Fiona Adams, Beatles Photographer, Dead at 84

Photographer Fiona Adams, best known for her pictures of classic rock icons including the Beatles, has died at the age of 84.

Adams’ death was confirmed by her son, Karl. The photographer reportedly passed on June 26 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Born in Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel, Adams left her hometown to study photography at the Ealing of School of Art. Her early work included architectural pictures, travel photographs and contributions to the Sunday Times newspaper.

While working for the London-based magazine Boyfriend in the early ‘60s, Adams career would reach a major turning point. The shutterbug was given the assignment of photographing an up-and-coming pop group called the Beatles.

Rather than doing a traditional studio shoot, Adams elected to capture the Fab Four among the ruins of a London bomb site. “Music was changing,” she later explained, “and I wanted to reflect this with a more dynamic, natural background.”

At the photographer’s direction, the young rockers jumped in the air. Doing so created one of the band’s most timeless images.

“I struggled down into the crater with my heavy camera case,” Adams recalled. “There was a pile of fallen bricks and detritus at the bottom. The boys did their bit and stood patiently – beautifully silhouetted against the sky and the buildings. I set up my camera and shouted: ‘One, two, three – jump!’ And they jumped – twice. Cuban heels and all.”

“I didn’t even think to check whether it was safe or not,” Adams would later admit to friend Lynne Ashton.

The band liked the pictures so much, they elected to use one for the cover of their Twist and Shout EP.

Adams would photograph the Beatles on many more occasions as the band elevated to worldwide superstardom. Though the group’s jumping image would remain the most iconic of her career, it was far from Adams’ only work with legendary artists.

The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix are among the vaunted rockers to appear in Adams’ material. Arguably the photographer’s most popular non-Beatles image was a 1965 picture of Bob Dylan, capturing the singer as he lounged with a cigarette at London’s Savoy Hotel.

Adams would later marry and have two children, focussing her time on family more than art.

In 2009, the National Portrait Gallery in England featured her work as part of an exhibition called Beatles to Bowie: The 60s Exposed. The exhibit referred to her Beatles picture as “one of the defining images of 20th-century culture,” while Adams was described as “an unsung heroine of the decade.”

See more examples of Adams work below.

Powered by ProGo Productions

Brian Epstein Film ‘Midas Man’ Tabs Grammy-Winning Director

A new movie chronicling the life of Beatles manager Brian Epstein has found its director. The project, titled Midas Man, will be helmed by multi-Grammy winner Jonas Akerlund.

Epstein has commonly been referred to as “the fifth Beatle,” a title bestowed due to his invaluable role in making the Fab Four the biggest band in the world. The manager discovered the group, signed it to its first contract and oversaw the Beatles’ rise in fame. Epstein’s story is also one of tragedy, as he spent years hiding his homosexuality and died of a drug overdose at the age of 32.

“Brian Epstein’s story has everything I’m looking for in a story,” Akerlund told Variety. “It’s all about Brian’s singularity for me. I love that Brian seemed to know every step of the way what no one else knew, he saw things that no one else saw. His vision was astonishing, he created a culture that didn’t exist. The film is more like touring Brian’s mind and what it was like to be him than how one thing led to another chronologically. I want to bring him back to life.”

Akerlund has a long and varied resume, with many major music videos to his name. The director has helmed work for Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, U2, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Duran Duran, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Madonna and Taylor Swift.

Midas Man producer Trevor Beattie noted that Akerlund had a “rock ‘n’ roll heart,” and “understands music and the music industry,” making him a natural choice for the Epstein film.

Midas Man will be shot in London, Liverpool and the U.S., with release scheduled for 2021.

This is not the first time Epstein’s story has been slated for a big-screen adaptation. In 2013, a film called The Fifth Beatle – based on the graphic novel of the same name – announced that Peyton Reed would direct. It has since evolved into a television project, with Bravo acquiring the rights. Reed, whose credits include Bring It On, Yes Man and Ant-Man is no longer aligned with that project.

Powered by ProGo Productions

New Beatles Lego Art Set Revealed

Lego has unveiled a new Beatles set, allowing fans to create pop art portraits of the Fab Four.

The release is part of a new product line from the toy manufacturer, geared towards an adult audience. Branded as “Lego Art”, these sets offer fans the ability to create wall decor themed around some of pop-culture’s most recognizable icons. Initial sets include Star Wars, Iron Man and Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe art. The Beatles’ version is the only music related set announced thus far.

