Los Angeles Concerts

Exclusive Interview: Sheila E. Reveals the Secrets of Prince's "21 Nite Stand" at the Forum in LA--Afterparties, Rehearsals and What It's Really Like to Work with the Purple Genius

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Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM

click to enlarge The glamorous life - GUSTAVO TURNER
  • Gustavo Turner
  • The glamorous life

As much as Prince blew us away the opening night of his 21 Nite Stand at Inglewood's Forum, Sheila E. left us scraping our jaws off the floor. People were visibly excited when stagehands set up her drum set, but when she strutted onstage, they went wild. She's, as we said, the Helen Mirren of pop.

They'll be performing tonight, Friday, April 29 and tomorrow Saturday, April 30 (yes, there are still tickets and you should get some; trust us, you'll regret not seeing one of these shows--read our account of the truly magical opening night).

And it is Prince's gig, but Sheila E. deserves the spotlight, too.

So we gave her a call:

LA WEEKLY: We were there opening night. It was so amazing. Did you all feel that way? Did you think you were just warming up, or did you feel like it was a special show?

SHEILA E.: For me, it's always special. It's always wonderful. To play Los Angeles--I don't think we've played since Musicology. That was the last time I played with him here that I can think of. It was special, but every show is so different. Last week Saturday--Thursday and Saturday--were just incredible. Beyond words. Like it was opening night. Again, every show is different, but like I said, last Saturday was a-MAZ-ing.

How much do you plan the show in advance?

Well, first of all, I don't really rehearse with him. He just calls me when he wants me to come and play. Like today, I'm not--I don't think that I'm playing. So I'm just here at the office, working. [Ed.'s note: "at Prince's office, working" must be the weirdest (or coolest) office job ever!] When he wants me to play, he'll send a message, and then I get there, go into hair and makeup. Maybe an hour before the show he'll give me a list, and I'll figure out where I come in and out of the show. But the rest of the band have been rehearsing every day.

So you actually don't know in the afternoon if you're gonna be playing.

No. (laughs)

Does that ever cause you anxiety?

Nahhh. He and I have been like this for a long time. Sometimes I'll even get there and he'll change his mind, and say, "Maybe we should wait until tomorrow, and you take a rest."

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