Prince live in 1990, the story of the Nude tour

Prince - Nude Tour - Rotterdam (pinterest.com)

Prince – Nude Tour – Rotterdam

Introduction

On June 2nd, 1990, Prince launched his Nude Tour in Rotterdam. It turned into a disappointment for many. Even though the rain played a huge part in that, the general mood about Prince had already changed since the release of Batman.

Content

This article is divided into two parts. The first part contains the Nude Tour in numbers and data. The other part is dedicated to my experience then and now and the way the Nude Tour compares to earlier tours and reports in the (international) press.

Next to the regular video, that is linked to every article, this article has four more sub-articles:

Prince - Nude Tour - Paisley Park press release (facebook.com)

Prince – Nude Tour – Paisley Park press release

What came before

In 1988 Prince reached his undisputed commercial and artistic high when he released Lovesexy and followed it with the dizzying and kaleidoscopic Lovesexy Tour. Prince’s popularity was at an all-time high. Well, in Europe that is.

The US audience didn’t get Prince anymore. The Lovesexy Tour made some huge losses in the US (which would be corrected in 1989 when Prince brought the tour to Japan). Prince wouldn’t tour the US until 1993. He bypassed the US with his 1990 (Nude) and 1992 (Diamonds And Pearls) tours.

In 1989 Prince was offered the opportunity to tag along on the Batman craze. The Batman album, which was released in June 1989, reaffirmed Prince’s commercial status and brought in (a lot of ) money. Artistically the album was a bit of a letdown. The initial reviews were fairly positive, but in hindsight many thought Batman was a major disappointment. Prince was losing his magic, as far as Europe was concerned. During that phase, in early November 1989, it was announced that Prince would come to Europe in early May of 1990. The tour was scheduled to take place in many (outdoor) stadiums.

Nude Tour (princevault.com)

Nude Tour

The Nude Tour started on June 2nd, 1990, and ended on September 5th, 1990 in Yokohama, Japan. Prince played a total of 51 shows in Europe and 5 in Japan. Competition at the time was great, Madonna and The Rolling Stones were also on tour. It made for slow sales for all shows. In some markets shows didn’t sell out, particularly in Belgium and Italy. In other markets (Spain, Japan, England) tickets were scarce and sales numbers went through the roof.

During the tour some smaller venues were visited, resulting in indoor shows, like the Heerenveen concert, but also in London. At the London Wembley Arena, which houses about 12,000 people, Prince played no less than 16 (!) shows.

The name of the tour referenced the ‘nude’ theme, because of the minimal production and the focus on the music and entire songs. Contrary to the two previous tours, Sign O’ The Times and Lovesexy, the stage was very basic as well. The shows were shorter than Europe had grown accustomed to, an average show lasted about 1.5 hours.

Prince - Nude Tour - Rehearsals at Paisley Park Studios (fortune.com)

Prince – Nude Tour – Rehearsals at Paisley Park Studios

New band

The band was renewed as well. Atlanta Bliss, Eric Leeds, Sheila E., Cat Glover and Boni Boyer had gone. Levi Seacer Jr. (bass) and Miko Weaver (guitar) stayed, as did veteran Dr. Fink. The new band members were the fabulous drummer Michael Bland, at the time just 21 years old, keyboard player/singer Rosie Gaines and the dancers The Game Boyz. The latter addition would generate quite some critique for Prince, because Tony M. would evolve into a rapper, intensely disliked/despised by many, especially in a live setting. Many applauded the addition of Rosie Gaines, because of her voice and the space she was awarded by Prince. It wasn’t for me though. It wasn’t bad, but not deserving of all the praise.

After the tour Dr. Fink and Miko Weaver left the band. Weaver’s leaving wasn’t a big surprise, he and Prince regularly had arguments, dating back to rehearsals for the tour. Word is that Prince felt threatened by Weaver’s ‘good looks’.

