When Prince walked into a room, his presence was palpable.

Alice Cooper learned this firsthand one year at the Grammy Awards. "I’m standing at the Grammys backstage it’s [David] Bowie, Elton [John] and myself, I forget who else," Cooper tells UCR. "All of a sudden, these five big guys walk by and they go, 'Don’t look at Prince. Don’t look him directly in the eye.' We all looked at each other, and we went, 'The Prince of Wales? The Prince of India? What?' They said, 'You know, Prince.' All of us looked at each other like, 'Prince who?' [Laughs] And it was Prince! He walked by, and you couldn’t see him anyway, because these guys were all 6' 8" and he’s [not very tall]."

Cooper may not have caught a glimpse of the Purple One that evening, but he did witness Prince's magic up close a few years ago.

"I saw [him] play at a club in New York City," Cooper recalls. "There was no stage, and he was in his underwear. Just his underwear. He was the lead singer in this band. I don’t know where it was, but I remember seeing this little guy in his underwear, and he was kind of half James Brown and he was kind of half this and that. He was great."

It was Prince's guitar playing in particular that stood out ... plus his attempt to swipe Cooper's guitar player, Orianthi. "The guy was so talented," Cooper notes. "He never got his due as far as [being] a guitar player. I thought he was a great guitar player. People never really connected him as being a virtuoso guitar player. He always used to call up Orianthi when we were on tour, trying to get Orianthi in his band. I would hear her talking on the phone, and I’d say, 'Is that Prince?' She’d go, 'Yeah.' I’d say, 'Prince! Wait for two more years. She’s in my band for two years.' You could just hear him laughing on the other side, because he was trying to coax her out of my band and into his."

John also admired Prince's talent through the years. "I like to think that if you're a real musician, you recognize quality when you see it," John wrote in a foreword for the new book Prince and the Parade and Sign O' the Times Era Studio Sessions: 1985 and 1986. "But you didn't need to be a musician to recognize that in Prince you had quality that was extraordinarily high. You just needed ears and eyes."

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