Wednesday, December 22, 2010

“Gotta Tell the Truth Y'all” - Interview with Gayle Chapman

I successfully secured my first interview for my book last Thursday! I spoke via telephone to Gayle Chapman, the original keyboard player for Prince’s band which would later become The Revolution. Originally from Duluth, Minnesota, Chapman moved to Minneapolis and played with Prince for two years.

I knew that Chapman would be a significant person to interview because there is an age-old story that she quit the band for religious reasons. According to numerous sources, Chapman, a Christian, grew uncomfortable with Prince’s lewd musical content. Chapman said that this story is false.

“All these books that are written are based on conjecture, other people’s opinions,” Chapman said. “Nobody bothered to ask me.”

There is also a popular story that Chapman disliked kissing Prince during the band’s performance of the racy song, “Head.” Chapman similarly denied this tale.

“It was work. I had no problem doing the work.”

Chapman shared the real reason for her departure and responded to my questions about Prince’s religion or spirituality during her time with him. We also had a fascinating conversation about spiritual light and spiritual darkness—concepts that I will definitely explore even more in my book as a result of our discussion.

Additionally, I asked Chapman if she was surprised that Prince converted to the Jehovah’s Witness faith.

“No,” she said, and offered an intriguing explanation.

One of the major highlights of the interview was Chapman’s description of the event that led her to Prince.

“The strangest thing happened that moved me forward in working for him,” she said. “It was a spiritual experience.”

Honestly, I can’t say that I am surprised at this occurrence. Based on my research, I have found that Prince’s life and career are filled with spiritual events, visions and transformations. Prince worked with many people who were Christians or who later became Christians. There are interesting patterns in Prince’s journey, whether you call it God’s will, fate or a series of coincidences. Chapman dismissed the latter possibility.

“I don’t believe in coincidences at all,” she said. “I would like to think that God’s influence in somebody’s life is so powerful, it will affect them for generations.”

“I think the real truth is that’s how powerful spiritual light is,” she continued. “God knows what He’s doing.”

With regard to my interview with her, she said, “I believe that my conversation will affect you for a long time.”

I think she may be right. I really enjoyed speaking to her, and she gave me a lot to think about even outside of my Prince-related research.

I will discuss the interview in more detail in my book.

Now that I’ve talked to Chapman, I hope that band members Dez Dickerson and Matt Fink will speak with me about their time with Prince.

I’ll keep you posted!

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  1. What was her intriguing explanation for her not being surprised in Prince's religious conversion? Was it her own spiritual interpretation of life, or did she offer some insight as to Prince's spirituality that she observed? I realize that her time spent with him was at a very early stage in his progression as both an artist and individual, but what words did she use to describe his intellect at that juncture?

  2. When the book comes out, I'll be one of the first people in line to get it. I bought Dez's book about a year ago and this lil interview has inspired me to start diggin' thru my stash and start reading again.

    God's speed on the book :0)

    iPFL (Prince Enthusiast since 1996)

    NPG Member 4 Life !!!

  3. Hi 2tha9s,

    I'd say the explanation that she provided is based on both her opinions about Prince and her own spiritual interpretation of life.

    I really want to share all of the details, but I think it would be best to see it in the context of the entire book. I have a substantial amount written based on secondary sources, and now I'm trying to talk to people one-on-one to further develop the book. I will try to give as many updates and sneak peeks as possible, though!

    Thanks for reading!


  4. Qaid,

    Thanks so much!!! I really appreciate it!!!