Prince’s Last Bassist… MonoNeon…
I remember Prince saying to me, “I saw you before I heard you.”
I first got to Paisley Park early 2015 – got an email asking, “Are you available to come to Paisley to jam?” And of course I said YEP!! When I got there Judith Hill was there and we started jamming (Prince was there too but listening to us via phone… haha!), not knowing I was going to be her bass player for live shows opening for Prince in Detroit and etc. After many rehearsals and a few shows with Judith I went back home and wasn’t sure if I would ever get back to Paisley. But I got another one of those emails a few months later asking to come back… this time it was to work with Prince – this was late 2015.
I became his bassist for a new band he was forming with Kirk Johnson on drums, Adrian Crutchfield on saxophone and Donna Grantis on guitar. We played various shows at Paisley with Prince. During that time (late 2015/early 2016) I started recording with him. We recorded an album before he kicked off his Piano and a Microphone tour – it was me on bass, Prince on guitar/keyboards/producer, Kirk Johnson on drums and Adrian Crutchfield on sax/EWI. Prince said he was going to release the album and name it, “Black Is The New Black”. During the sessions Prince would bring in an idea, we would build on it, JAM… and record it! If I remember correctly, we recorded about 7 tunes – or maybe more. The only song that was put out from the project was “Ruff Enuff”, which was released January 2016 on TIDAL under the moniker “MONO NEON” (Prince asked to use my name only for the TIDAL release). I’m not sure if the album was finished, but hopefully the material will get heard in the near future.
The last few times I remember seeing Prince was at Paisley early 2016. I was there for a photo shoot with Kirk Johnson and Adrian Crutchfield. Kirk said, “Prince wants you to come to Studio A”. When I got back there, Prince was playing a track from the album that we recorded; it was just me and him in the control room. He handed me his guitar and asked me to play along with the track to see how it sounded. After I played I gave the guitar back to him – he smiled, and said I will see you in a minute. My final time with Prince was in February for a late night studio session – (listen here)
If I knew that was going to be the my last moments with him, I wish I would of said to him, “I love you. Thank you for embracing me and giving me a chance.”
Prince gave me so much love and freedom while I was with him. I didn’t have to change anything – he just let me play. I miss him dearly!
- MonoNeon last recording sessions with Prince at Paisley Park (clips from Princestagram) March 2016 on Vimeo
TIDAL article for “RUFF ENUFF”:
Soundcloud link to “RUFF ENUFF”: