“Prince: The Little Giant”: A random selection of some of the Purple One’s candid TV interviews

By on September 19, 2018

Prince: The Little Giant features a curiously random selection of more than a half-dozen of the Purple One‘s many candid television interviews, including his early 1980 appearance on TV’s “American Bandstand,” where a 21-year old tight-lipped and non-communicative Prince gives host Dick Clark a difficult time for trying to get him to answer questions like “How many instruments do you play?”

Watch this fascinating hour-long collection of TV interview footage — which contains no Prince music, but you can always play one of his albums in the background while you watch this — which you’ll find streaming in our Prince section over on Night Flight Plus.

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We can’t give you too many details about this one, but we’ll tell you what we know.

Johnny Diamond is credited as the film’s director,  and most of this footage all seems to have been sourced from various private VHS tapes (with the original onscreen chyron source blurred out).

There are no onscreen credits whatsoever, in fact, beyond the company “Petal Productions,” which leads us to believe that the interview footage may not have been licensed from the original owners (which may be why the title isn’t listed in IMDB).

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As we’ve noted above, the real highlight here is Prince’s “American Bandstand” appearance, which first aired on January 26, 1980.

Prince — who doesn’t really seem like he wants to do the interview, acting shy and standoffish, looking down at the studio floor, smiling, laughing and joking around — is super stylish looking in the clip, wearing tight gold lamé pants, his hair longish and wavy.

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Prince actually lies to Clark at one point, telling the host he’s nineteen years old — Prince was 21 at the time, though, since he was born on June 7, 1958 — and when Clark asks him how long he’d been playing by that point, he holds up four fingers (meaning “four years”).

As Prince’s real devoted and loyal fans surely know, Prince Rogers Nelson turned down his first offers of a major label record deal because he wanted to produce his own recordings himself, and when Dick Clark asks him about it, Prince tells him: “They wouldn’t let me produce myself.”

“Do you think they didn’t know what you were doing?” Clark asks him. “Don’t know,” Prince tells him.

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Later, Clark asked how many instruments Prince could play.

Prince looks down at his feet, smirking, before he answers:

“Thousands.”

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This appearance was right after his second album, the self-titled Prince, was released just a few months earlier, on October 19, 1979.

We sure wish we had footage of that infamous Gong Show appearance he did around the same, though, we’d love to see that!

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Read more about Prince: The Little Giant below.

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This collection of candid interviews features a handful of of sit-downs with other familiar TV talk show hosts, including two different appearances with late night host Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” (possibly July 24, 1998, and one of the many times he appeared on the show in the 2000’s).

We also get to see his memorable appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” during the show’s first season (March 3, 2004), and there’s also video footage of Chris Rock talking to Prince on VH1’s “VH1 to One” (February 1, 1997).

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We also see Prince talking Larry King on CNN’s “Larry King Live” (December 10, 1999); an excerpt of Prince talking to Tavis Smiley on his BET network show “Talk Back with Tavis Smiley” (October 27, 1998); Prince talking with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC’s “Special Report” (April 19, 2004); and, Prince chatting with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “The Today Show” (not sure of the date).

There were a few others besides those, but we didn’t recognize the TV show hosts doing the interviews and there were no credits, so let us know in the comments if you can figure it out!

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Highlights abound, of course.

We loved how Prince jokes with Ellen about his fashion sense (“I’m not used to having women buy my shorts for me,” he told her) and we also loved seeing Ellen holding up her very own copy of Prince’s first album, For You, released in April 1978, a few months before his 20th birthday.

This is followed by Prince telling the audience, “That’s why I’m here — she’s from the old school, she knows what’s up.”

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As for the interview Prince does with Chris Rock, Rock asks Prince to give us his thoughts on religion (which would drastically change in the years after this interview), what the world “elevator” really meant in his song “Let’s Go Crazy,” and why he didn’t collaborate with Michael Jackson on Jackson’s album Bad.

On “Larry King Live,” the Artist Formerly Known as Prince — or The Artist, which is what he was also known as at the time — Prince talked to Larry King about his career, his first new album in three years, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, which had just been released, and why he decided to take the step to replace his name with a symbol.

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King: “So how did ‘the artist formerly known as’ come about?

The Artist: “That came up through people’s problem with — mainly the media’s problem with not having a pronunciation for the symbol. So they had to come up with something I guess.”

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When King asks, “Can you tell us what it signifies?,” Prince answers him: “Well, me…” before he explains further that he’s always “morphed the female and the male symbol together,” telling King “It makes for great jewelry, too.”

Watch Prince: The Little Giant and other Prince-related documentaries on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.