The Truth About The Feud Between Michael Jackson And Prince

Prince and Michael Jackson: two slender heavenly bodies, trapped irrevocably in one another's gravitational pull, each seemingly doing his best to out-weird the other by an order of magnitude. Their rivalry was the stuff of Greek mythology, a feud akin to the events of The Prestige, but with tighter pants.

They had so much in common. They should have been friends. Each came from a musical background. Each eschewed the norm and gave traditional takes on masculinity a little tickle. Perhaps it was this, their shared claim on similar cultural territory, that ignited a burning back-and-forth between the two artists that would last until Jackson's death in June of 2009.

Rolling Stone reports that the friction began when 1999, Prince's first album to crack the Billboard Top 200, was "upstaged" by the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller a mere month after its debut. When Purple Rain came out in 1984, Jackson reportedly started attending Prince concerts on a regular basis in order to get a read on his bombastic contemporary.

Prince piled painful ping pong pain upon pop pal

For a hot minute, Prince and Jackson shared a studio space, which led to that most gruesome, blood-fueled, and time honored form of battle: the ping pong contest. Accounts vary — recording engineer David Z told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Prince threatened to "smash" the ball at Jackson, leading the latter to cover his face in fear. Others merely state that Jackson fumbled, unfamiliar with the sport. In any case, it's generally agreed that Prince shouted "Did you see that? He played like Helen Keller" while strutting victoriously. Clearly the rhinestone encrusted gloves had come off.

Sport gave way to professional discourtesy. In 1985, Prince refused an opportunity to duet with Jackson on "Bad." Two years after that, he turned down the chance to collaborate again for "We Are The World."

The final blow came in 2006, when Jackson attended a Prince concert with in an attempt to bridge the rift. Prince, spotting Jackson in the audience, descended from the stage and played slap bass right into Michael's face. Jackson, reasonably upset, later said to "Why was Prince playing the bass in my face? Prince, he's always been a meanie."

Fun's fun and all, but that sort of language is inexcusable.