“Music lovers can bring Beatle-fandom into the home with a Lego portrait of their favorite band member, whether it’s John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison or Sir Ringo Starr,” noted a press release announcing the line. “Each set can be used to create four unique portraits or collect four and display the full band side-by-side.”

The images are created with small, circular pieces, rather than the traditional brick blocks associated with Lego. With a total of 2933 pieces, the set will undoubtedly take some time to put together, but should offer fans a unique item to display once completed.

The Beatles Lego Art set also comes with an accompanying soundtrack, designed to “immerse you in stories and unexpected details about the band.”

See images of the new Beatles Lego set in our gallery below.

Each set is priced at $119.99, equalling a price tag of roughly $480 if you wanted to display all four members. Lego fan site Brick Fanatics states that the sets will be available in the U.S. in September, however the Lego official website simply says the items are “coming soon.”

This isn’t the first time the Beatles have been brought into the world of Lego. The toy manufacturer previously released a Yellow Submarine kit, styled after the Fab Four’s famous animated movie, and complete with Lego versions of all four Beatles members.

Powered by ProGo Productions

Watch Miley Cyrus Sing the Beatles’ ‘Help!’ in Empty Rose Bowl

Miley Cyrus adds a country-rock twang to the Beatles‘ “Help!” in a new cover version. In an accompanying video, aired Saturday during Global Citizen’s “Global Goal: Unite for Our Future” livestream, the pop singer belts the 1965 song in an empty Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. Watch below.

Throughout the track, Cyrus adopts a thick rasp over a breezy arrangement of acoustic guitars, pedal-steel and brushed drums. In a caption opening the video, she writes, “Dedicated to those who are tirelessly working on testing, treatment and vaccines so all of us can come together in places like this empty stadium again…”

Cyrus also commented on the cover via Twitter, writing, “For me, the magic of performing is sharing and celebrating music together…being surrounded by people and feeling their energy! During this time of COVID-19, we are coming together in a different way…we are uniting with the goal of ensuring EVERYONE has access to the solutions to end this pandemic.”

The livestream, which focused on the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities, also featured performances from artists like Coldplay, Usher, Justin Bieber, Shakira and Jennifer Hudson, among others.

The singer has previously covered a wide variety of classic rock artists onstage, including Pink Floyd (both “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb”), Led Zeppelin (“Black Dog”), Metallica (“Nothing Else Matters”), Nine Inch Nails (“Head Like a Hole”), Temple of the Dog (“Say Hello 2 Heaven”) and Paul Simon (“50 Ways to Leave Your Way”). She’s also performed live, separately, with both Elton John and Billy Idol.

See Eric Clapton’s Guitar Hero Yearbook Picture

Powered by ProGo Productions

When the Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ Started a Prison Riot

Actor Danny Trejo, best known for playing movie hardass Machete, recalled the moment when the Beatles’ classic “Hey Jude” kicked off a prison riot in 1968.

He was serving 18 months in solitary confinement at the time, having built a criminal record of drug and armed-robbery offenses. Even though those days are far behind him, he can’t forget the moment one of his favorite songs caused an episode of emotion-driven violence.

“It’s always real noisy and chaotic in the hole, and this song comes on and you can barely hear it from the officer’s radio,” Trejo told NME in a new interview.. “And the hole got quiet and quiet and quiet. It’s not good when the hole is quiet. And then, ‘Judy Judy Judy Judy Judyyyyyy!’ Sinks were broken! Toilets were flooded! We went just totally insane! … That song was so beautiful it was worth a riot.”

In 2016, he recounted a similar version of the story, telling Metal Hammer that Abbey Road was the record from his collection he wished he’d helped make. “It’s awesome,” Trejo said. “When I went to England, I walked down Abbey Road. I had to do it!”

In the new interview, the 76-year-old actor said he found his coronavirus lockdown “kind of funny.” “I did 18 months in the hole!” he explained. “So this is like time out in your house. I can go to my beautiful backyard. I got a swimming pool. I got food. In the hole you get a square of processed foods all scrunched together. The first three days you’re there, you’re like, ‘I ain’t eating that crap’, but on the fourth day … .”

Powered by ProGo Productions

Museum Concludes No Link Between ‘Penny Lane’ + Slave Trader

Earlier this month, Liverpool’s Penny Lane, which inspired the Beatles song of the same name, was vandalized with the perpetrators suggesting that the landmark had ties to 18th century slave trader James Penny. That prompted the city to request an investigation into the street’s naming origin. Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum has now concluded that there is no connection between Penny Lane and the aforementioned James Penny.

