Why Damon Albarn turned down a collaboration with Prince
Artistic integrity is hard earned and continually strives for. Musicians and other performers start out as budding creators, often grabbing straws and pulling in the dark for a while – “ fake it until you get there, ” as the saying goes.
Damon Albarn rose to fame as British royalty throughout the 1990s with the pioneering band Britpop Blur. For their first albums, the band stumbled upon – perhaps accidentally – a new sound that was occurring at the time, and different versions of it were pushed by ’90s rivals Oasis, and others. like Suede, Pulp, and Supergrass.
The Britpop scene of the 90s was the birth of new ideas which resulted in a golden age for British music. Like the British invasion of the 1960s, then the hard rock scene of the 1970s and the post-punk and new wave scene of the 1980s; the 1990s weren’t that different in that the world was their oyster – there was a general feeling that anything could happen.
Bands like Oasis and Blur were, for the most part, born into working-class childhoods and sought music not just as a fierce passion, but as a career. To get out of their seemingly dead-end prospects.
As Damon Albarn progressed as a songwriter and gained worldwide recognition, he also revealed a propensity to collaborate with other like-minded and very different musicians. His desire to want to collaborate and expand his artistic palate resulted in the formation of his supergroup, Gorillaz. The very essence of Gorillaz is fueled by the contributions of other artists.
Among those Albarn has collaborated with over the years are the likes of Ray Davies, Sean Ryder of the Happy Mondays, Bobby Womack, Noel Gallagher, Lou Reed and many more.
I don’t know if it was a sign of knowing your worth or naive silliness when Damon Albarn refused to collaborate with Prince. “Yeah, I didn’t go. I had done a gig in Minneapolis and was invited to go play with Prince so to speak, ”Albarn told Radio X.
The reason he didn’t go? On the surface, it was simply because Prince didn’t allow Albarn to smoke cigarettes in and around Purple One’s recording studio. Of course, Albarn isn’t as fickle as that. He didn’t like that there were conditions attached to the invitation. “And you know, I was drinking a drink and a pedal – I don’t actually smoke anymore when I hit that one on the head – and I was just like,” he added. “If you can’t be who you are …”
Albarn added to his explanation as from his interview with Radio X, stating: “If I invited someone, it’s my guest and there are no conditions like that. And anyway, it’s like I can go outside for a smoke if I need to. You know I’d be so fucking horny and how could I not go crazy if I’m with Prince?
It sounds reasonable enough, and if someone hearing this story assumes it’s just about smoking cigarettes, then they don’t really get the big picture. “So I’d rather not do it and not get angry with it all.” He’s one of those who could have been. I have a few, ”concluded Albarn.
Listen to Damon Albarn’s interview with Radio X, below.