When Jill met Prince
At 18, Jones met Prince in 1980 during his Dirty Mind Tour when she was performing as a background singer for the late Teena Marie, who was managed by Jones’ mother. Their encounter brought a “passive aggressive way of flirtation” out of the normally shy teenager that she didn’t even expect.
“I don’t meet people and say something provocative. He stirred my being, he unnerved me, he rattled me. I’d had not met anyone like him and I was really defiant with him out of the reactionary response. I was walking up the stairs coming from the sound check, he was coming down and we looked at each other eye-to-eye and kind of stopped. He said, ‘Hi.’ I went, ‘Hi. So what, the stage isn’t big enough for all of us or something really sh——.”
After their fateful encounter, her mother told her that Prince would be a star someday much to Jones’ disbelief.
“You know he’s going to be a huge star one day. I want you to watch this show.” And I said, “You’re kidding?” and she said, “No. He’s going to be huge.” She was right. In his underwear and his trench coat.”
Growing up in the music industry as the step-niece of music legend Berry Gordy, Jones witness the unglamorous side of being in the limelight and wanted to be a source of support and a true friend as his career continued to rise.
“She’s Always in My Hair,” the 1985 B-side to “Raspberry Beret” was written about Jones who he said affirmed him regardless of the circumstances, singing, “…she’s always there/telling’ me how much she cares.”
“No one else championed me at Paisley Park, except Prince. Nobody. In fact, I don’t think half of the people liked me to be honest with you because I was his friend and I guessed I never minced my words. I always tell him what I thought and I wasn’t trying to be everybody’s friend. I always started thinking that everybody had angles, coming from where I came from,” she said.
In 1990’s Graffiti Bridge, an infamous scene showed Jones’ character pulling off her panties in the middle of the street and walking off, leaving a stunned Prince. The tension on the screen was semi-autobiographical to the slow demise of their relationship at the time.
“What was so great about Prince is that he could stand in your shoes and write something as if it’s from your point of view. That’s kinda where my headspace was about everything. It was Jill’s moment of empowerment over someone who she felt wasn’t benefiting her anymore,” she said.
She felt like an outcast at Paisley Park with some of the artists
“I was kind of an outsider to the clique and you know, I think that once Wendy and Lisa kind of edged Dez out of the picture then it just became a bit harder. Then they created this little clique with her sister [Susannah] and it just turned into these different franchises.”
What it was like sharing memories with Apollonia 6 in light of Denise’s passing
“We were all talking about our ailments at 50-something years old. We had a lovely conversation. I was trying to convince everybody to go skydiving in Dubai. It was kind of wild too to be sitting there with each other for that reason that was what was a little bit strange but I was so grateful that Denise brought it where we all were all able to do that and I’m still grateful for her for all that.”
In November 2015, his high school girlfriend Kim Upsher died
“She was the kindest, patient, and supportive person for him. Watching the changes that come into your life, I had a lot of empathy for her because she helped me navigate through all that bull—— at the beginning. She passed away before Denise so he had a double whammy. So I know everybody is like, ‘Oh, Denise’ but his girlfriend who has been with him, lived in the same house as him, grew up with him, that was his big crush from school…Kim was an unsung hero in my opinion. The stayed friends throughout. She knew his family, everything and it was sad. She passed away from a brain aneurysm and that sadden my heart.”
Once a woman completed an album with Prince, the romantic period was over.
“When you got an album completed, you were done as a romantic interest. Like, you were still there but he was putting you in a place where you weren’t going to just be a happy power couple. You were given your wings to go do your thing. His ability to let go of your how fast or slow, that’s because he was juggling, like we say, the inspiration for all these women. Some guys send you flowers, Prince would just give you an album (laughs).”