After the street signs were graffiti’d, Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram suggested that if there were evidence of a tie to slavery, then the historic landmark could be in consideration to be renamed. Soon after, historian Richard MacDonald and a group of historians investigated further the origins of Penny Lane.

The earliest mention of the lane was from the 1840s, when it was known as Pennies Lane. In maps dating back to the 1700s, it was only listed as an unnamed country road. The slave trader James Penny died in 1799, but already had a street named after him with the citizens bestowing the name Arrad Street to mark his birthplace in Ulverston, Cumbria.

MacDonald says that Penny Lane would have been a fairly rural country lane at the time, so it seems out of character that a lane in the middle of the country would be named after someone the way prestigious streets in town often were.

“[Me and a group of historians] have been working on this since about 2010 together — if not slightly earlier individually,” local historian Richard MacDonald told Rolling Stone. “It’s been an academic debate, really. So it’s a bit of a surprise to us all, to be honest; we’re sort of taken aback. We’re not used to this larger media interest in the names of streets going back to this, you know, 17- and 1800s — it’s not the usual thing that makes the news.”

David Bedford, author of “Liddypool: Birthplace of the Beatles,” told Rolling Stone that he had also done extensive research on the area. “I started realizing the importance of the area; I’ve lived around Penny Lane for over 30 years now. I realized this isn’t just a little song about a place that they Beatles remembered — when they say it’s in their ears, in their eyes, this was their childhood. Everything comes back to Penny Lane. Unless you come to the area and see it for yourself, you don’t get the full significance of it.”

The International Slavery Museum, which had included Penny Lane in an exhibit, has since issued a statement proclaiming there are no ties between Penny Lane and James Penny. They also are removing Penny Lane from their display. The organization spoke with multiple slavery historians and “have concluded that the comprehensive research available to us now demonstrates that there is no historical evidence linking Penny Lane to James Penny.”

“This will be a relief to Beatles fans and the local tourism industry, but it also means that the Slavery Museum can continue with the excellent work they do to educate, inform and help us learn from history,” said Bedford after learning of the findings.

Meanwhile, the actual origin of the name “Penny Lane” still remains a bit of a mystery. “One of the major problems we’ve got is that it’s almost impossible to say exactly why it was named Penny Lane,” MacDonald stated. “It’s one of the things about history — quite often, when you go back that far, when you go back [200] or 300 years, you’re very unlikely to get solid answers to almost any question, because we just don’t have the records. And, you know, why would somebody record the name of a country lane?”

55 Best Metal Covers of Classic Rock Hits

Powered by ProGo Productions

Penny Lane Not Named After Slave Trader

The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool has concluded there’s no connection between Penny Lane, the street made famous in a Beatles song, and James Penny, a slave trader from the area.

The origin of Penny Lane’s name came into question after a press officer for the museum at Liverpool’s Albert Dock suggested the street was in honor of Penny. The roadway is among several in the city mentioned in an exhibit about streets named after slave traders. A new statement now retracts the museum’s suspicions about the name.

“After speaking with Liverpool slavery historian Laurence Westgaph, Tony Tibbles, our Emeritus Keeper of Slavery History (also former Director of Merseyside Maritime Museum) and historian and blogger Glen Huntley, we have concluded that the comprehensive research available to us now demonstrates that there is no historical evidence linking Penny Lane to James Penny,” reads the statement. “We are therefore extending our original review and setting up a participative project to renew our interactive display.”

However, it is known that Liverpool’s Arrad Street is named in recognition of Penny’s birthplace in Ulverston in England’s Cumbria region.

According to Ralph MacDonald, a local historian and tour guide, Penny Lane first appeared on a map in the 1840s as Pennies Lane, nearly half a century after Penny’s death in 1799. Prior to that, it was an unnamed road far beyond the center of Liverpool, which is one of the reasons MacDonald had doubts about its connection to Penny.

“Penny Lane about that time would have been a fairly rural country lane,” he told Rolling Stone. “So that struck me. It would be very off that a lane in the middle of the country would be named after somebody in the same way that prestigious streets in the town center would.”

As part of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, street signs for Penny Lane were defaced, using black paint to erase the word “Penny” and put “Racist” above the sign. Shortly after that, Liverpool’s metro mayor, Steve Rotherham, said the historical significance of Penny Lane should be further investigated.

MacDonald said he and a group of historians “have been working on this since about 2010 together — if not slightly earlier individually. It’s been an academic debate, really. So it’s a bit of a surprise to us all, to be honest. We’re sort of taken aback. We’re not used to this larger media interest in the names of streets going back to this, you know, 17 and 1800s — it’s not the usual thing that makes the news.”

