David Henry Hwang is a playwright who has been producing plays,
musicals and operas for three decades.
He won the Tony Award for his play M. BUTTERFLY
and also writes for movies and television.
"Growing up, I listened to lots of music, but the two artists who meant most to me were
David Bowie and Prince
. I discovered Prince through his 1980 album DIRTY MIND..... back in 1980, .there was black music, and there was white music.
I listened mostly to black artists cuz I imagined
most of the white guys would just as soon beat me up as pick up their guitars."
Dirty Mind album poster / Warner Bros.
What WAS this?
Kinda R&B, kinda New Wave.
Kinda disco, kinda … punk?
How was this guy managing to pull it off?
The sound wasn’t black, wasn’t white, it was BOTH.
It was totally new.
And brilliant. So danceable.
And … really nasty. I loved, loved, loved it.
From then on, I bought every Prince album the day of its release,...
Prince at Madame Butterfly on Broadway in New York..Sept 21, 1988
...imagine my groupie heart ..
when I opened PEOPLE Magazine to find a picture of Prince,
coming out of M. BUTTERFLY,
my Broadway show!
Prince goes to Broadway?
He saw my play!
Did he like it?
How come no one told me?
Four years later, in 1993,
I began hearing through my agents that Prince was interested in meeting with me.
I meet Prince in the penthouse of the Riga Royal Hotel on West 54th St
The door opens, and — there he stands
But, I mean, really Prince.
Like, with the high heels, and the make-up and the purple jacket
"Prince turns out to be remarkably down to earth. For him.
We sit and drink, .....he tells me this story based on his own experience. .
About his relationship with a fan.
Which became obsessive and weird — in a sexual way (of course).
He wants to do a show about it.
I am so on the case.
I can go home.
Do a draft of the script.
Send it back to him.
We can bat it around.
I don’t talk about money, or contracts —
I figure, I am doing this on spec
After all, I am friggin’ Working With Prince!"
One more thing.
He’d like me to write a poem for him.
The way you feel when you’ve lost someone you love.
And you know they’re never coming back.
And that, for the rest of your life, you’re going to be alone.
He wants to do a song that suddenly breaks into a spoken word interlude.
He rolls his eyes,
“They’re gonna say, ‘The boy’s really lost it this time.’”
The whole meeting lasts maybe half an hour. Then I’m back on West 54th St. Having met my idol. The greatest pop star of the decade.
And we’re Working Together!"
"I write a poem about Love and Loss.
Fax it to Paisley Park.
A few days later, I get another cassette.
A new song. Incorporating my poem..
It’s called “Solo.”
Hey, I’ve written a song.
Just like that".
"The musical doesn’t end up working out,
and Prince and I have never had reason to speak again.
But a year later, I got a call from the woman at Paisley Park.
“Just wanted to let you know that the album COME is coming out.
It will include ‘Solo.’
I checked the writing credit on the CD case:
“Prince with David Henry Hwang.”
No contracts between us,
nothing on paper.......
And if that weren’t orgasmic enough,
Paisley Park even sent me a Gold Album.
The greatest piece of fan memorabilia a life-long groupie could ever desire.
“We never had a contract, .
but the credit was ‘Prince with David Henry Hwang,’”.
“He remembered I worked on that,
and he honored it.
Obviously, I was amazed.”