From Slate.com’s BrowBeat cultural blog:
The following is an excerpt from Mo Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir Questlove Thompson and Ben Greenman, out now from Grand Central Publishing.
I got a text from Princes assistant. Thats how things go in the Prince universe: You get a pre?message saying that a phone message is coming later. But this time, the message said something different. It said that there was going to be a roller?skating party that night, for Valentines Day, and that I should bring some cool people.I was puzzled. What did Prince mean by cool, exactly? I wasnt sure if he was trusting me with the word or with the concept. I texted back: Cool? It turned out they meant the people who were already with me: Mos, Talib, Jill, Erykah, Common. I started to line people up in my mind and called them to give them the news. I thought they would do backflips: a party with Prince? To my amazement, most of them werent up for it. Jill came backstage and told me that she was tired. Talib said that he needed to be in bed before midnight. I ran into Alan Leeds, who led me to Raphaels dressing room, where Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy were sitting and talking. I went to my same pitch: Hey, guys, want to go roller?skating with Prince?Right, Alan said. Ill be in the grave before Im in skates.Right, Chris said. Like Im skating with these knees.Right, Raphael said. Im too old for that shit.
I was confused and a little depressed. How good were these peoples lives that they could pass on Princes roller?skating party? Only one man was brave enoughvisionary enoughto see what lay before us, and that was Eddie Murphy. This is historical, he said. For starters, I need to see if Prince can roller?skate. Im a comedian, and honestly, whats funnier than that?
Princes assistant texted me directions to a rink in Glenside, way out in the middle of nowhere. It was around one in the morning by the time we drove out there, and the place was empty, a bare rink, and I started to worry that I had the wrong place, or that I had been punked. Maybe Alan and Chris were in on the joke. Maybe they were all somewhere laughing. Then I saw DJ Rashida and some of her friends skating. Hey, I said.Hey there, she said. They were so happy to see us that I started to feel bad that I hadnt brought more people. No, she said. Dont worry about it. Prince likes to keep things intimate. A dozen people is a big crowd to him. That may have been true, but it was crazy for her to say, as a DJ, and just as crazy for me, as a DJ, to hear. Do you know how hard it is to entertain a crowd that small?The rink staff was professional, if a little nonplussed. Hes paying for us to stay open, one guy told me. Lets make the best of it. Whats your shoe size?
My girlfriend and I skated for about an hour. No Prince, no nothing, and the longer we went, the stranger it seemed. Was he coming? Was he up in the rafters, laughing? It was a strange setup, to say the least. Someone was putting down cash to keep the kid behind the snack bar there, watching the pizza bake under the heat lamp. He should have been home studying for his spelling test.
Around two in the morning we were ready to go. Still no Prince, and the anthropological benefit of watching this strange half?attended all?skate was wearing off. Suddenly, Eddie came in.
Hey, he said. I have an idea. Maybe dont take those skates off just yet.
And there he came, Prince, followed by a Princely entourage: his wife, Manuela; Larry Graham; some kids. I didnt recognize the kids but they were a familiar typeshow?biz small?fry, like I was all those years ago, when my father took me down to the green room to meet KISS.
Prince was carrying a big briefcase in his hand, and he was acting all mysterious, like it contained the glowing substance from Pulp Fiction or something. He made like he was going to open it, then stopped, then started again. Then he walked toward me.
Wheres your phone?
What? I said.
Yeah, right, what? he said. I know you have it, Ahmir. Where is it?
I thought maybe he wanted to make a phone call. I admit now thats not a plausible reading of the situation, but it was all so surreal. Its here, I said.
He took it from me and turned it over in his hand. Your coat is in coat check?
Put this with it.
Why? You think Im going to record something?
Check the phone.
What about him? I pointed at Eddie. Youre not going to take his phone? Hell tell everyone.
Eddie put up his hands. Hey, man, I dont know what youre talking about. My phones in the car.
While we are in the mood, peep this interview where Questlove talks Prince and more: