Stars Who Couldn't Stand Prince

It's pretty much an objective fact that Prince Rogers Nelson, or just Prince, as he was known throughout his storied career, was an unrivaled musical genius — but that doesn't mean people at or near his level of fame liked the guy. A brilliant singer, songwriter, dancer, guitarist, and producer, Prince churned out a shocking number of ageless, genre-defying classic songs — "Purple Rain," "Little Red Corvette," "1999," "When Doves Cry," "Let's Go Crazy," and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," to name a few. All that talent led to an inordinate level of fame, and Prince carried a mystique with him wherever he went. That vibe could, either purposely or inadvertently, come across as extreme rudeness, weirdness, or just plain aggression.

Part of the tragic real-life story of Prince is the voluminous number of feuds he started and exacerbated, and the enemies he made along the way. There were many celebrities that Prince couldn't stand, and quite a few who didn't like Prince in return. Here are all the luminaries of music, sports, fashion, and pop culture who didn't personally enjoy the company of one of the most heralded artists of all time, Prince.

Sinead O'Connor

Singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor became a superstar in 1991, when her breakup ballad "Nothing Compares 2 U" hit No. 1 on the U.S. pop chart. O'Connor's version was a cover — Prince wrote it in 1985 for The Family, a band that he'd signed to his vanity record label. A few months after the song's success, O'Connor accepted an invite to visit Prince at his home outside of Los Angeles. After silently staring her down in his kitchen for a few minutes, O'Connor recalled in her memoir "Rememberings" that Prince suddenly chastised her for using curse words in interviews. O'Connor's response: "'I don't work for you,' I tell him. 'If you don't like it, you can go f*** yourself.'" That irritated Prince, who disappeared elsewhere into the house and re-emerged later to bully a servant and start a pillow fight with O'Connor. 

That allowed Prince to assault the singer. "On the first thump I get, I realize he's got something in the pillow, stuffed down the end, designed to hurt. He ain't playing at all," O'Connor wrote. She then demanded to be driven home. "You've got to be crazy to be a musician," O'Connor said, "but there's a difference between being crazy and being a violent abuser of women," O'Connor later told The New York Times of Prince.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Rick James

Prince's first major live performing experience came as the opening act for Rick James on his early 1980 club tour. Selected as a hot, up-and-coming act to counter the slumping James, Prince proved to be a bigger draw, earning bigger responses from crowds than the headliner did. James and Prince quickly grew to resent one another. "They would pull plugs on each other, get ready to go to blows," musician Bootsy Collins said in "B****in: The Sound and Fury of Rick James" (via Rolling Stone). And according to R&B star Teena Marie, James swiped Prince's synthesizers and used the instruments and its programmed sequences on the 1981 album "Street Songs," then returned them with a thank-you note. Prince then lured away Denise Matthews, a romantic interest of James', for his girl group, Vanity 6.

James, who you wouldn't want to meet in real life, also went off on Prince to Rolling Stone. "I can't believe people are gullible enough to buy Prince's jive records," James said (via Pitchfork), calling his former opening act "a mentally disturbed young man. He's out to lunch. You can't take his music seriously." In 1983, James tore into Prince once more, this time focusing on his persona and racial identity. "He doesn't want to be Black. My job is to keep reality over this little science fiction creep," James said. "And if he doesn't like what I'm saying, he can kiss my a**."

Trent Reznor

As the founder and sole permanent member of Nine Inch Nails, industrial rock musician Trent Reznor is a lot like Prince; both could play a lot of different instruments and they executed a clear, singular vision of their work in the recording studio. Reznor was once a huge fan of Prince, but when they met in the early 1990s during the latter's era in which he was known as an unpronounceable symbol, the adulation instantly dissipated.

"I was in this studio and I heard Prince was coming in. There was a time when I thought he was awesome, but what a f***ing creep!" Reznor recalled to Select Magazine (via NIN-Pages) in 1994. In advance of the visit, Reznor received a rundown of stipulations for when interacting with the star. "You were never to say the word 'Prince,' you had to write down that symbol. You were never to look at him, or talk to him unless he approached you first," Reznor recalled. When Prince finally appeared, he did so in a pink suit and high-heeled shoes while sucking on a lollipop and reeking of perfume.

Prince wanted Reznor and his associates to remix a song for him, but when the time came for the two musicians to actually meet, it didn't happen. "He walks right past me. I couldn't believe it," Reznor said.