He also said his research hasn’t been able to unearth a precise reason for the Penny Lane name.

Powered by ProGo Productions

Penny Lane, Beatles Inspiration, May Be Renamed Over Slavery Ties

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen many a statue be reconsidered due to past ties to racial inequality and a history in slavery-era America, but it’s possible a musical landmark may also soon be affected. According to NME (via Sky News), Liverpool officials are considering the future of Penny Lane, the site that inspired the Beatles chart-topper of the same name, after road signs were vandalized due to alleged ties to slave trader James Penny.

Vandals reportedly blacked out the word “Penny” on the street signs found along the famous thoroughfare, writing the word “Racist” near the signs last Thursday night (June 11).

The city’s regional mayor, Steve Rotherham, stated that the road could be renamed if the connection to James Penny is proven. “If it is as a direct consequence of that road being called Penny Lane because of James Penny, then that needs to be investigated,” said Rotherham, adding, “Something needs to happen and I would say that sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed.” But, he also added that at present, there is no evidence that the street was actually named after Penny.

“Just imagine not having a Penny Lane and the Beatles’ song not being about somewhere,” said the mayor. “I don’t believe it is associated with James Penny.” Rotherham says that after doing some reading, he learned that the street name may have been associated with a toll that was once paid in pennies to cross the road.

“It’s for other people to decide whether they think it’s appropriate that road sign is taken down, if indeed there is any link to either slavery or other incidences,” he continued. “I’m not pretending or I wouldn’t presume to tell people in communities in the Liverpool city region what they should be thinking. It needs to be investigated and then, if it’s found as a direct link then action can be taken.”

Liverpool councilor and history teacher Liz Makinson has also weighed in on the topic, revealing in a video she posted, “There is a weight of evidence to suggest the origins of the name. None of it points in any way to James Penny.”

In addition, Liverpool’s own International Slavery Museum has stated that evidence of James Penny’s link to the street is “not conclusive.” Their full statement can be viewed below:

“Penny Lane” was released by the Beatles in 1967 as part of a double A-side with “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been certified as a gold single in the U.S.

Speaking about the inspiration for the song, Paul McCartney told Clash Music, “‘Penny Lane’ was kind of nostalgic, but it was really [about] a place that John [Lennon] and I knew … I’d get a bus to his house and I’d have to change at Penny Lane, or the same with him to me, so we often hung out at that terminus, like a roundabout. It was a place that we both knew, and so we both knew the things that turned up in the story.”

55 Best Metal Covers of Classic Rock Hits

Powered by ProGo Productions

Penny Lane Could Be Renamed Due to Possible Slavery Connection

The city of Liverpool is looking at the history of Penny Lane to determine if the street, memorialized in a Beatles song of the same name, is named after a notorious slave trader.

The idea surfaced after statues and other objects commemorating the lives of those who perpetuated slavery and institutional racism are being rethought in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests taking place around the globe.

Several street signs marking Penny Lane, usually a place where Beatles fans leave their name, were defaced recently, with the word “Penny” crossed out and “Racist” written above it. Some people believe the street is named after James Penny, an 18th century slave trader.

“If it is as a direct consequence of that road being called Penny Lane because of James Penny, then that needs to be investigated,” Steve Rotherham, Liverpool’s metro mayor said on Sky News (via NME). “Something needs to happen, and I would say that sign and that road may well be in danger of being renamed.”

However, the origins of the street’s name are not known. A spokesperson for the International Slavery Museum, which sits on Liverpool’s Albert Dock, said evidence is “not conclusive” as to whether the street is named after Penny. Rotherham added that he’s “done a bit of reading on this” and believes that it may have to do with the cost of a toll needed to cross the road.

“It’s for other people to decide whether they think it’s appropriate that road sign is taken down, if indeed there is any link to either slavery or other incidences,” Rotherham noted. “I’m not pretending or I wouldn’t presume to tell people in communities in the Liverpool city region what they should be thinking. It needs to be investigated and then, if it’s found as a direct link then action can be taken.”

The International Slavery Museum was established in 2007 on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in England. It explores the significant role the port city of Liverpool played in transporting an estimated 1.5 million enslaved Africans to the Caribbean and the Americas so that future generations can understand the impact of slavery over the years.

Powered by ProGo Productions

Battle Over Early Beatles Demo Valued at $6 Million Goes to Court

A battle over ownership of an early Beatles demo recording is set to go to court this week.