Prince - Nude Tour - Merchandise (eil.com)

Prince – Nude Tour – Merchandise

Merchandise

The merchandise for Prince’s 1990 Nude Tour consisted of jewelry, t-shirts, shorts, posters, etc. and a ‘tour book’. I bought one for every tour I went to, so I got the Nude Tour one also. For the first time in his career Prince reflected on his career, in writing as well. The centerfold was particularly interesting. Even though it was common knowledge by then, it marked the first time Prince openly took credit for the songs he had written for others, or while using a pseudonym.

Maybe it was because of the big hit at the time, Sinead O’ Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U. The song originally stemmed from the album The Family, by the Prince satellite act with the same name. The general public was unaware of this and (therefore) was unaware that it was in fact a Prince song. It’s very likely that’s the reason Prince played it during the tour. I have read he had already scheduled the song for inclusion in the setlist before Sinead O’ Connor’s version was released, yet I don’t think it’s true.

Prince - Nude Tour Book (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Nude Tour Book

See the content of the Nude Tour Book here: Prince – Nude Tour Book.

Intro tape

As an introduction to the Nude Tour concerts a 2.5 minute tape was played, the so-called ‘DAT’ Intro, DAT probably referring to the Digital Audio Tape, a digital cassette system developed by Sony in 1987.

Following some dark tones, several samples from the Prince catalog were used: For You, Partyup, Controversy, 1999, Let’s Go Crazy, Around The World In A Day, Girls & Boys and the Shut Up Already, Damn! cry from Housequake.

Listen to the ‘DAT’ Intro here.

Prince - Nude Tour - Tokyo TV recordings (facebook.com)

Prince – Nude Tour – Tokyo TV recordings

Television and radio recordings

Some concerts were broadcast on (local) television and radio stations. The entire concerts in Madrid, La Coruña and Tokyo, as well as large chunks of the opening shows and the (first) Ireland show, were recorded and broadcast. The tour did provide for a lot of perfect image and sound material for the Prince fans.

Graffiti Bridge

Early 1990, Prince was still very busy with his next project, the album and movie Graffiti Bridge. It made Prince postpone many shows and moving the opening date further away in time. Even while out on tour, Prince would continue to spend enormous amounts of time on the project. The movie in particular needed a lot of extra work. In between shows and soundchecks Prince worked tirelessly on the movie in his various hotel rooms.

Prince - Nude Tour - Itinerary (ha.com/eil.com)

Prince – Nude Tour – Itinerary

All concerts

In conclusion, all concerts Prince played during the tour are listed below. Click the line below.

My personal Nude Tour, context and experience

Nice and all, the summation of facts, but what does it say about the experience or the music? Not too much, I think. So next up, my personal Nude Tour experience and the changing mood in Europe. It seemed that even Prince wasn’t untouchable after all.

Prince - Nude Tour - Netherlands ads in de Volkskrant, November 16th & 23rd, 1989 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Nude Tour – Netherlands ads in de Volkskrant, November 16th & 23rd, 1989

Ticket sale in The Netherlands

Prince was going to do a show at the Feijenoord Stadium, also known as De Kuip (The Tub). Ticket sales started on November 18th, 1989. The demand for tickets was so high a second show was announced that went on sale a week later. Prince was coming to The Netherlands again and me and many of my (girl) friends were excited! We had managed to secure tickets for both shows.

Prince - Nude Tour - Chick Huntsberry show (harpersbazaar.com/willitsnews.com/facebook.com)

Prince – Nude Tour – Chick Huntsberry show

Minneapolis

In the meantime Prince was busy in Minneapolis preparing his new project, a new album and a new movie, Graffiti Bridge. Recordings (particularly for the movie) moved slow and deadlines weren’t met. To make matters worse, the first results for a test audience came back and they were disastrous. The movie was slashed. In April 1990 Prince decided to postpone the tour to work on the movie.

On April 2nd Chick Huntsberry (Big Chick) passed away, Prince’s former bodyguard, whom Prince cared for very much. After working for Prince Huntsberry spiraled down into his cocaine addiction. After surviving that he became an evangelist. Huntsberry was only 49 years old when he died, leaving his family virtually penniless.

