(Featured Image: Dez Dickerson shoots Prince a bemused look, not for the last time, at the 1982 Minnesota Black Music Awards while Brown Mark looks on; photo stolen from Housequake.)
Note: I’m taking a week off from regularly-scheduled posts on the blog, as I shift to a Patreon-first schedule moving forward from the 101st post: basically, patrons of the blog get to read each post a week before they “unlock” for everyone else. I hope that this decision isn’t overly controversial: I feel very strongly that the blog should stay free for everyone to read, but I also want to give those who have gone the extra mile and supported my work financially something extra in return. So, if you’re interested in reading this and other future posts a week early, please consider becoming a patron for just a dollar or more per month. Or, if you’d rather just keep reading for free (and really, who can argue with that logic), just keep your eye on this post next Friday; and in the meantime, you can read a brief sample below. Thank you, all, for bearing with me during this transitional week!
When he wasn’t busy upgrading his home studio and recording his first Top 10 hit, Prince spent the better part of May 1982 soaking up some long-awaited hometown acclaim. On May 12, he attended the inaugural Minnesota Black Music Awards at the Prom Ballroom in St. Paul, where he was honored in the “Rhythm & Blues” category alongside protégés the Time and fellow-travelers including Enterprize, Pierre Lewis and the Lewis Connection, and Sue Ann Carwell. According to biographer Per Nilsen, his acceptance speech was delivered “in such low tones that no one could hear him” (Nilsen 1999 100).
Two weeks later, on May 24, he was back at the Prom–which, the Twin Cities Music Highlights website ominously notes, “refused to turn on the air conditioning”–for the second annual Minnesota Music Awards, sponsored by the alternative weekly City Pages. Prince was nominated, either himself or by proxy, in eight categories: Best 45 or EP (“Controversy,” the Time’s “Get It Up”), Best LP (Controversy, The Time), Best New Act (the Time), Best Electric Guitar (Dez Dickerson), Best Male Vocalist (himself), Best R&B/Funk/Soul/Band (the Time), Best Producer (himself, for Controversy), and Musician of the Year (himself). The night’s big award went to him; this time–maybe because he’d just recorded “Little Red Corvette” four days earlier–he accepted it with a little more swagger, asking, “When do they give the award for best ass?”
Memorable quips aside, Prince didn’t actually perform at the Minnesota Music Awards ceremony; but the Time did, making their first public appearance since the end of the Controversy tour two months earlier. Seeing his side project in action again–and watching them take home the R&B/Funk/Soul award–may have been what prompted Prince to get back to work recording their second album, which he’d left in a state of suspended animation since his sessions at Sunset Sound in January. Those sessions had produced “The Walk,” “Gigolos Get Lonely Too,” and “Wild and Loose,” all of which made it onto the final track list; as well as “Bold Generation” and “Colleen,” which did not. An early version of “Jerk Out,” which the group would ultimately re-record for their 1990 album Pandemonium, was also mooted and discarded around the same time. But it was “777-9311,” recorded in late May or early June at Kiowa Trail, that gave the nascent album its linchpin.