Apparently Prince was no big fan of cover songs, finding them to be unoriginal. He came out against the idea of cover songs way back when on the George Lopez show, though it’s been pointed out by music fans that Prince himself has covered plenty of songs over the years.
According to Loudwire, there is one exception His Purpleness made when it came to covers of his own songs.
“I don’t mind fans singing the songs…” said Prince. “My problem is when the industry ‘covers’ the music. See, covering the music means that your version doesn’t exist anymore. A lot of times, people think that I’m doing Sinead O’Connor’s song and Chaka Khan’s song when in fact I wrote those songs. And it’s okay when my friends ask to do them, but there’s this thing called the compulsory license law, which allows artists, through the record companies, to take your music, at will, without your permission. And that doesn’t exist in any other artform, be it books, movies — there’s only one version of ‘Law and Order’ (crowd laughs). There are several versions of ‘Kiss’ and ‘Purple Rain.’
In 2003 the Dave Grohl-led band covered “Darling Nikki,” a dirty song about a slightly-naughty nympho met in a hotel lobby. The band put a grungy spin on the track and while it was never released as a single, is certainly a fan favorite and one of the band’s more well-known tracks (besides their dozen-plus modern rock radio hits).
The cover song was released as a B-side in Australia along with “Have It All,” but when they asked to release it stateside were rejected by Prince himself. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he indicated that he didn’t like the cover. When the band asked to release the song in the US, he denied their request.
While he gave a cursory answer in that interview, rejecting the merits of the cover, it turns out that Prince was actually okay with the Foos covering that track. As his ex-assistant Ruth Violette Arzate relayed via a memoir article published on Medium, don’t believe everything you read. Perhaps Prince could have coined “fake news” a decade and a half before it became a catchphrase.
‘Firstly, don’t believe everything you read,” she says Prince told her. “That statement was taken out of context. 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 returned the love during his Super Bowl halftime show, covering the Foo Fighters hit “Best of You.” The late Taylor Hawkins mentioned that the band was perplexed by the inclusion, unsure if it was a subtle “fuck you” for covering “Darling Nikki” or a sincere homage to their song.
One last note, when the band covered “Darling Nikki” live for the MTV Video Music Awards, Prince gave them permission to do the cover. After the show, he commented about how much he liked the performance.
Photo Credit: Boston Lynn Schulz