Prince - Charles Huntsberry Benefit Concert (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Charles Huntsberry Benefit Concert

Prince decided to organize a benefit show on April 30th, 1990 at Rupert’s Nightclub in Minneapolis. He raised $ 60,000 for Huntsberry’s family. And it was a great opportunity to test out the material for his upcoming tour. Both the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone published a (positive) review (See the reviews in the article Prince – Nude Tour – The reviews). It’s remarkable that both articles talk about another tour to commence later in 1990, that would be focused on his Graffiti Bridge project. By the way, the April 30th show was Prince’s first concert in the new decade.

On May 4th tickets went on sale for the official ‘preview’ of the Nude Tour, which would be staged at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul just two days later.

In the meantime the band rehearsed, but still lots of time was spent on the Graffiti Bridge movie.

Prince - Nude Tour preview OOR 10 05-19-1990 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Nude Tour preview OOR 10 05-19-1990

Meanwhile over in Europe/The Netherlands

People in Europe were largely unaware of everything that went down in Minneapolis. Leading up to the concerts, more and more articles were published about the new project that was coming up: a new album and a new movie, which was supposed to be a sequel to Purple Rain, and would be called Graffiti Bridge. Prince was busy (too busy?) working on the movie and concert after concert was canceled or postponed. Was the tour still on? Yes, fortunately, it was. Due to the rearranging of the schedule, the two Dutch shows were bombarded to being the tour openers for the new Prince tour, which the media titled the Naked tour.

In The Netherlands some previews were printed, like in the, at the time still relevant, Dutch music magazine Oor. In edition number 10 of 1990 (published on May 19th, 1990) an article entitled De Grote Schoonmaak (‘The Big Clean-Up’) was published. It detailed the firing of his management, the losses made on the Lovesexy project, the new no-nonsense policy in Minneapolis, and the choice Prince faced: was he going to continue the no-nonsense stance and lose his European audience and gaining back his American one or was he going for his art with the opposite consequences?

Prince - Nude Tour - Pre-Show - Volkskrant 05/30/1990 (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Nude Tour – Pre-Show – Volkskrant 05/30/1990

On May 30th, 1990, a private premiere concert was planned for the (international) press at the Ahoy in Rotterdam, but Prince cancelled it at the very last minute. It made the press grumpy, as they were deprived of their own private party, that even had its own laminated passes!

N.B.:
I don’t really know whether or not the passes were official. They were shown on tape on the day of the tour’s opening just two days later. Some were offered up for auction and sold for quite a lot of money, so there’s a big chance they are indeed official.

Prince 06/02/1990 concert ticket (apoplife.nl)

Prince 06/02/1990 concert ticket

June 2nd, 1990

Finally, the day had come. I was going to see Prince again. The last time I saw him was ridiculously good, but two years had passed since then. We were convinced we were up for another great show, while we were on our way to Rotterdam. The weather seemed a bit unpredictable. In the early morning and afternoon it seemed okay, but it turned ever more dark.

Prince - Nude Tour - Rotterdam Security t-shirt (facebook.com)

Rotterdam Security t-shirt

I don’t remember anything from the support act (maybe I didn’t see it at all), but after arriving we had a great spot near the stage. Following an intro played from tape (listen here) the drums started. And how! Banging kickdrum introducing The Future. Wow! Next up 1999, Housequake, Sexy Dancer, Kiss, etc. It seemed he wanted to get his hits out of the way so he could make time for something special.

It didn’t take long for things to turn bad. Rain, rain, rain, rain, the heavens had opened the floodgates. Within seconds the entire audience was soaking wet. All this time, the music was just great. I heard The Question Of U for the very first time that evening, which is a definite highlight in Prince’s body of work (position 32 in my Prince song top 50). Such a monumental song, with great guitar work.

What stood out was that all songs were played in their entirety, making the number of songs played relatively low when compared to the Lovesexy Tour. Also, many non Prince songs were quoted.

But, the weather upheaval didn’t stop at just rain, as lightning joined the game as well. Prince’s piano turned into a dangerous source for electrocution. The rain got so bad that Leon Ramakers, managing director of concert promoter Mojo Concerts, entered the stage after Baby I’m A Star announcing that the concert couldn’t go on. The public reacted disappointed and angry. Many felt they were sold short, even though the planned songs were all played. Legend has it that the show lasted about 45 minutes, but that’s not the case. It was relatively short, but it did last 80 minutes.