Keith Richards

The Rolling Stones booked Prince to be one of its opening acts during its 1981 U.S. tour to promote the album "Tattoo You." On the first concert of the tour, 94,000 people packed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to primarily see the Stones, and not so much Prince. Rock-loving fans didn't like Prince's funky R&B, and early in his set, they began throwing things at the singer and his band, including chicken, cans, and bottles. After they threw objects, they threw crude insults of a racial and anti-LGBT nature at the performer. Prince and his musicians ended their show after four songs and quit the tour, although Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger helped convince him to return for another show. Once more, fans were rude to Prince, and once more, he walked away from the tour.

In his 2010 memoir, "Life" (via The Week), Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards very briefly reflected on the time he spent near Prince and listening to his early-career music. He didn't like what he heard, either then or after. Richards, who also once said that hip-hop "don't grab him," rejected and derided Prince, calling him "an overrated m*****." However, between the time he published his book and the time of Prince's death in 2016, Richards had seemingly changed his mind. On X, formerly known as Twitter, the Rolling Stone said of Prince, "A unique talent. A true original."


Prince and Madonna mutually ruled the pop music scene in the mid-1980s, and in 1985, they briefly consolidated their professional powers with a personal relationship. The two dated that year and kept things cordial enough after the breakup to write and record "Love Song" for Madonna's 1989 album "Like a Prayer" together.

Any connection between the two icons apparently severed in the early 1990s, ascertained from a 1994 Madonna interview with the Los Angeles Times in which she compared herself to Prince and Michael Jackson. "I could never say that either of them were friends. I've spent a good deal of time with both of them," she said. "And they have these manners and they're just so careful about what they eat and what they say. I had dinner with Prince once, and he was just sipping tea, very daintily. I was stuffing food down my face and I was like, 'Aren't you going to eat?'" Prince did not eat. "I have this theory about people who don't eat. They annoy me. It's something about being in control."

The pair must have patched things up. In 2011, Madonna agreed to be a guest performer during a Prince show at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Boy George

Multiple pop stars in the 1980s pushed the envelope and moved the general culture forward by blurring traditional gender norms in their clothing choices and public presentation. Two of the most notable figures in this androgyny movement were Prince and Boy George, the latter being the lead singer of the U.K. New Wave band Culture Club. While to the public it may have seemed like the two stars shared a similar visual flair and fashion thesis, Boy George certainly didn't see it. He thought of himself as very fashionable, and Prince as grotesquely unattractive, not to mention too short and overly furry. According to the BBC, Boy George once quipped, "Prince looks like a [slur for a little person] who's been dipped in a bucket of pubic hair."

The nastiness could be tied to an off-putting, face-to-face meeting with Prince that Boy George had to endure. "I loved Prince. I met Prince, and he didn't speak for 15 minutes, and it was still the most iconic conversation I've ever had," Boy George said on "The Jonathan Ross Show" (via Far Out). "I met him in Paris, and he wanted to meet me, then when I sat down he didn't say a word, he just stared at me and I wanted the floor to swallow me. I walked away and I said, 'Well that was really interesting.'"

Carlos Boozer

An 18,000-square-foot estate in Los Angeles stands six stories high, a glass-and-steel architectural marvel built in 1953 with a roof garden, man-made beach, and a pool housing an underwater cave. Once the home of movie producer Ted Fields, NBA all-star Carlos Boozer bought the property in 2005. Because he was playing for the Utah Jazz at the time, Boozer couldn't live in the mansion full-time, and to earn back some of the money he dropped, he agreed to rent it at a rate of $95,000 per month to a tenant who asked to remain anonymous.

Sometime later, Boozer learned that the mysterious stranger living in his home was Prince, something he would have instantly assumed when he paid a visit to his house and discovered that the musician had extensively renovated the place and with zero permission to do so. Gold lion statuettes that flanked the entry gates were out, and Prince symbol ornaments were in. Among other changes: Prince replaced the carpets with purple ones, converted a bedroom into a private hair salon, and turned a weight room into a dance studio.

Boozer threatened to sue, but when Prince received the paperwork, he jumped into action to avoid the costly legal proceedings. He sent the basketball player $500,000 as a good faith payment, swearing he'd restore the rental home to its original state by the time he moved out. Prince did just that, and the lawsuit was dropped.