Longtime sound engineer Geoff Emerick taped the band’s first-ever session at Abbey Road Studios on Jun. 6, 1962, before Ringo Starr was a member. The recording is said to include a performance of “Love Me Do.” When it was judged to be of insufficient quality, the EMI label ordered Emerick to destroy it — but instead he kept it until his death in 2018.

Now Universal Music Group, who took over EMI in 2012, want it returned, in the belief that it could be worth up to £5 million ($6.3 million), the Sun reported. “A legal showdown between his family and Universal over who should have the tape is expected to begin in California on Tuesday,” the paper said. “Mr. Emerick’s family argue they are entitled to keep it because of finder’s law. Universal say the law does not apply.”

In 2017, Emerick told Variety how he became part of the Beatles’ story early on and remained a part of their studio team until their split. “I was dropped into the deep end of the pond,” he said. “I was mastering American records for the U.K. market one day, and the next day, when I was around 19, I was working on Revolver.” He added that he’d been “part of the most amazing process, observing songs in the process of creation” and described his work on “A Day in the Life” as one of his greatest achievements. “[T]he night we put the orchestra on it, the whole world went from black and white to color,” he said.

Powered by ProGo Productions

‘Beatles: Get Back’ Movie Postponed Until Next Year

Peter Jackson‘s upcoming documentary about the Beatles‘ troubled Get Back sessions has been postponed until next year.

The Beatles: Get Back, which chronicles the group’s rehearsals and performances from January 1969 as it began work on a new album, won’t premiere until August 2021. The movie was originally scheduled to open in September but has now been delayed for almost a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to The Wrap, The Beatles: Get Back is just one of several projects that Disney has postponed until next year. The film expands on the Beatles’ original 1970 movie Let It Be, which was envisioned as a TV special before the group changed direction during the making of the album.

The Beatles had intended to “get back” to their roots with a new stripped-down record following the studio experiments of albums like 1966’s Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the next year, as well as the tumultuous and often fractured sessions of the White Album in 1968.

But things didn’t turn out that way, and band members were soon quarreling with one another. After a live performance on the roof of their Apple headquarters was shut down by the police, the Beatles abandoned the Get Back project, where it sat on the shelf for a year before producer Phil Spector assembled the tapes into the final album released by the group, Let It Be.

The accompanying film, which has been out of circulation for years, documented the splintering band and the making of the LP. Jackson’s new version will include previously unseen footage, which reportedly gives a more clear indication of what was really going down during the sessions. According to various accounts, the new scenes show things weren’t as tense as Let It Be and legend indicate.

“I am really happy that Peter has delved into our archives to make a film that shows the truth about the Beatles recording together,” Paul McCartney said in an earlier statement. “The friendship and love between us comes over and reminds me of what a crazily beautiful time we had.”

Ringo Starr added: “I’m really looking forward to this film. Peter is great, and it was so cool looking at all this footage. There was hours and hours of us just laughing and playing music, not at all like the version that came out. There was a lot of joy, and I think Peter will show that. I think this version will be a lot more peace and loving, like we really were.”

Jackson’s movie will also include the entirety of the famous rooftop concert. The Let It Be film included about half of the performance’s 42 minutes. Shortly after that impromptu lunchtime show, the Beatles started work on another new album, Abbey Road, which became their last LP recorded together – and, perhaps not coincidentally, one that captured the back-to-basics spirit they were trying to achieve earlier in 1969.

Powered by ProGo Productions

How the Beatles, Stones, Hendrix and Others Influenced Prince

A new book about Prince digs deep into the musician’s studio catalog, live shows, controversies and personal relationships. Arthur Lizie’s Prince FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Purple Reign is out June 15 via Backbeat, but we have an exclusive excerpt below.

According to a listing on AmazonPrince FAQ will offer a “detailed chronological overview of Prince’s prodigious released and unreleased recorded musical output and epic live performances,” while also diving into his musical collaborators (including the Revolution, New Power Generation and Third Eye Girl), rivalries and other iconic career moments (like “his battle against Warner Bros. and the music industry that caused him to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol”). The book, currently available for pre-order, will also feature “dozens of rare images” among its 368 pages.

In our preview, Lizie details Prince’s eclectic musical influences, including the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, Carlos Santana, Joni Mitchell and Parliament/Funkadelic. (Sections devoted to James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis will also appear in this chapter.)

You can read the excerpt below.

Musicology: Musical Influences

Prince’s work feels both familiar and different. As with other talented artists, it’s like he joined an ongoing conversation, but he says things no one ever said before and says them in ways no one else imagined. This chapter is about the familiar that allowed Prince to be different, the other speakers in the ongoing conversation Prince joined with his music. Whom was he listening to? Whom was he responding to? On the shoulders of which giants was he standing in his custom-made, high-heel Andre No. 1 boots?

