Twenty years before Justin Timberlake took the stage to perform at the Super Bowl LII halftime show, Prince had sat down with Serge Simonart of Guitar World Magazine to catch up on his current work and his musical legacy. At one point Simonart asked him, “With digital editing, it is now possible to create a situation where you could jam with any artist from the past. Would you ever consider doing something like that?”
Prince answered, “Certainly not. That's the most demonic thing imaginable. Everything is as it is, and it should be. If I was meant to jam with Duke Ellington, we would have lived in the same age. That whole virtual reality thing... it really is demonic. And I am not a demon. Also, what they did with that Beatles song ["Free As a Bird"], manipulating John Lennon's voice to have him singing from across the grave... that'll never happen to me. To prevent that kind of thing from happening is another reason why I want artistic control.”
Of course, this stirred controversy when Timberlake paid tribute to the late artist by performing his hit "I Would Die 4 U" with a large projection of Prince behind him. Needless to say that Prince's hometown crowd of Minnesota, and the Internet for that matter, was not thrilled about Timberlake's use of Prince's material and image during the show, which has sparked controversy in the days following the Super Bowl.
In the Guitar World interview, Prince went on to say: “Suppose you're a young musician and you want to make a record because you have something to say musically,” Prince said. “Well, the record company usually makes you sign away the rights to your songs. In other words, you become a slave to them in the sense that they own the rights to the master recordings of your music for all time, and you're merely an employee. So if you don't own your master, your master owns you. And what we've been trying to do with the NPG label, what it stands for, is trying to create more freedom, including financial freedom, so that artists control their own genesis and can reach a much brighter revelation.”
This certainly opens up the debate of using artist's likenesses in hologram form for future performances, as the trend seems to be only growing in popularity.
Read the full Guitar World Prince interview: HERE