Perhaps one exception to this was Foo Fighters. In 2003, the band reached out to Prince, asking permission for a U.S. release of its cover of “Darling Nikki,” which had been released as a B-side to their Australian single “Have It All.” The 1984 song was also included in the Foos’ set lists.
Prince, who died in 2016, firmly denied the request.
When asked by Entertainment Weekly if he liked the Foos’ version of the song, Prince replied, “No! I don’t like anyone covering my work. Write your own tunes!”
Listen to Foo Fighters’ Cover of ‘Darling Nikki’
But according to a new essay penned by Prince’s former assistant, Ruth Violette Arzate, this wasn’t an accurate representation of how the late legend really felt.
“Firstly, don’t believe everything you read,” Arzate recalled Prince saying to her at the time. “That statement was taken out of context. Secondly, that band embodied the song in the way it was meant to be played. They are so good they could do a whole album of my rock songs.”
Prince would go on to incorporate the Foo Fighters song “Best of You” into his legendary Super Bowl halftime performance in 2007, a move the band members thought may have been retaliatory.
“The thought went through my head that maybe he was doing it as a sort of ‘fuck you’ to us,” drummer Taylor Hawkins told MTV in 2007. “Either way, it was pretty amazing to have a guy like Prince covering one of our songs — and actually doing it better than we did.”
Not long after the performance, Arzate received a music-licensing request: The Foos wanted to play “Darling Nikki” at MTV’s VMAs. Prince agreed at the last minute – the night before the show. Afterward, Arzate asked him what he thought. “They did a good job,” he said. “I do like the way Dave [Grohl] keeps the integrity of the song in his performance.”
Watch Foo Fighters and CeeLo Green Perform ‘Darling Nikki’ at the VMAs in 2007
The following year, Prince finally met Foo Fighters at a show, after which he again complimented the band’s sincerity in its craft. “The entire band was excellent,” Prince told Arzate. “You know how much I admire excellence. They were raw and edgy in their playing. I bet they rehearse a lot. You don’t sound like that unless you’ve rehearsed till the dirt falls off and the shine comes through.”
In 2011 Grohl would jam with Prince, and even though their performance wasn’t recorded or documented, it was, Grohl later recalled, a “dream fulfilled.”
“We were lucky to have him while we did,” he said. “I miss him dearly.”
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