Sly and the Family Stone

Born Sylvester Stewart, Sly Stone could do it all and do it young—guitar, keyboard, vocals, bass, and drums before he was a teen. He listened to black and white radio growing up. He not only led his own band, the Family Stone, but also wrote for others and tried to cultivate a stable of artists on his own label: Stone Flower. He self-produced his debut album. His band was purposefully mixed by race and gender. He dressed to make a woman stare. Larry Graham was his bassist.

Musically, Sly helped not only to invent funk but also to wed it with catchy pop hooks, placing multiple singles in the top 100 and landing three at the top of the charts; a song like “Mountains” would fit in on any late 1960s Sly album. He mastered the art of blending multiple voices and harmonies on songs like “You Can Make It If You Try,” a mixture that Prince used on many songs, such as “Daddy Pop.” According to the Crystal Ball liner notes, Prince recorded “Make Your Mama Happy” after listening to Fresh. Further, Sly was a technological pioneer, with There’s a Riot Going On the first major album and “Family Affair” the first number one single to feature Prince’s early go-to studio instrument: the drum machine. Lyrically, Sly’s early career was marked by an almost naive self-help optimism that, like Prince, turned later to a more race-aware resolve. And Larry Graham was his bassist.

Prince dug deeper and more often into the Sly and the Family Stone catalog than any other artist’s, due in part due to his friendship with Graham. Prince most frequently covered the number one hit “Everyday People.” It appeared on 1998’s New Power Soul tour and was played about 100 times over the next two decades, occasionally with Family Stone members Jerry Martini (saxophone) and Cynthia Robinson (trumpet). “If You Want Me to Stay” was released in a medley with “Just Friends (Sunny)” on the One Nite Alone … The Aftershow LP.

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana is a solo artist and leader of the ever-enduring band Santana. The Mexican-born guitarist is best known for fusing rock music and Latin American rhythms in the late 1960s, typified by the FM classic “Black Magic Woman.” He became a household name in 1969 with the release of the band’s double-platinum self-titled debut LP and a star-making appearance at Woodstock. Featuring a revolving door of lead singers, most notably Journey founder Greg Rolie, Santana released thirteen consecutive top forty albums through 1982’s Shangó. The band enjoyed a revival—seven straight top ten LPs—starting with 1999’s Supernatural, which has outsold Purple Rain by a cool 2 million copies.

Santana is known for his sweet, soaring guitar solos, and that’s his primary influence on Prince. His style is inviting and pleasant, challenging but never disrupting the listener. A line can be drawn from Santana to some of Prince’s most anthemic solos, such as “Empty Room,” “Gold,” and, of course, “Purple Rain.” The guitar-fueled Lotusflow3r is a more Hendrix in sound but echoes the title of the 1974 live album Lotus. Santana IV, released less than a week before Prince’s death, was one of six albums he purchased at Electric Fetus in Minneapolis on April 16, Record Store Day 2016.

Prince often played the “Santana Medley,” known to Santana followers as “Santana Sandwich,” a union of “Jungle Strut,” “Batuka,” “Soul Sacrifice,” and “Toussaint L’Overture.” On June 20, 1999, Prince and Larry Graham joined Santana onstage in Minneapolis on the number one smash “The Calling,” and Santana repaid the favor on February 21, 2011, at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California, Santana taking the lead on “Santana Medley.”

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell is a Canadian singer-songwriter with big U.S. hits in 1974 with the number one LP Court and Spark and the Grammy Award–winning single “Help Me.” Her influence on Prince’s career and music is not readily apparent, and she often seems more of a muse or an unattainable high school crush. Mitchell almost says as much, recalling Prince as a doe-eyed fan at a mid-1970s Minneapolis show, one whose fan mail was deemed “lunatic fringe” by her management. She now claims him as the artist she’s influenced whose work she most appreciates.

That being said, there are references and traces. Controversy includes her name as a star-bordered newspaper headline on the back cover; 1975’s experimental The Hissing of Summer Lawns album is said to have inspired Prince’s eclectic departures on Around the World in a Day. “Help Me” is name checked in “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” and other lyrics and titles are influenced by Mitchell, such as “When We’re Dancing Close and Slow” from a “Coyote” lyric and “Ice Cream Castles” from “Both Sides Now.”

