Despite the fact that he was unceremoniously fired by him, singer Alexander O’Neal bears no grudge against Prince. In fact, he says that the great man’s vault contains recordings that he sang on, and holds out hope that these might one day see the light of day.
Speaking to MusicRadar, O’Neal said: “I know that people are going through all those old tapes, so maybe we’ll get to hear some of that stuff. What a shame he ain’t here with us.”
O’Neal met Prince in the early ‘80s, when he was part of Jam & Lewis’s band Flyte Tyme. Prince quickly became involved, and the band morphed into the group that would become known as The Time. However, O’Neal was replaced as lead singer by Morris Day, one of Prince’s childhood friends, and Jam & Lewis were subsequently axed, too.
“There’s a lot of controversy here,” O’Neal told MusicRadar. “I got fired by Prince, Jimmy and Terry got fired by Prince. But I couldn’t hold no grudges because Prince was the one who kickstarted everything for us. He’d already had a couple of hits and he said, ‘Look, it ain’t just New York and LA and Chicago. We can do it here, too. We can put Minneapolis and the Twin Cities on the map’. He motivated us all.”
O’Neal was also in awe of Prince’s skills in the studio, saying: “He was from another planet. Whatever you can imagine musically and whatever you can imagine creatively, he could do it. No one was surprised when he turned into the Prince that we all got to know a couple of years later. Absolutely stellar… he was like nothing I’d seen before. He could do it all. Song after song after song. Some that I had the privilege of recording with him.”
Whether we’ll ever get to hear these songs remains to be seen, but with the reissues and releases of previously unheard material coming thick and fast since Prince’s death, it’s certainly a possibility.