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Prince and the Rolling Stones were two of the most influential acts of the 20th century. The former famously opened for the latter back in 1981. Many fans of the two artists who weren’t there or weren’t alive at the time wish they could have seen this concert. However, things didn’t go smoothly for the “Purple Rain” singer. The Stones audience wasn’t very receptive to him at the time. In fact, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards developed a very negative view of Prince following the incident.

Prince with a purple guitar
Prince | Theo Wargo/WireImage

1 of the most notorious occurrences in the Rolling Stones’ history

Ultimate Classic Rock reports Prince had only one hit when he opened for the Stones. The hit was a funk song called “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” “I Wanna Be Your Lover” was far removed from the music the Rolling Stones made.

Sometimes fans like to be exposed to new types of music. However, the Stones fans at the concert were not receptive to Prince at all. His bassist, Brown Mark, recalled people in the stadium started throwing food at him. Someone started throwing bottles and food at Prince as well.

In addition, the crowd started hurling racial and homophobic slurs at Prince. The latter were perhaps motivated by Prince’s androgynous style of dress. Mick Jagger later discussed the incident.

“I Wanna Be Your Lover” by Prince

The fallout from the incident

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Jagger said “I talked to Prince on the phone once after he got two cans thrown at him in L.A. He said he didn’t want to do any more shows…I told him, if you get to be a really big headliner, you have to be prepared for people to throw bottles at you in the night. [Laughs] Prepared to Die!” 

Rolling Stone reports Prince initially didn’t want to be the Stones’ opener anymore. However, he played for the Stones’ audience a second time. Again, he was abused by the crowd.

What Keith Richards thought of Prince

This incident became infamous. One might think Richards would want to comfort Prince over it. However, Richards had some critical words for the Purple One.

Keith Richards wearing a cheetah print jacket
Keith Richards | Graham Wiltshire/Redferns

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According to NME, Richards called him “overrated,” adding, “Prince has to find out what it means to be a prince. That’s the trouble with conferring a title on yourself before you’ve proved it. His attitude when he opened for us… was insulting to our audience. You don’t try to knock off the headline like that when you’re playing a Stones crowd. [He] thinks he’s a king already.”

However, the relationship between Prince and the Stones wasn’t entirely negative. Far Out reports the Purple One performed alongside the Stones in 1993. Together, they performed the Stones’ classic single “Honky Tonk Woman.” Fans were ecstatic to see the collaboration.

In addition, Richards’ tone regarding Prince softened when the R&B icon passed away. According to Entertainment Weekly, he wrote, “A unique talent. A true original. So sad, so sudden and, I will add, a great guitar player. We are all going to miss him.”