Between James Gandolfini passing away and Paula Deen using the N-word, it’s been kind of a weird week around here, and not in a good way. So, in an attempt to send us into the weekend on a more positive note, I think we should change course a little and talk about the time Questlove, Roots mastermind and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon bandleader, went roller-skating with Prince. Yes, that is definitely what we are going to do. I mean, who doesn’t love a good Prince story, right?
Little background: Questlove has told this story before, but he wrote it up proper in his new memoir Mo’ Meta Blues and Slate ran the excerpt earlier in the week. It is my firm belief that everyone on Earth should read it. It begins thusly:
I got a text from Prince’s assistant. That’s how things go in the Prince universe: You get a pre‑message saying that a phone message is coming later. But this time, the message said something different. It said that there was going to be a roller‑skating party that night, for Valentine’s Day, and that I should bring some cool people.
Let’s stop right there. He got a text, on Valentine’s Day, from Prince’s assistant, inviting him to a roller-skating party, and telling him to bring “cool people.” This brings up two questions:
1) Questlove was able to find “cool people” because he was hanging out with people like Common, Chris Rock, and Eddie Murphy at the time (only Eddie went with him, saying “I need to see if Prince can roller‑skate. I’m a comedian, and honestly, what’s funnier than that?”), but put yourself in his shoes for a second. Say you got that text. Who in your life would you consider cool enough to satisfy Prince?
2) Best text message possible? I think so.
Anyway, so Questlove and Eddie Murphy go to the rink and wait for Prince, and then this happens:
When I got back, Prince had the briefcase out on the floor. He clicked the lock and opened it, and took out the strangest, most singular pair of roller skates I had ever seen. They were clear skates that lit up, and the wheels sent a multicolored spark trail into your path.
And here’s what he said about the skates on NPR in April:
It was the most surreal night of my life. It was me and my then-girlfriend and Eddie Murphy and his girlfriend. Prince had these special skates. The friction of the wheel left a Xanadu glow. It was like watching “Billie Jean” on skates — everywhere he stepped lit up.
Here’s why I bring this up: Prince roller-skating — and, in Questlove’s words, Prince can “skate like he can sing” — while wearing clear, light-up, Xanadu/”Billie Jean” roller skates is now officially the Holy Grail. We must find it. Video, GIF, whatever. I want to see it so bad it physically hurts me. Someone, anyone, please make this happen. I’m begging you. It sounds even better than the GIF of him in the bathtub, and that’s saying a lot.
Photo credit: Shutterstock/Debby Wong