Prince Covers ‘Come Together,’ But Claims He Really Isn’t That Into the Beatles: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Prince, it seemed, was never a big Beatles fan. He came to the group relatively late in life and, though it certainly influenced a key career moment, Prince tended to treat their towering legacy with a trademark standoffishness.
He was more than willing, in the Around the World in a Day era, to leverage ideas traced back to the Beatles' trippy psychedelic phase. But he resisted, even as they began to appear in his set lists, from falling completely under the Beatles' spell.
He performed "With A Little Help From My Friends" on several occasions between 2008-14, "The Long and Winding Road" in the 2007-09 era, "Come Together" from 2006-09 and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," in a titanic turn at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. In fact, if not for that magical night in 2004, "Come Together" might have become his most famous Beatles cover after it showed up as part of a celebrated set at Coachella four years later.
The Beatles tune would typically be linked in concert with "7," Prince's Top 10 hit from 1992's Love Symbol Album. He combined it with "Come Together" again at Coachella, then chose the medley to stream on the day his lotusflower.com website launched in 2009. Another version, this one featuring singer Shelby J., the late drummer John Blackwell and horn player Maceo Parker, was shared by Andy Allo in 2011.
Prince's belated first encounter with the Beatles reportedly happened while touring behind 1984's Purple Rain, when he found Revolution members Bobby Z, Dez Dickerson and Matt "Dr." Fink listening to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on the bus.
Again, Prince didn't seem that impressed – but apparently only because they had already reached one of the album's lesser-known tracks, "Good Morning, Good Morning." "He said, 'What's that?'" Bobby Z told Diffuser. "We said, 'That's Sgt. Pepper.' He went, 'The Beatles. Ehhh? Really?' You know, it was just like that."
They returned to the album's beginning, and Prince's attitude changed. "I think he realized that the Beatles were more than he thought," Bobby Z added. "He just kind of swallowed them up. You can tell that Around the World in a Day — I’m just assuming a lot, and he’d probably get mad — but I’m assuming that by swallowing up Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper that Around the World in a Day is definitely influenced by it."
It didn't last. That breathtaking 2004 solo at the end of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" remains one of the signature moments in the history of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But Prince claimed he'd never listened to George Harrison's standout track from the White Album before producers sent him a pre-show copy to prepare.
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