Prince as the opening act for Rick James’ Fire It Up Tour, 1980.
Rick recounts the first time he saw Prince In his autobiography The Confessions of Rick James: Memoirs of a Super Freak : “The first time I saw Prince and his band I felt sorry for him. Here’s this little dude wearing hi-heels, playing this New Wave Rock & Roll, not moving or anything on stage, just standing there wearing this trench coat. Then at the end of his set he’d take off his trench coat and he’d be wearing little girl’s bloomers. I just died. The guys in the audience just booed the poor thing to death.”
Other accounts suggest Prince made a point in upstaging James. Either way, tensions were running high throughout the tour. Backstage shenanigans of stealing instruments, physical confrontation and general intolerance were served cold by each artist. Long after parting ways, Prince and James never resolved their resentment and remained touchy when comparisons were drawn between them.
However when Rick James died in 2004 Prince did show his respect by playing an acoustic piano medley of Rick James songs during his show.