In the early ’90s, two of the greatest guitarists ever came face-to-face at an awards show and shared a moment that made a lasting impression on one of their drummers. When Eddie Van Halen ran into Prince at the MTV Video Music Awards, the two music icons shared a short conversation that stuck with drummer Michael Bland.
In 1991, Prince and the band Van Halen were in the middle of their legendary careers. Each tore up the music charts throughout the 1980s with numerous famous albums and singles. Yet the 1990s would usher in a new direction for each iconic act. Prince would drop his name and simply become a symbol instead. Additionally, Van Halen would fire their second frontman when Sammy Hagar was unceremoniously kicked out of the band.
Their world’s collided though at the 1991 MTV VMAs, and Bland recently opened up about it. The former drummer for the “Purple Rain” singer joined “Podcast on Prince,” which is dedicated to all things Prince. During his talk, the hosts asked him if he preferred Van Halen with original lead singer David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar. That’s when he revealed the story of seeing Eddie speak with Prince.
“I met Sammy when we played the MTV Video Music Awards in ’91. Van Halen, they played ‘Poundcake,'” Bland answered before bringing up the two icons meeting. “And one of my favorite moments working with Prince was watching Eddie Van Halen and Prince have a conversation.”
“Prince and Eddie,” Bland confirmed to the excited podcast hosts. “It was only a couple of minutes. We’d finished our soundcheck and we’d hung around for theirs. Prince was kinda talking to Dick Clark or somebody, and Sammy and Eddie came walking around. And they both greeted Prince, and Sammy kept walking but Eddie stayed.”
What Did Eddie Van Halen and Prince Talk About?
When pressed further about watching Eddie Van Halen and Prince converse, Bland admitted he couldn’t hear their entire chat. Yet he did say that the two men were “laughing a lot” as they talked. It turns out, two of the greatest to ever pick up a guitar didn’t talk about music. Instead, they shared a laugh over their eclectic clothing.
“Prince had this kinda outfit; it’s an outfit he’s been photographed in. It’s like a white pinstriped one-piece that was kinda like a vest on the top,” Bland recalled. “Eddie said something and [Prince] started smiling. And he went to touch Prince’s lapel, like, ‘I like that; it’s real sharp. I used to wear something like this.’ It’s like that sorta thing – and Eddie did used to wear something like that.”
Bland went on to say that he wishes he could’ve heard more of their conversation. Their talk is one he “would really like to have been in on.” Following the story, Bland also answered the podcast host’s original question. He gave a diplomatic answer to who he preferred leading Van Halen. Bland said he preferred Roth as a frontman, but would pick Hagar as a singer.