Prince Pays Tribute to Jill Jones on ‘She’s Always In My Hair': 365 Prince Song 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.
Plucked from the Around the World in a Day sessions for a b-side to 1985's "Raspberry Beret" single, "She's Always In My Hair" immortalized another of Prince's many proteges – this time, singer and actress Jill Jones. Her tale, unfortunately, followed a well-established pattern.
"Jill was around at that time, and he really loved her," engineer Susan Rogers says in Prince and the 'Purple Rain' Era Studio Sessions. "He had a lot of affection for her but, as he said, 'She was always in his hair.' She was one of those women who wasn't doing anything wrong. She was always there, telling him how much she cared and he said it with a great deal of affection. He really cared for her a lot."
Jones had met Prince when she was working as a youthful backup singer for Teena Marie, who was serving as the opening act on the Dirty Mind tour.
Jones was invited to sing on the sessions for 1999, and appeared in video clips for the title song, "Automatic" and "Little Red Corvette" before securing on-screen roles in both Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge.
They quickly developed a nearly symbiotic relationship of strong-willed personalities. Sometimes, that put Jones at odd with others in Prince's camp.
“No one else championed me at Paisley Park, except Prince – nobody," Jones told the Huffington Post in 2016. "In fact, I don’t think half of the people liked me to be honest with you, because I was his friend and I guessed I never minced my words. I always tell him what I thought and I wasn’t trying to be everybody’s friend."
Eventually, as with so many of Prince's female musical apprentices, they began dating. "I'd never met anyone like him before – not at all," Jones told GQ in 2016. "It was just his confidence. And he was really shy, too, so there was this childlike thing that went with it. He totally threw me off, because he didn't do what every other guy did – like, come to your house at the right time and pick you up, meet your mom and dad. Prince would throw rocks at your window while you were sleeping. He did things that were almost like something from a fairy tale."
"She's Always in My Hair" was begun during those heady early days, with initial tracking in December 1983 around the same time as "Erotic City" and "We Can Funk," according to PrinceVault. Prince then returned to it the following year, before discarding these second sessions for his original solo take.
Rogers later enthused about what was left behind. "He got this incredible guitar tone, played the lead line and we all flipped for it," she says in Prince and the 'Purple Rain' Era Studio Sessions. "When he would really dig in guitar and really get a great rock sound, and play a great line, it's amazing. The band wasn't in; just he and I [were] recording."
Unfortunately, and this was also sadly typical, Jones eventually got left behind, as well.
She also recorded backing vocals for albums by the Time, Sheila E., Mazarati and Apollonia 6 between 1983-87, amongst other Prince projects, before the two of them collaborated on Jones' self-titled 1987 debut album for Paisley Park Records. She said completion of Jill Jones changed things, almost overnight.
"When you got an album completed, you were done as a romantic interest," Jones told the Huffington Post. "Like, you were still there but he was putting you in a place where you weren’t going to just be a happy power couple. You were given your wings to go do your thing. ... Some guys send you flowers," she added with a laugh, "Prince would just give you an album."
Their relationship was bolstered by that kind of brutal honesty, and it shoots through "She's Always In My Hair," too. But it actually didn't come naturally to Jones, at least not at first. She says Prince pushed her toward her most independent self. “I don’t meet people and say something provocative," Jones told Huffington Post. "He stirred my being; he unnerved me – he rattled me. I had not met anyone like him, and I was really defiant with him out of the reactionary response."
Still, as much as Prince clearly liked tangling with such a worth adversary, Jones said she knew from the first what his true priorities always were. "I really, truly believe that Prince was married to his music," Jones said in Prince and the 'Purple Rain' Era Studio Sessions. "There was no woman who could ever, ever rival that – or compete. No way. You could try to fit in next to it – but, nah, it was his music."