It was good to be Prince. The rock star ruled his kingdom with a firm hand. Musicians, friends and lovers were moved around his world like chess pieces, wooed and exiled.
When he shone his spotlight on you, it was intense. When he turned away, it was cold — and he knew it.
Just ask Susan Rogers, who worked from 1983 to ’87 as Prince’s in-house recording engineer at his Paisley Park complex in Minneapolis.
She recalled an incident when a group of musicians were waiting for Prince to arrive for a rehearsal.
“Somebody was talking about a person he described as an asshole,” Rogers told The Post.
“Suddenly, Prince appeared, and asked, ‘Who is the asshole?’ Nobody wanted to rat the person out . . . then Prince said, ‘There’s only one asshole around here. And that is me.’”
But even after his death, from an accidental drug overdose, four years ago, his disciples remain true. In fact, two of them are still fighting over him.
As Page Six reported, last month, Apollonia Kotero — Prince’s hand-chosen co-star in the film “Purple Rain” and, with her band Apollonia 6, one of his many musical protégés — lambasted fellow mentee Sheila E. for her “[desperation] to be relevant” and for profiting off of the star’s name. (Prince wrote Sheila’s big 1984 hit, “Glamorous Life,” and took her out on tour as an opening act.)
The feud seemingly came about because Sheila has released a new tribute song for him, “Lemon Cake” — and apparently rubbed many the wrong way when she was involved in a recent televised tribute to the late star that left out a number of his former apprentices.
Kotero also wrote on Facebook that Prince had “refused to acknowledge” Sheila before his death.
According to a Prince insider, “There were a lot of hard feelings when Prince died. There are people from the original camp who felt that [Sheila E.] had no [recent] contact with Prince and then flew in like a character from ‘Game of Thrones’ and took charge.”
Among those omitted from the tribute was Tamar Davis, who sang with Prince on 2006’s Grammy-nominated “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed.”
“I can’t say why I haven’t been part of anything Sheila puts on,” Davis told The Post. But back in the day, “there was jealousy. I was looked at as the new chocolate girl.”
Which meant, of course, that she had replaced someone else.
‘Prince was a Svengali,” said music producer David Rivkin, aka David Z, who worked on “Kiss” and the “Purple Rain” soundtrack.
Among the other acts Prince created or mentored — and then, often, dropped: Vanity Six, 3rdEyeGirl, Diamond and Pearl, Scottish star Sheena Easton, The Time, The Revolution.
All were made in his image — vessels through which Prince could present his ideas, sometimes play all the instruments, and even stoke drama.
“His theory was that if an army of people came at you with the same sound it was much more influential than just one guy,” said Rivkin. “It was all Prince and, obviously, it worked.”
When Prince wanted to work with somebody — especially a woman to whom he was attracted — or bid them farewell, he took whatever steps were necessary to make it happen. Mixing business with pleasure was the whole point.
“We used to tease him,” remembered Rivkin. “We’d say, ‘Can’t you just say goodbye to them, rather than writing a whole album for them?’”
That more or less describes the situation when Prince set his sights on Easton, who up until that point had had a wholesome career with songs like the Bond theme “For Your Eyes Only.” A source recalled hearing from a friend — a music executive who was dating Easton — about Easton getting the 1984 call that Prince had a song for her.
“My friend drove Sheena to the recording and wasn’t allowed to go upstairs, even though he was the head of a department at a major label,” said the source. “He looked at it like, ‘Well, that’s it between [me] and Sheena.’”
Although no one seems to be clear on whether or not the notoriously private Prince — who would later keep the birth and death of his son, Amiir, a secret for years — and the Scottish star actually dated. But she did end up singing his wildly sexually suggestive song “Sugar Walls.” It reached the Top Ten on Billboard, and the two continued to collaborate with 1987’s duet “U Got The Look.”
But that relationship, too, eventually fizzled out.
Some women apparently couldn’t accept it when Prince’s attention flitted away from them and onto someone else.
Howard Bloom, the singer’s former publicist and author of “Einstein, Michael Jackson & Me: A Search for Soul in the Power Pits of Rock and Roll,” describes Sheila E as “obsessed with Prince and with having his children. She wanted to own Prince . . . But it was the 1980s and Prince had [plenty of] women.”
Even as he was allegedly leading Sheila on, Prince was involved with Susannah Mulvoin — whose twin sister, Wendy, had been in The Revolution.
“Sheila would call me crying,” Bloom added. “I would try explaining to her that there is no way she can get Prince to fall in love with her and worship every cell in her body the way she worships every cell in his. He was a satyr.”
(A representative for Sheila E did not return requests for comment.)
He was also, in his own way, a gentleman: “Once, [Prince] had somebody call me to see if it would be okay for him to sleep with one of my account executives,” Bloom recalled. “I told them that we don’t do business that way. I guess that was okay because we continued working together.”
Once Prince decided he was done with you, it could be harsh. When, after having huge success with his band The Revolution, he decided to drop them over dinner in 1986. Band member Lisa Coleman told the Los Angeles Times, “Being in a band with Prince was like holding onto the tail of a comet. It was great until it flamed you out.”
And it didn’t take much for him to lose interest.
“Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis got snowed in once while [en route to] a recording session,” said Bloom of the producing duo, who had been in The Time, a band Prince puppeteered by putting them together and writing their songs. “Prince ceased working with them. The fact that you would not show up was not tolerable.”
An early collaborator remembered when a then-unknown Prince wanted to work with a new version of a synthesizer. “You needed training to use it,” said the collaborator. “We brought in a guy to show him how. Twenty minutes later, the guy came up to me and said, ‘He doesn’t want me around anymore. He told me to leave.’ I told him, ‘Either you didn’t make the grade, or he had absorbed everything from you.’”
The Prince insider isn’t surprised that, after Prince’s death, the feuds are emerging — something that wouldn’t have happened during his life.
“He was known to call people out to Paisley Park and read them the riot act. He’d call you out like an emperor. Prince kept a tight lid on things, but after he died, the lid came off,” said the insider. “Prince had a much tighter rein on things than anyone realized.”
Davis said that, basically, those who were once beloved by Prince just don’t know how to quit him.
“There’s truth to [Apollonia’s claims]. Sheila E. and Prince were not talking,” she said. “But when you work for somebody like Prince, you want to hold onto him.”
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