Mr. Blackwell

Richard Blackwell was first a fashion designer specializing in strange, edgy looks, but he gained a lot of attention and notoriety under the guise of Mr. Blackwell, a fashion critic who didn't much care for weird clothing worn by other famous people. Each year, from 1960 until shortly before his death in 2008, he'd annually release a heavily distributed and discussed "Worst Dressed" list, with which he'd colorfully eviscerate celebrities he found to be sartorially challenged. At the peak of his "Purple Rain" era fame in January 1985, Prince earned the public ire of Mr. Blackwell with a spot on the "Worst Dressed Women" of the year list. 

Yes, Prince was a man, but he favored such fashion-forward and nontraditional-gender-skewing outfits that Mr. Blackwell included him on the women's list as a snide joke; he came in tenth place in a tie with the drag-influenced heavy metal singer Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. At any rate, Mr. Blackwell savagely criticized Prince's fashion choices in the list, likening the diminutive star to "a toothpick wrapped in a purple doily" (via UPI).

Jah Wobble

Rising to prominence in the post-punk era, Jah Wobble was among the most in-demand British musicians from the late '70s until the mid-1990s. He brought his bass guitar and funk-and-reggae-influenced sound to side projects recorded by members of Can and U2, while also playing on influential and popular albums by Primal Scream and Public Image Limited, formed by Johnny Rotten after the Sex Pistols broke up.

Musical superstar Prince counted himself among Wobble's fans, but the feeling was decidedly not mutual. While they played a gig together in 1983, the two musicians met backstage at another Wobble show. Prince approached Wobble and told him that he really enjoyed his bass guitar stylings. In response, Wobble turned to his manager and spat out, "'Get this f***ing little s*** out of here now!'" musician and conversation witness Natacha Atlas told music journalist Percy Howard in 1999. "Wobble doesn't care, even though Prince was famous. He thought Prince was a pretentious a**hole."

Lil' Mo

R&B singer and hip-hop figure Lil' Mo broke out in the late '90s with the assistance of her mentor, Missy Elliott, and she's since collaborated with the likes of Jay-Z, Blackstreet, Keith Sweat, Next, and Ja Rule, who incidentally once owed the government a stunning amount of money. In advance of her first album in three years, Lil' Mo made the rounds at the 2014 Essence Music Festival, held at the Superdome in New Orleans. As a musician of some stature, Lil' Mo possessed a go-anywhere, VIP pass, but during the celebration, she was prevented from using a backstage bathroom. The singer was physically stopped from using the facilities by members of the New Orleans Police Department, who were acting on orders to hold back anyone and everyone because the festival's headliner, Prince, was moving through the area. "I had to PEE. This industry s*** is CRAZY," Lil' Mo quipped of the incident on Instagram (via The Source) before adding another post, a version of the "Kermit the Frog sips tea" meme, noting that during his set, Prince failed to reach some high notes.

Prince saw Lil' Mo's Instagram posts about him and replied in kind on Twitter. "I hope she know, none of her clothes match," he wrote (and then quickly deleted).

Michael Jackson

Prince's main rival in 1980s musical dominance was Michael Jackson, and their relationship was fueled by competitive bitterness. Prince enjoyed a commercial breakthrough in 1982, when his "1999" record sold more copies than any of his other albums to that point. A month later, Jackson unleashed "Thriller," eventually the best-selling album in history.

When Lionel Richie organized the 1985 session to record the charity single "We Are the World," he wanted all of the biggest stars to participate. Jackson co-wrote the song; Prince said he might show up but ultimately didn't, ostensibly because of Jackson's presence. Later that year, Prince won an Academy Award for the music from "Purple Rain," which left Jackson, who wanted to be a movie star, privately angry. Nevertheless, Jackson reached out to Prince to duet on the title single from his 1987 album "Bad." Prince refused, because he didn't like the supposed sexual undertones of the opening line, "Your butt is mine." 

When they'd run into each other in the late '80s, Prince derisively called Jackson "Camille," and once tried to get his limo driver to run him down. In 2006, Jackson went to a Prince concert in hopes of mending their feud. Prince saw Jackson sitting near the stage, went up to his seat and aggressively slapped his bass guitar inches from his head. "Why was Prince playing the bass in my face?" Jackson rhetorically asked his concert-mate, of the Black Eyed Peas (via The Telegraph). "Prince, he's always been a meanie."