Artists often see it as a compliment when someone else covers their music, but that was not the case with Prince, who seemed to believe covers weren’t original. However, according to the artist’s former assistant, he made an exception for Foo Fighters, who reprized their 1984 title “Darling Nikki.” in 2003.
In 2011, the singer and multi-instrumentalist openly expressed his disdain for covers in an interview with George Lopez.
“I don’t mind the fans singing the songs. My problem is when the industry covers the music. Covering the music means your version doesn’t exist anymore. A lot of times people think I’m doing the song from Sinead O’Connor [“Nothing Compares 2 U”] and Chaka Khan’s song [“I Feel for You”] when in fact I wrote these songs.”
Foo Fighters recorded a version of “Darling Nikki” in 2003 and included it as a B-side on their single “Have It All”, which was an Australian release. The band asked Prince for permission to release the song in the United States, and he turned it down. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly the following year, the singer said he didn’t like their version of the song.
” Nope ! I don’t like anyone covering my work. Write your own songs! he pointed out.
But apparently that wasn’t really the case. Prince’s former assistant, Ruth Violette Arzate, recently wrote a lengthy Medium post reminiscing about conversations they had together about their favorite rock bands, and the Foo Fighters were brought into the discussion. Arzate asked what Prince thought of their rendition of “Darling Nikki,” and she was surprised by his response.
“I thought they were great,” he told her. She, in turn, mentioned the Entertainment Weekly article from 2004.
“First of all, don’t believe everything you read. This statement has been taken out of context,” Prince assured her. “Second, this band embodied the song as it was meant to be played. They’re so good they could make an entire album of my rock songs.”
Then, in 2007, Prince incorporated the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” into his Super Bowl Halftime Show performance. The group apparently felt he was snubbing them.
“Man, I don’t know why he did this, but I’d like to know,” Taylor Hawkins told MTV. “I mean, the thought crossed my mind that maybe he was doing it as a kind of ‘Fk you’ for us, or maybe he really likes the song. Anyway Either way, it was pretty amazing to have a guy like Prince cover one of our songs – and actually do it better than us.”
When the Foos asked Prince for permission to perform their version of “Darling Nikki” at the MTV Video Music Awards later that year, Prince granted the request. Arzate added that he actually praised their performance afterwards.
“I like the way Dave [Grohl] retains the integrity of the song in its performance,” he said.
Prince 2011 Interview with George Lopez
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