“A Case of You” is the first cover song Prince performed live after signing a contract, at the landmark August 3, 1983, First Avenue show. A studio version of the appears on One Nite Alone . . . as “A Case of U” and an edited version on 2007’s A Tribute to Joni Mitchell LP, while 2018 saw the release of his piano rehearsal version on Piano & a Microphone 1983. He performed the song regularly, with the last performance at the Atlanta, Georgia, early show on April 14, 2016. He performed the Mitchell-associated song “Twisted” during a few 2002 shows and recorded an unreleased studio version; he also paraphrases the song’s Annie Ross–written lyrics in the unreleased “Lust U Always.” He covered Mitchell’s “Blue Motel Room,” with lead vocals by Elisa Fiorillo (Dease), at the epic July 23, 2010, Paris New Morning aftershow.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was a charismatic stage performer, an effortless songwriter, and a distinctive singer. And the greatest guitarist of all time. Except Prince.

Comparing Prince to Hendrix was a knee-jerk reaction once Prince got popular and the media needed quick copy. And the comps are obvious. Early on, Hendrix wrote tight rock songs infused with blues and soul that had pop appeal. In person, he was shy with a good sense of humor but live was an extrovert. A wizard onstage, he was also at home in the studio creating deep sonic landscapes using the latest technology. In both places, he could do things that no one else had even dreamed about. And he oozed sexuality, a sexuality that made him exotic and dangerous.

Prince bristled at the comparisons, saying his guitar style was more Santana than Jimi. He was right, but the comparison wasn’t musical, simply what clicked in a lot of heads when they saw a black guy in flamboyant clothes tearing up a guitar on “Let’s Go Crazy.” And maybe it’s easy to confuse “Purple Haze” and “Purple Rain” if you’re in a rush.

The closest Prince got to a Hendrix phase was in 2009 with Lotusflow3r’s turned-to-eleven guitar attack. Hendrix is most obvious on “Dreamer,” which would be at home on Are You Experienced, and the 1960s cover “Crimson & Clover.” The latter includes the classic garage-band riff from “Wild Thing,” which Hendrix claimed as his own at 1967’s Monterey International Pop Music Festival by scorching the song and then torching his guitar.

Prince covered about ten Hendrix songs. Among the highlights are “Who Knows,” from Band of Gypsys, with a “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” quote, from a 2002 Copenhagen aftershow, and multiple performances of “Villanova Junction,” Hendrix’s Woodstock set closer.

Prince released two studio Hendrix covers. The renamed “Red House” appeared as “Purple House” on the LP Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix, and the reworked “Machine Gun” was an NPG Music Club Download in 2001 as “Habibi” (later edited to eliminate Hendrix references). Prince also recorded “Fire” with Margie Cox for the unfinished Flash/MC Flash album project in 1989. And some claim to hear the Experience’s “Third Stone from the Sun” mixed in with “Take Me with U” on “Rocknroll Loveaffair.”


P-Funk is a half-century-long party united under one hellacious groove by ringleader George Clinton. Anchored by the (nominally) more vocally oriented Parliament and more instrumentally inclined Funkadelic, the P-Funk collective is at turns doo-wop, hard rock, stand-up comedy, pure funk, frat party, political activism, and circus act. And that’s just during the first song of their three-plus-hour set.

Perhaps the biggest influence Clinton had on Prince is showing that it’s okay to have fun and even be goofy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taken seriously. For Parliament, that meant there’s no shame starting an LP side with the tongue-in-cheek (and other places) “I Call My Baby Pussycat” and ending it with “Oh Lord, Why Lord/Prayer.” And there’s no shame if one of your members appears onstage in diapers.

Parliament taught Prince, everyone really, the importance of stagecraft. The well-staged storytelling of Lovesexy live and the mammoth (if flawed) ambition of the “Endorphinmachine” don’t happen without P-Funk landing the Mothership onstage back in 1976. And it’s in the Lovesexy/Black Album period that the P-Funk influence mainly shows up in the grooves. In terms of song titles, it’s impossible not to see the influence of Parliament songs such as “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)” in “Superfunkycalifragisexy” and the unreleased “Soulpsychodelicide.” And the same P-Funk song, among others, leads a direct path in terms of electronically altered vocals to tunes such as “Lovesexy” and “Bob George,” not to mention 2007’s “F.U.N.K.,” which was originally streamed with the title “PFUnk.”

