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Prince Tour (1979/80) Prince Tour 1979/80

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Prince Tour

1979/80

I find it extremely hard to perform for people.

Lasting on average of 40 minutes and initially as a headlining club act in 1979, the later shows on the Prince Tour saw Prince the ‘special guest star’ for Rick James and the Stone City Band’s Fire It Up Tour in 1980. Prince’s part of the act would steal the limelight from James and the encounter was referred to in the press as the ‘battle of funk’. James dismissed Prince’s music: “I can’t believe people are gullible enough to buy Prince’s jive records.”

Warner Brothers did not believe Prince’s backing band was ready to take the For You album on the road, and so they waited a year and hone their act. Prince’s first tour was in support of his second album Prince, and so named the Prince Tour. The band comprised of Andre Cymone (bass), Dez Dickerson (second guitar), Gayle Chapman (keyboards), and friends Matt Fink (second keyboards) and Bobby “Z” Rivkin (drums). The name of the backing band was originally mooted The Rebels, but this name was dropped ahead of the tour. Prince gave each member a character – which was both camp and a post-modernistic: Prince wore a bikini, Matt Fink a jail uniform, which later became doctor’s scrubs, Chapman stockings and suspenders, Dickerson bedecked in tight leopard-skin trousers and Cymone transparent trousers.

At a party during the tour, model Denise “Vanity” Matthews who was at the time was James’ girlfriend, by the end of that evening she was Prince’s. Gayle Chapman quit the band following the Prince Tour due to her moral conflicts having to sing the androgynously themed and newly written, Head. She would be replaced by Gary Coleman. 

There were two legs to the tour. The first comprised 14 club shows, with the second leg as support for Rick James for 42 dates. The first leg was intended to be longer but much of the shows had to be cancelled when Prince fell ill on 3rd December 1979.

Prince Tour 1979
Photography by Richard E. Aaron

Performers

Vocals/Guitar
Prince
Drums
Bobby Z.
Guitar
Dez Dickerson
Bass Guitar
André Cymone
Keyboards
Matt Fink
Gayle Chapman

Total dates played

  • 14 shows from 26 November 1979 to 17 February 1980
  • 42 shows as support act for Rick James ‘Fire It Up Tour’, from 22 February to 3 May, 1980

Sample setlist

  1. Soft And Wet
  2. Why U Wanna Treat Me So Bad?
  3. Still Waiting
  4. I Feel For You
  5. Sexy Dancer
  6. Just As Long As We’re Together
  7. I Wanna Be Your Lover

Supporting album

Prince

Prince

Warner Bros. Records

Released
19 October 1979
US Chart Peak
22
UK Chart Peak
Not charted

Prince Tour Trivia

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