Prince Gathers No Moss on ‘Honky Tonk Women': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
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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 ushered in a new breed of guitar hero with his seemingly otherworldly talent, but his rock ‘n’ roll roots started right here on Earth — and he offered a rare reminder with his 1993 cover of the Rolling Stones‘ “Honky Tonk Women.”
The cover was tracked during the power trio sessions that produced that year’s quickly completed (and long-vaulted) The Undertaker LP. “Honky Tonk Women” also continued a long association between Prince and the Stones that definitely had its share of ups and downs — the latter of which is arguably best reflected in the fallout from a pair of shared 1981 gigs.
Invited to warm up the crowd before two Rolling Stones shows in Los Angeles, Prince was infamously pelted with debris by an unruly crowd with no patience for the future star. Although Stones guitarist Keith Richards later mocked Prince’s attitude (joking that he was “a prince who thinks he’s a king already”), singer Mick Jagger showed more support: “I told him, if you get to be a really big headliner, you have to be prepared for people to throw bottles at you in the night.”
Of course, Prince soon became one of the biggest rock stars on the planet — and he remained a Stones fan. Five years after the L.A. debacle, Prince covered their hit “Miss You” with Sting on bass and Stones guitarist Ron Wood sitting in. Seven years after that, he worked “Honky Tonk Women” into the Undertaker sessions. Shortly after cutting his cover, he played the song live during a London concert, and he’d continue to work it into his set lists on and off for the next 15 years or so.
Still, the public relationship between Prince and the Rolling Stones would continue to be a little prickly on occasion: Richards infamously referred to him as “an overrated midget” in his autobiography — but he had kinder words in the wake of Prince’s passing, calling him “a true original” and “a great guitar player.” Jagger described him as “a revolutionary artist, a wonderful musician and composer,” while Wood said he’d “miss a good friend who was so talented.”
“In his position, doing what he does, with what he does, he’s by far and away the best, I think,” drummer Charlie Watts mused in 1994. “Most exciting, Prince is – he’s a good player, as well. When you’re that good, you don’t start nowhere. You can’t be half of these guys unless you’re grounded and, on top of that, have a very good natural ability.”
Prince Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness