The long weekend saw countless Prince fans sharing their memories of the iconic singer, who sadly passed away on Friday, leaving behind an imperishable musical legacy that has touched countless other musicians and artists across the genre spectrum.
But a lucky few were able to share memories of two exclusive performances Prince gave to small crowds huddled inside Melbourne’s Bennetts Lane jazz club, which all began when the legendary singer asked venue staff directly if he could please have a gig.
“He came in the night before and asked for a gig,” Bennetts Lane manager Meg Evans recounted for Fairfax. “The person who was here at the time called the boss upstairs and he came down. He was really personable and he said, ‘Can I have a gig here tomorrow night?'”
The performance, to which owner Michael Tortoni immediately said yes, was a warm-up show for the icon’s concert at Rod Laver Arena the following night and a subsequent performance in 2012 was a celebration of another Rod Laver appearance. Both have attained legendary status among fans.
“We had the [Alan Browne Trio] performing, he was going to be on Monday night, and so he performed after Alan Browne’s concert,” Evans said of the 2003 spot. “He came with his whole band and they came through the LaTrobe Street entrance.”
“We had so many people in the lane and then the lane behind but luckily … we had a clear side to the stage from Latrobe Street for his entourage and stuff. He also had his partner out here at the time.”
“He seemed so at home here. He just came in and complimented us on the club and he chose to play the small room – the vibe was definitely in the small room. It was absolutely electric.”
“Everyone was holding their breath when he played the first night but at the second one he just came up to the bar and asked very modestly, ‘Can I have a drink please?’. He was very personable. We think of the icon but he was a very personable man.”
“I wouldn’t use the Australian word ‘bloke’. He was a gentleman. He was confident but without airs.” Meanwhile, the 2012 performance took place in the wee hours following an amped-up performance at Rod Laver Arena.
“He performed in the big room that night,” Evans recalled. “We’d had some recitals on and they were in the small room. It was really modest, the people that were there stayed and a few extra people came.”