As part of our Prince tribute in the current issue of Uncut, I spoke to a number of his former collaborators – including Eric Leeds, who played saxophone with Prince from 1984 up to 2003, making him one of Prince’s longest-serving right-hand men.
In interview in the July 2016 issue – which is now on sale in UK shops – Leeds spoke in detail about exactly what happened with Prince met Miles. There was only space for an shorter version of this story in the piece, so here’s Leeds’ memories of the meetings between these two musical giants in full…
Were you there when Prince jammed with Miles Davis?
“I’ve got to tell you, I kind of was the midwife in that. Not that they wouldn’t have got together anyway, because I already was aware of Miles’ interest in Prince’s music. Prince was into quite a bit of Miles’ music also. I think they saw a lot of each other in their music. When I realized that Prince was reaching out to Miles to maybe do something, I made damn well sure I was going to be somewhere when that happened!
“The actual reality is that Prince and Miles were never in a recording studio together. That never happened. We did a track for Miles, for possible inclusion on what would have been Miles’ first Warner Bros album, Tutu. Prince decided that he didn’t think it was appropriate to be included on that album. He asked Miles not to include it and Miles agreed. Miles did overdub trumpet to it, but he did it on his own; Prince was nowhere around him when that happened. Finally, when we listened to that track, Prince came to me and Matt Blistan [trumpet] and asked my opinion of it. If Prince was going to ask me that, that meant Prince was not 100% sure it was that great. I agreed with him. I said, ‘If you’re going to do something with Miles, this shouldn’t be it.’ And he agreed.
“So we did a concert at Paisley Park. It was a New Year’s Eve, 1987. It was an invitation only performance. Miles was a guest and came on stage with us and played with us on one of the songs. To my recollection and to the best of my knowledge that is the only time Miles and Prince were in a space together performing. They became friendly and certainly stayed in communication with each other.
“Several years later, Miles asked Prince to produce some other tracks for him on a subsequent album. Prince was at that point extremely busy doing other things and was just not able to do that. Prince actually came to me and asked me to do a couple of tracks for Miles. I told Prince, I said, ‘Prince, Miles isn’t asking me to do a couple of tracks with him! He wants to go in the studio with you!’ He said, ‘I know! I just can’t see me doing that right now.’ I said, ‘Look, I’ll be more than happy to go in the studio and cut some tracks’ – which I ended up doing, but I have no idea whether those tracks were sent to Miles or whether he ever heard them. I really have no idea what happened to them. Obviously, I was very complimented! I had come to know Miles a bit, which was something of a dream come true.”
Apologies for the shameless plug, but you can read more of Eric’s memories as part of our 15-page special on Prince. Alongside David Cavanagh‘s superb tribute, I also spoke to Susan Rogers, who engineered Prince’s classic run of Eighties’ albums, his long-serving live sound man Rob “Cubby” Colby and Karen Krattinger, who for many years worked as general manager at Prince’s Paisley Park compound. “It’s hard to believe that he’s not on this planet anymore,” she laments.
The new issue of Uncut is on sale now and also available to buy digitally by clicking here.
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The July 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on Prince, plus Carole King, Paul Simon, case/lang/viers, Laurie Anderson, 10CC, Wilko Johnson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Steve Gunn, Ryan Adams, Lift To Experience, David Bowie and more plus 40 pages of reviews and our free 15-track CD
Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.