Apparently, Prince was not a big fan of covers, finding them unoriginal. He spoke out against the idea of covering songs long ago on the George Lopez show, although music fans have pointed out that Prince himself has covered many songs over the years.
According to Loudwire, there is an exception that His Purpleness has made regarding covers of their own songs.
“I don’t mind the fans singing the songs…” Prince said. “My problem is when the industry ‘covers up’ the music. You see, covering the music means your version no longer exists. A lot of times people think I’m doing the Sinead O’Connor song and the Chaka Khan song when I actually wrote those songs. And it’s okay when my friends ask to do them, but there’s this thing called the Compulsory Licensing Act, which allows artists, through record companies, to take your music, at will, without your permission. And it doesn’t exist in any other art form, be it books, movies – there’s only one version of “Law and Order” (crowd laughs). There are several versions of “Kiss” and “Purple Rain”.
In 2003, the Dave Grohl-led band covered “Darling Nikki,” a dirty song about a slightly naughty nympho they met in a hotel lobby. The band gave the track a grungy edge and although it was never released as a single, it’s definitely a fan favorite and one of the band’s best-known tracks (besides their more than one dozen modern rock radio hits).
The cover song was released as a B-side in Australia with “Have It All”, but when they asked to release it in the US, Prince himself turned it down. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he indicated that he didn’t like the cover. When the band asked to release the song in the United States, they declined their request.
While he gave a quick response in this interview, dismissing the merits of the cover, it turns out that Prince was actually okay with the Foos covering this track. As his ex-assistant Ruth Violette Arzate relayed via a memoir article posted on Medium, don’t believe everything you read. Maybe Prince could have invented “fake news” a decade and a half before it became a catchphrase.
“First of all, don’t believe everything you read,” she says, Prince told her. “This statement was taken out of context. 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 returned the love on his Super Bowl halftime show, covering the Foo Fighters hit “Best of You.” The late Taylor Hawkins mentioned that the band was perplexed by the inclusion, unsure if it was a subtle “fuck you” for covering “Darling Nikki” or a heartfelt tribute to their song.
One final note, when the band covered “Darling Nikki” live for the MTV Video Music Awards, Prince gave them permission to do the cover. After the show, he commented on how much he liked the performance.
Photo credit: Boston Lynn Schulz