible that he’s gone. I was heartbroken. He was way, way too young.”

Mike Gordon discussed the same night during a 2014 Esquire feature. “We got ourselves invited to a party at Prince’s house. We heard it was creative formal, whatever that meant. So we went to this Italian suit shop, and within half an hour got four Italian suits, got pinned up and the whole deal. Then we got there and we learned what we thought was creative wasn’t creative,” the Phish bassist said.

[via Rolling Stone]
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