Prince’s Former Assistant Reveals What Singer Really Thought of Foo Fighters Cover
Artists often see it as a compliment when someone else covers their music, but this wasn't the case with Prince, who seemed to believe cover songs were unoriginal. However, according to the artist's former assistant, he made an exception for Foo Fighters, who covered his 1984 track "Darling Nikki." in 2003.
Back in 2011, the singer and multi-instrumentalist openly expressed his disdain for cover songs in an interview with George Lopez.
"I don't mind fans singing the songs. My problem is when the industry covers the music. Covering the music means that your version doesn't exist anymore. A lot of times, people think I'm doing Sinead O'Connor's song ["Nothing Compares 2 U"] and Chaka Khan's song ["I Feel for You"] when in fact, I wrote those songs."
Foo Fighters recorded a version of "Darling Nikki" in 2003 and included it as a B-side on their single "Have It All," which was an Australian release. The band asked Prince for permission to release the song in the U.S., and he denied them. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly the following year, the singer said he didn't like their version of the song.
"No! I don't like anyone covering my work. Write your own tunes!" he remarked.
But apparently, this wasn't actually the case. Prince's former assistant, Ruth Violette Arzate, recently wrote a lengthy piece on Medium recalling conversations they had together about their favorite rock bands, and Foo Fighters were brought into the discussion. Arzate asked what Prince thought of their rendition of "Darling Nikki," and she was surprised by his response.
"I thought they were great," he told her. She, in turn, mentioned the Entertainment Weekly article from 2004.
"Firstly, don’t believe everything you read. That statement was taken out of context," Prince assured her. "Secondly, that band embodied the song in the way it was meant to be played. They are so good they could do a whole album of my rock songs.”
Then, in 2007, Prince incorporated Foo Fighters' "Best of You" into his performance at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. The band seemingly felt he was snubbing them.
"Dude, I have no idea why he did it, but I'd love to find out," Taylor Hawkins told MTV. "I mean, the thought went through my head that maybe he was doing it as a sort of 'F–k you' to us, or maybe he really likes the song. Either way, it was pretty amazing to have a guy like Prince covering one of our songs — and actually doing it better than we did."
When the Foos asked Prince's permission to play their version of "Darling Nikki" at the MTV Video Music Awards later that year, Prince granted the request. Arzate added that he actually praised their performance afterward.
"I do like the way Dave [Grohl] keeps the integrity of the song in his performance," he said.