AXS TV caught up with acclaimed GRAMMY Awards Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich on the eve of the network’s 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival broadcast, conducting an exclusive interview in which Ehrlich fondly remembers his working relationship with the late music icon Prince. Ehrlich offers four unique experiences, detailing the celebrated showman’s tremendous attention to detail, as well as his love for his fans, his singular style, and oft-overshadowed skills as a guitarist.
Ehrlich recalls Prince’s unmatched work ethic and commitment to his art, while preparing for a “Purple Rain” medley with Beyonce at the 2004 GRAMMY Awards.
“He was in L.A., and he said, ‘Can you come out to Center Staging at about 8:30, 9 tonight’… So, I go out there and I walk into the studio, and it’s a performance look… and all of a sudden I realize the band is there, they’re all in position, they’re quiet,” Ehrlich states. “And he greets us… and then he says, ‘Ok’, and he walked away, strapped on [his guitar], and then went through, note-by-note, that six, seven-minute piece that we did with them that opened the show. In one day, he had written the arrangement, worked with his band so that they knew it and could play it down, and did it….”
“He was always a great guitar player”
Ehrlich offers an amusing anecdote illustrating Prince’s propensity to do what he wanted when he wanted.
“It wasn’t really until 1984 that we had him on the GRAMMYS for the first time, and he did ‘Baby, I’m A Star,’ and it turned out to be really great,” Ehrlich recalls. “But, what we didn’t know was that when he finished his performance on the show, he walked offstage, walked through the house, walked out. Never saw him again. He was always interesting.”
Finally, Ehrlich puts the spotlight on one of the more underrated aspects of Prince’s musicianship—his guitar playing, saying, “He was always a great guitar player, but I think because his composing, his writing was so strong… and that dynamic performance… some of that guitar playing was lost on people, because there was so much else. After 2005, 2006… that was a dominant part of his persona.”
For the fourth consecutive year, AXS TV is official broadcast home of the 47th Annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Presented by Shell, airing 20 hours of footage covering both weekends which wraps April 29th through May 1st. Jazz Fest expert Amanda Shaw hosts AXS TV’s broadcasts, which start at 5 pm ET / 2 pm PT and end at 9 pm ET / 6 pm PT nightly.
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.