Prince 06/03/1990 concert ticket (apoplife.nl)

Prince 06/03/1990 concert ticket

June 3rd, 1990

This day, the rain played a big part as well. It wasn’t as bad as the day before and the show didn’t have to be cut short. The show lasted about 95 minutes, which was more up to Prince’s standards, even though it was still a bit short.

Looking back

And, what did I think? I was a bit mixed. The first day in particular I really had the time of my life. The rain enhanced the mood in the crowd and I was happy I saw Prince again. A number of goose bump moments, Prince’s arrival, The Future, Alphabet St. in an nice new arrangement, the fabulous The Question Of U, a phenomenal Controversy and a great finale. But still, something was missing. I remember clearly I had a feeling that the show wasn’t fully developed yet. Did Prince go on tour too quickly? Should he have taken some more time to prepare?

Prince - Nude Tour - TV reports (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Nude Tour – TV reports

Reviews

The reviews in the (international) press were mixed, but less negative than I remembered them to be. The rain and lightning were mentioned of course, but disappointment reigned, the show was rated slightly above average.

The main remarks in the reviews on the tour première are listed below.

For the past five years Prince visited The Netherlands four times. Every tour had its own character. Just like the star’s looks – this time he resembled a current version of Rasputin – his music changes constantly.
Algemeen Dagblad, 06/05/1990

As the show’s codename implied, the music was the base of the show. Within that natural ambiance Prince seemed less shy and provocative.
Alkmaarsche Courant, 06/05/1990

‘Simplicity’ is a relative term of course when it comes to Prince.
Gazet van Antwerpen, Belgium, 06/05/1990

Maybe Prince’s current worries are targeted there [Graffiti Bridge] and the premiere came a bit too soon.
Het Nieuwsblad, Belgium, 06/05/1990

Anyway, as mentioned before, his unpredictability and his unmistakable musical talent make Prince the most interesting and important of the current stadium stars.
Leeuwarder Courant, 06/05/1990

The question of you and Nothing compares to you were rare moments of peace and reflection during a sizzling show, that was built around familiar material.
NRC, 06/05/1990

A strange, yet pleasant atmosphere arises, and despite, or thanks to the rain the sound keeps on improving. James Brown enters the dizzying funk rhythms and Prince’s frolicking with the microphone stand, the dancers slide across the stage and the crowd dances itself into a frenzy.
Parool, 06/05/1990

Still, those arguments couldn’t conceal the fact that the magician from Minneapolis has lost control over his own spells. Sign of the times?
Trouw, 06/05/1990

The start of the show, The future and 1999, sounded like a statement: a first glimpse of everything Prince has to offer in this last decade of the century. Quite a promise.
Volkskrant, 06/05/1990

… this showdown was a somewhat clumsy gesture to the international press that had come in drones, who were already disappointed four days earlier with his cancellation of the secret media concert in Ahoy’.
Vrije Volk, 06/05/1990

The Prince-crazy Netherlands reacted greedily to the bearded Prince who was in rare form.
Telegraaf, 06/06/1990

The world’s greatest living song and dance man is heading this way. Prepare to have your doors blown off.
Melody Maker, England, 06/09/1990

The little man from Minneapolis (32) is still a great musical force.
Revu, 06/14/1990

With this modest means he regularly and effortlessly created goose bump results. He was lord and commander in the Feyenoord stadium. The audience adored him.
Hitkrant, 06/16/1990

‘Electric Man’ or not, the evening shows that the Nude-tour in this stage has one big flaw: it lacks a climax. Respect is a great encore, but it’s far from being a knock-out, that sends his audience homewards delirious with euphoria.
Oor 12, 06/16/1990

First timers may have been disappointed, long-time devotees may have been confused, but it would be churlish to judge Prince’s performance without making huge allowances for the atrocious behaviour of Mother Nature.
NME, England, 06/16/1990

The remark in the review of the Vrije Volk about the disappointment of the (international) press for annulling their own little party, really stands out. I suspect it did play a role in the reactions.

