When Brittany Howard Jammed With Prince

Alabama Shakes at Paisley Park
– Alabama Shakes at Paisley Park

Certainly Brittany Howard is heavily influenced by the late great legend Prince Rogers Nelson, as evinced by her cover this tour of his obscure and wondrous song “Breakdown” and the Prince earrings she wore during an SNL performance. And then there was the day she jammed with him at Paisley Park. It’s a moment her managers, Red Light’s Kevin Morris and Christine Stauder, remember well and described in detail. 

Kevin Morris: Obviously [Brittany] loves Prince and she was lucky enough to meet him. We went to Paisley Park and he sat in; I think that was a very important moment for her. We were both there.
Pollstar: Why were you there?

Christine Stauder: I ask myself that every day. The Shakes were playing a show in Minneapolis, and some of the staff came and they invited us to do a show. They had a performance space in his compound and would do shows there every once in a while. So they invited us to come and do one. So we’re on site and everyone got to meet him and talk to him. Then he came up onstage with the Shakes and kind of jammed out during “Gimme All Your Love.” Brittany tells it way better. They were playing the song and it was almost done, you could see them looking around like “Where is he?” and then he just magically appeared out of nowhere and jammed out the last part of the song with them. I was listening to a podcast where Brittany talked about it recently, and she was like, “All he did was come up, gave me a kiss, and then he was gone. That was the last time I ever saw him.” He called her or one of his assistants called while they were getting ready to go and said, “Thank you, did you have fun? I’m so glad you came and did this, I’ll reach out to you.” And a year later, he had passed away. On this podcast, she was like, “He reached out and was like, ‘I’ll email you, you won’t know what email it’ll come from’ because he has multiple emails.” She talks about checking her spam, her junk mail, every email box every day for a year. He never reached out.
Kevin: When we met him, we went into this back studio and he was very quiet. He’s very shy. We had like a 10- or 15- minute conversation with everybody and everybody was so nervous to talk to him. And then he was like, “OK, I’m going to go up and practice ‘Gimme All Your Love’ now.” And then we left. They went right on stage. Me and Christine were standing in back and all of a sudden the doors to where we had just left during the first or second song opened and there’s Prince. He’s in full outfit, the whole thing. He just sat on this platform in the back and basically the whole show he’s sitting there, he had his band with him, some friends and they’re up there, and then they were playing “Gimme All Your Love.” The song starts, and then it gets to like halfway through and me and Christine are looking at him, and we’re like, is he going to go up there? And then all of a sudden he stands up and just walks through the crowd. He disappears, we lose him in the crowd and then, they get to the point where he’s going to sit in and then, like Christine said, he appears from the back with his guitar.
Christine: I remember the band was all looking around, too. They’re all like, where is he? And then all of a sudden …
Kevin: It was a very short moment of him playing and then, I’ll never forget it, I saw in Brittany’s eyes, like, “I have Prince on stage right now, this has got to go on for longer.” The song ended and then they kind of went back, reprised back into the jam part of the song, built it up and then he shredded for like several minutes. Then it ended. It was so epic.
Christine: I’m hoping somewhere it’s on a recording because we weren’t allowed to record that night. There were no phones allowed. I’m sure it exists. I’m just hoping it surfaces someday.