Prince's Original Guitarist Remembers Legend

Posted at 9:58 PM, Apr 21, 2016

A few lines in a Minnesota newspaper advertisement changed Dez Dickerson's life forever.

It read: "Warner Brothers recording artist seeks guitarist and keyboardist."  

That recording artist was 17-year-old Prince. Dickerson, a struggling guitarist, performed a 15 minute audition on the way out of town.

Those 15 minutes led to a life-changing relationship.

"Prince took me out in the parking lot," Dickerson remembered. "We talked after the 15 minutes of playing, and that was it."

For the next five years, the two played side-by-side. They toured the world together, and wrote some of the biggest hits. 

While Prince was known for being a meticulous, musical genius, two hits the pair wrote together took less than two hours to create.

"I was [in his studio]  for maybe an hour and a half recorded my co-lead vocal [Judgment Day] on 1999 and the guitar solo on Little Red Corvette."

Mystery will always define the music legend whose songs created a soundtrack for a generation. But Dickerson, remembers a different, more light-hearted Prince.

After the 1999 World Tour wrapped (ironically in 1983), Prince wanted to have a food fight. One that would end up costing $20,000.

"I remember seeing the glee on his face -- that sort of Dennis the Menace like glee -- running around throwing water balloons filled with syrup on people," he said. 

Shortly after that food fight, Dickerson left the band, wanting to focus on new projects. Years went by until the two talked again when Prince performed in Nashville in 2004.

Then another 12 years went by, until a phone conversation just three weeks ago.

"There was no indication to me that there were any health problems at all," said Dickerson.

The 30-minute conversation would turn out to be the last Dickerson would have with Prince. He vows never to reveal what was discussed. The significance of that conversation does not appear to be lost on Dickerson.

"That was very, very much ironic now that we hadn't spoken since 2004, and we just spoke again just a few weeks ago," he said.

As rumor and mystery begin defining Prince's death, Dickerson struggles to say what is lost now that the artist is gone.

"Sometimes you don't recognize the value of something until that thing is gone," he said. "In this case, it's not a thing, it's a person, but I think it something that will unfold over time."

Prince was 57.