For the full reviews I refer to the sub-article Prince – Nude Tour – The reviews and for the filmed impressions I refer to the sub-article Prince – Nude Tour – Television reports.

Prince - Nude Tour - Heerenveen ad & Dortmund letter and poster (delpher.nl/apoplife.nl/rockrattlenroll.com)

Prince – Nude Tour – Heerenveen ad & Dortmund letter and poster

More

I wanted, no had to, go again. Conveniently, there were still some tickets left for the Dortmund show on August 6th, 1990 (originally planned for June 5th). On July 4th I received the confirmation of my order. Great, I was going to see him once more!

The very same day it was announced that Prince was coming back to The Netherlands. He was going to play at the Thialf ice skating rink in Heerenveen on August 5th. So, once again, two Prince shows in a row!

Prince 08/05/1990 concert ticket (apoplife.nl)

Prince 08/05/1990 concert ticket

August 5th, 1990

A hot summer’s day, en route to Heerenveen. It was going to be a memorable day. Once again, no memories of the support act, Dutch band Lois Lane. Before the show started some band members appeared from behind the curtain, including Dr. Fink.

From the start, it was obvious that this was going to be a special night. Indoor shows are preferable to outdoor shows, if for the lighting show alone, but sound wise as well. And Prince was in a great mood, the band was much tighter. For 100 minutes The Netherlands was treated to highlight after highlight, including the best and most emotional version of Purple Rain I have ever witnessed. A superb evening in Heerenveen!

Herman Brood - prince hij zou komen (artandgold.com)

Herman Brood – prince hij zou komen

Roxy – Amsterdam

Rumors were spreading that Prince would do an aftershow at the Roxy in Amsterdam. As it turned out those were more than mere rumors. However, Prince changed his mind, leaving the Roxy angry/disappointed, just like the crowd that was present. The events on this evening inspired Dutch artist Herman Brood in 1993 to create the painting seen above, titled prince – hij zou komen (‘prince – he was supposed to come’).

Prince 06/05/1990 -> 08/06/1990 concert ticket (apoplife.nl)

Prince 06/05/1990 -> 08/06/1990 concert ticket

August 6th, 1990

The next day off to Dortmund (again), where, almost two years earlier I witnessed the most special Prince show I ever saw. Once again no recollections of the support act (Lois Lane). Could he do it again? Absolutely! Prince was superb in the 105 minute show in which he played a great cover of Don’t Make Me Pay For Your Mistakes, incorporating pieces of Blues In C.. A nice and fabulous surprise!

Looking back

And, had my view changed? Most certainly it had. What a superb show it had become! It was obvious Prince wasn’t ready in June. The music was better, more relaxed and especially more spontaneous and free. Both August shows were phenomenal.

Prince - Nude Tour - Reviews (apoplife.nl)

Prince – Nude Tour – Reviews

Reviews

The August 5th shows were covered in Dutch newspapers as well. Not as elaborate as the last time. The general tone was fairly positive.

The main remarks form the reviews on the Heerenveen show are listed below.

If there was a concept at all, it was called: party, nothing more and nothing less. This time, it was all that was needed.
Leeuwarder Courant, 08/06/1990

Therefore, the wait is on for ‘Graffiti Bridge’ and the new tour that will undoubtedly follow. They will have to prove if Prince, the face of the ’80s, is facing creative deadlock.
Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, 08/06/1990

The audience, that was with him all the way, had a great time for an hour and 40 minutes.
Algemeen Dagblad, 08/07/1990

For the full reviews I refer to the sub-article Prince – Nude Tour – The reviews and for the filmed impressions I refer to the sub-article Prince – Nude Tour – Television reports.

Prince - Nude Tour - Bootlegs (discogs.com/apoplife.nl)

Prince – Nude Tour – Bootlegs

Bootleg recordings

As stated in this article, quite a large number of quality recordings of the Nude Tour exist. My first recordings were delivered on August 7th, 1990 (two days after the Heerenveen show). It contained cassette recordings of the second Nude Tour show. Fantastic sound, especially considering it was an audience recording. Two weeks later I bought the cd Hamburg June 9th 1990, containing recordings of that day. A nice bonus was the performance of Raspberry Beret. One month later I received cassette recordings of the phenomenal Heerenveen show.

