How Prince had fond love for France and one Paris venue

As the world mourns the loss of one of the funkiest musicians in history, we investigate Prince's love for France and Paris .

How Prince had fond love for France and one Paris venue
Prince performing on stage at the Stade de France near Paris in 2011. Photo: AFP
The world was stunned on Thursday to learn of the death of US artist Prince at the age of 57, a week after he had been taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza.
As the world mourned the loss of the musical genius, the French media reflected on the singer's love for France over the years. 
In an obituary in the Le Parisien newspaper, its music reporter recounted meeting the artist backstage in 2010, and in an unrecorded interview (Prince preferred to have a 'discussion'), he opened up about France.
“I love playing in France. I even plan to sing in every single concert hall in Paris. Anyway, I want to live in France,” Prince told the reporter.
“Paisley Park, my base in Minneapolis, is fine for business but I'd really like to move to France.”
Prince performing onstage at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris in 1990. Photo: AFP
Perhaps it's no surprise that Prince was a fan of France, as any French fans would be quick to tell you that the artist was no stranger to the country – especially the Riviera.
In fact, Prince even made headlines in August 2009 after performing two separate concerts in one night (with different set lists) at the Salle Garnier in Monaco. 
The singer was back on the Riviera again in July the next year, performing in Nice and then into the late hours in a Cannes nightclub. 
During the same visit, he even ordered his agent to lodge a bid to become owner of the Nice Jazz Festival, reported France Bleu newspaper, though the paperwork never went anywhere.
And Prince was no stranger to the lesser known venues in France. In fact, the New Morning jazz club (on the Rue des Petites Écuries in the tenth arrondissement) was one of his favourite haunts in Paris, reported Le Parisien newspaper
Alfred Bernardin, a Frenchman who acted as Prince's assistant in France, told the paper that when in Paris, Prince could arrive at the club as late as two in the morning and play until 6am. 
“He was full of energy. We were all a little tired, but not him,” he said. 
Bernardin said that working with Prince meant being a “yes man”, no matter how outlandish and fickle the singer could be.
He recounted, for example, how the Raspberry Beret singer found a “beautiful house” in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, with a studio basement for his music.  
“I rented it out for him for six months, but he never lived there,” the assistant said. 
He also shared stories of how Prince had planned a concert at the Chateau de Versailles in Paris that never came to fruition.
Prince's last show in France would have been at the Opera Garnier in Paris in December last year, though he cancelled the gig due to the November terror attacks. 
Authorities have not given a cause of death for the singer, who sold over 100 million albums in his lifetime. 
Prince performing onstage during his concert at the Bercy venue in Paris in 1987. Photo: AFP

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


8 of French duo Daft Punk’s most memorable moments

One of the era's defining dancefloor acts hung up their helmets on Monday, as French electronic music stars Daft Punk announced their retirement in a typically enigmatic fashion with a video showing one of them exploding in a desert.

8 of French duo Daft Punk's most memorable moments
Photo: AFP

From Da Funk in 1995 to Get Lucky in 2013, Daft Punk became the torch-bearers for French house music across the globe, winning six Grammy awards and pioneering the monumental sound-and-light shows that came to characterise the electronic dance movement (EDM) of recent years.

They did so while almost never revealing their faces — the ubiquitous helmets became another much-copied trope of EDM stars, but also afforded Thomas Bangalter, 46, and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, 47, a freedom from the fame that quickly encircled them.

“We have daily lives that are a lot more normal than the lives of artists who have the same level of fame as us, but who might be attached to being physically recognised,” Bangalter said in a rare authorised documentary by the BBC in 2015.

Here are some of the highlights of their career – although for our money nothing will beat the French army band’s performance of a Daft Punk medley at the Bastille Day celebrations in 2017, in front of president Emmanuel Macron and a plainly bemused Donald Trump.

1. “Daft punky thrash”

Bangalter and Homem-Christo met at school in Paris before an inauspicious start in music with the rock band Darlin’, which also featured a future member of the French indie band Phoenix.

One review in the British music press dismissed the band as “daft punky thrash” — which struck a chord with them.

Reemerging as an electronic outfit, they met with instant success.

This interview from 1995 is one of the few images of their faces:

2. Their signature look in “Around the World”

Early singles “Da Funk” and “Around the World” became club fixtures, and led to massive sales for their debut album “Homework” in 1997.

It was in the video for “Around the World” that they first donned the helmets that would become their signature look. It mirrored the tight control they exercised over every part of their career, which included ownership of their master recordings.

3. “One More Time”

They followed up with the even more successful “Discovery” in 2001, which spawned the hits “One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”.

There were some distinctively left-field choices in the years that followed, including producing the 2003 film “Interstella 5555” by Japanese anime master Leiji Matsumoto, which featured music from “Discovery”.

4. Human After All

While their next album in 2005, a more sombre “Human After All”, received mixed reviews, these were quickly forgotten amid the euphoria of their live shows over the next two years.

This included a headline appearance at US festival Coachella in 2006, performed inside a giant LED pyramid. EDM fans still speak about it with an almost religious reverence.

5. Tron soundtrack

In 2010, they released a soundtrack to the Disney reboot of Tron, which picked up a Grammy nomination.

6. “Random Access Memories”

But no one predicted the massive success of their last album, 2013’s “Random Access Memories”, for which they gave up their usual makeshift home rig for a full commercial studio– and used entirely live instruments.

The resulting work dominated album-of-the-year lists and helped lift their total worldwide sales to 12 million. It won four Grammies the following year including record of the year for “Get Lucky”, the millions-selling lead single featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers.

Their appearance at the Grammy Awards show was their last public appearance for three years.

7. “I Feel It Coming”

They showed up one more time for the Grammy ceremony in 2017, alongside The Weeknd, after collaborating on the Canadian artist’s most recent album.

Despite the Twittersphere erupting in excitement last month amid rumours they would rejoin The Weeknd for the Super Bowl half-time show, that did not in the end materialise. 

8. “Epilogue”

The video titled “Epilogue” announcing their split used footage from their cult 2006 film “Electroma” in which one of the robots sets the auto-destruct of the other.

A cutaway then reads “1993-2021” with two robot hands making a circle around a sunset.

Their publicist, Kathryn Frazier, confirmed the news to AFP by email, without giving a reason for the split.