NEW YORK — On his own, Prince was a revolutionary recording artist and one-man band. But the nearly-40 year career that ended with his death Thursday was hardly a private party. The other half of his musical legacy were his many collaborations and contributions, whether joining Stevie Wonder on stage in Paris for a spontaneous jam of “Superstition” or writing such future hits as “I Feel for You” and “Manic Monday” and giving them to other artists.
In an industry where collaborations with other artists and credits are negotiated as heavily as world treaties, Prince followed only one credo when it came to working with others: the love of the music.
“Oh yes, he loved helping other people,” said his friend and former fiancee Sheila E., “and helping people by saying, ‘Hey, here’s a song you might want to do or like, I think this fits you, or you know come into the studio and see if we can work together.’ ”
In recent years, he boosted singer-songwriters such as Judith Hill, Lianne La Havas, Esperanza Spalding and Liv Warfield, and recorded singers like Rita Ora. Kendrick Lamar was among the many who traveled to Paisley Park for his famous late-night jams.
Among the countless tributes to Prince over the past few days were stories of his generosity and inspiration.
On her Facebook page, Erykah Badu shared a litany of memories.
Singer Kandace Springs told the Associated Press that she was contacted by Prince a couple of years ago through Twitter after he saw a YouTube video for her cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.” Skeptical at first that the encouraging notes really were from Prince, she was on a plane to his home in Paisley Park within days and was asked to close his 30th anniversary concert for “Purple Rain.”
Prince was so prolific a songwriter that demos or B-sides became hits for others, often by design. Cyndi Lauper and Mitch Ryder covered “When You Were Mine,” an aching love song originally on the flip side of Prince’s single “Controversy.”
Prince wrote Sheila E.’s signature hit, “The Glamorous Life,” while an early song he worked on, “I Feel for You,” became a smash for Chaka Khan.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” was Sinead O’Connor’s biggest hit. For the Bangles, he wrote one of their biggest hits, “Manic Monday,” under the pseudonym “Christopher.”
“(Prince) really liked our first album,” the Bangles’ Debbi Peterson told MTV UK in 1989. “He liked the song ‘Hero Takes a Fall,’ which is a great compliment, because we liked his music. He contacted us, and said, ‘I’ve got a couple of songs for you. I’d like to know if you’re interested,’ and of course we were.”