JOURNEY guitarist Neal Schon is celebrating what would have been Prince's 61st birthday today by releasing a free download of his cover version of "Purple Rain". Schon's track is taken from his upcoming solo album, "Universe", due in the fall.
A few years ago, Schon and JOURNEY keyboardist Jonathan Cain told Billboard that Prince reached out to them in early 1984 to see if the new song he was working on was too similar to their hit ballad, "Faithfully".
"'I want to play something for you, and I want you to check it out,'" Cain recalled Prince saying. "The chord changes are close to 'Faithfully', and I don't want you to sue me." Cain said: "I thought it was an amazing tune, and I told him, 'Man, I'm just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you're that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it's gonna be a hit.' And it was 'Purple Rain'."
Added Schon: "Prince felt, I guess, it was obvious enough that he was worried we were going to sue him. I think he called our office asking about it and we all talked about it and everybody said, 'Nah, it's the highest form of flattery. Let it go.'"
According to Schon, he later learned that Prince had a deep appreciation for his playing style.
"There's a guy that Jonathan and I both know in Minneapolis who worked with Prince in the last few years," Schon said, "and he told Jon to tell me that Prince was talking about my guitar playing, how it really moved him and how he liked my playing. It was just so cool."
"How much he loved Neal Schon is crazy," Cain added. "He studied Neal for so many years, learned his licks and made them his own. You can hear it on ['Purple Rain'] for real."
Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose on April 21, 2016. He was 57 years old.