Prince played more than a dozen Parliament and Funkadelic songs live but often just played snippets or grooves interpolated into other songs or as parts of medleys. “Flash Light” from 1977’s Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome was played most often and given the most care. A live version from Amsterdam on July 26, 2011, was streamed the same day on Andy Allo’s Facebook page. In addition, Prince occasionally performed “Bootzilla” and “PsychoticBumpSchool” by P-Funk bassist extraordinaire Bootsy Collins (who also played with James Brown) and recorded “Cookie Jar,” written and recorded by original Parliament vocalist Fuzzy Haskins, and also released by P-Funk’s girl-group blueprint for Vanity 6: Parlet.

The Rolling Stones

In a genre almost defined by white appropriation of black music and culture, the Rolling Stones stand out as the rock act that has benefited the most by repackaging black music for white audiences (Elvis Presley included). This is not to belie their accomplishments or to attribute malicious intent but rather to give some context for Dez Dickerson’s claim that Prince wanted to be the “black version” of the Rolling Stones, with Dez’s Keith Richards to Prince’s Mick Jagger. What exactly is the black version of a white band that wants to be a black band? Maybe that’s the explanation of Prince that makes the most sense.

What about the Rolling Stones inspired Prince? Musically, they’re cut from the same cloth: their best songs are R&B-based pop songs with a rock edge, danceable, but more than just dance music. Lyrically, especially in the 1970s, Jagger pushed the boundaries of innuendo and appropriate language (e.g., “Star Star” aka “Star Fucker” and “Short and Curlies”), boundaries that Prince would push even further. Onstage, Prince copped many of Jagger’s moves (moves Jagger had copped from James Brown and others) and embraced the role of the hypersexualized singing/dancing front man. There’s also the sustained financial success helped in part by astute business acumen, from the genius branding of the tongue logo to pioneering sponsorship deals to the creation of the money-generating Mobile Studio. And the anger with management and record labels played out in song in ways that Prince could only dream about, on both the filthy unreleased “Andrew’s Blues,” about their manager Andrew Loog Oldham, and “Schoolboy Blues” (aka “Cocksucker Blues”), a barely released bit of obscenity created as a middle finger to Decca Records, which required one more single to fulfill the band’s 1970s contract.

The Stones were early Prince fans, inviting him to open two ill-fated Los Angeles shows in October 1981. Jagger learned “Little Red Corvette” on guitar for the band’s October 2016 appearances at Coachella’s Desert Trip (aka Oldchella), but the band didn’t follow suit and instead debuted a frequent Prince cover: the Beatles’ “Come Together.”

Prince played a few Rolling Stones song live. “Miss You” debuted at an August 13, 1986, aftershow at Busby’s in London, accompanied by Stones guitarist Ron Wood. “Honky Tonk Women” made numerous aftershow appearances and was recorded live in studio on June 14, 1993, for The Undertaker video.

The Beatles

The Beatles are the most important popular band ever—so important that they have two books in this series. Among their many influential achievements, they insisted on performing their own material, were as comfortable on the screen as onstage, established the LP as a work of art rather than a few singles with some added filler, made studio creation as valuable as live performance, and started their own (still successful) record company. These successes (and many more) had both direct and indirect effects on Prince (and everyone else in the music industry).

There’s debate about Prince’s early feelings about the Beatles. Wendy claims he hated them or at least what they seemed to stand for in his mind. Matt Fink, a big Beatles fan, never heard Prince disparage them. This minor controversy arose from the media reception for Around the World in a Day, which compared the LP to the 1967–1968 Beatles for its trippy cover, diverse musicality, and psychedelic feel. The fact that Prince’s LP, like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, was intended as a stand-alone release with no singles did nothing to discourage the comparisons. Prince bristled at the association and said the album wasn’t influenced by the Beatles and further questioned if they could “hang” in 1985.

It can be difficult to hear a direct Beatles musical influence on Prince. There are always “Beatlesesque” references to “When You Were Mine,” but I hear more of the Beatles’ love of Motown in the song. Mitch Ryder gave a Detroit spin to the song in 1983, but the tune was tailor-made for late-period Supremes. Alternately, it’s hard not to hear the Beatles directly in “Raspberry Beret” or especially “Take Me with U,” and I’d love to have heard John and Yoko record the latter.

Prince’s earliest live work with a Beatles song was the 2004 solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He started playing a handful of Fab Four tunes in 2006. “Come Together” was played most often through 2011, typically as a medley with “7.” In 1989, Prince recorded a dance version of “Day Tripper” with Margie Cox on lead vocals for the unreleased Flash album. The same session included a cover of Hendrix’s “Fire,” which leads one to believe that Prince was listening to the 1988 Hendrix release Radio One, which included both songs.

Powered by ProGo Productions