On March 23rd, 1991, I was at a record fair and stumbled upon Prince In Japan. At the time it was a bit of a gamble buying bootlegs, because I couldn’t listen to them (sometime later I was given a portable cd-player), but I decided on taking the chance and paid ƒ 80,- for the cd. Once I got home I curiously put it on. The sound was perfect! A mind-blowing performance of Bambi was the second song, that guitar sound, that solo, wow! And it kept coming. The tour was almost at its end and the band and Prince were on fire. But nothing could have prepared me for When Doves Cry. The best performance of the song I had heard up till then (it never got better), the moment the bass enters the music is an indescribable sensation.

If there’s one thing you should take from this article, it is to go in search of the video’s of Bambi and When Doves Cry of the August 30th, 1990, show in Tokyo.

More bootlegs, including video/dvd’s, followed. All perfect recordings, providing a fine glimpse into the summer of 1990.

Prince - Nude Tour - Models (facebook.com)

Prince – Nude Tour – Models

Conclusion

The four Nude Tour shows I witnessed were great, the last two even perfect. The both June shows were a bit constrained, but Prince and band were unleashed by the time of the Heerenveen and Dortmund shows, which once again showed that Prince live was a rare spectacle. Even with minimal means he was able to capture his audience, surprise musically and provide moving moments.

Was it an artistic triumph? No, it wasn’t. But it made up for it just for the sheer fun and entertainment. The Nude Tour wasn’t just ‘nude’ because of the (lack of) musical embellishments and the focus on the music, particularly funk, it was also ‘nude’ as far as the message was concerned, no preachy one-liners, but an artist giving his audience what it wants, and still being able to plant some pearls in his shows, among which the marvelous The Question Of U. I would have loved to witness the Nude Tour once again.

In closing

Prince - Nude Tour - I Was There! (unknown)

The Nude Tour may not have been the most artistically satisfying project of Prince’s career, it really was highly entertaining. Besides, was Prince capable of staging bad tours? Perhaps more on that at a later time. For now, what are your ideas/opinions on this tour? Let me know in the comment form below!

Thank you
I would like to sincerely thank Bram and Edward for their proofreading.

Video/Spotify
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Prince live in 1990, the story of the Nude tour. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.

 

More Prince?

Prince - Model C guitar (designed by Jerry Auerswald) (dhgate.com)

Prince – Model C guitar, linked to the Nude Tour, but was also used during the Lovesexy Tour (designed by Jerry Auerswald)

4 comments

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    • johnjkj4 on 06/02/2020 at 9:23 PM

    Fantastic article (as always). Regards, John from Denmark

    1. Thank you so much! Happy reading 😉

    • David on 08/21/2020 at 11:51 PM

    Another brilliant article.

    Bizarrely, I find myself reading this article 30 years to the day after seeing Prince for the first time at Maine Road Stadium, Manchester (21 / 08 / 90). I was 18 years old at the time and just totally in awe of the man and his music. Whilst I hoped for more from Graffiti Bridge in the setlist, it was nevertheless a magical evening and a phenomenal concert. (To be fair, though, he could have come onto the stage and played chopsticks on his piano and I’d have been blown away!) Through a national paper, I’d applied for tickets in the enclosure near the stage so we felt like VIPs. It was just wonderful to be so close to Prince. An evening I will never forget.

    Loved your article – it’s given me more context to the experience, so thank you! I personally loved the Batman album so was pleased to see some of its highlights – esp. The Future and Electric Chair – performed on the tour. Would just love to get in a time machine and go back to experience it all again…

    Cheers!

    David 🙏

    1. Thank for your reply. I loved the nude tour, especially The Question Of U. Graffiti Bridge songs were rarely played, remarkably enough. Great to hear the article brought back memories for you. Thanks again!

Compliments/remarks? Yes, please!