BRUCE SWEDIEN: Prince is wonderful…just an incredible talent. Both he and Michael had a cordial relationship. They even hung out a few times. It’s common knowledge that the song “Bad” was written to be a duet between Michael and Prince. But as you know it never came together. When Prince left the studio after we were working on “Bad” he decided to pull out of it. He left the control room and as he turned around to go he said to us all, “Don’t worry, this record will be a big hit even if I’m not on it.”
ALAN LEEDS: But the thing about Michael coming to Prince and wanting him to do “Bad,” that really pissed him off. Prince was like, “Oh, he wants to punk me out on record. Who does he think I am, crazy?” He couldn’t get outside himself enough to realize that it was the kind of thing that probably could have benefited both of them. Still, it would have forever been Michael’s video with Prince as just a guest. So that captured what the relationship couldn’t be. They were like Ali vs. Frazier. And the media couldn’t get enough of pitting these guys against each other.
CYNTHIA HORNER: I take credit for that [laughs]. Right On! was a fan magazine, so I could get away with some of the things that I did. Michael and Prince were not actually battling each other on a serious level. But because I knew that was something the public found fascinating and everybody always talked about it, I wanted to have both of them on the cover together to project that element of Prince vs. Michael.
TEDDY RILEY (Longtime Michael Jackson producer): We looked at Michael and Prince as Gods. I still remember getting the first call from Michael to work on the Dangerous album. I was trying to get Q-Tip to let me use his studio in Sound Works on 21st St. I had the whole floor booked out. In one room, I was working on Jane Child’s “Don’t Want To Fall In Love,” the other room was Keith Sweat’s “Make You Sweat” and the other one was Guy’s “Why You Wanna DOG Me Out.” And I went into the other room and created “Remember The Time.” I brought Michael back to our world—the young, black, New Jack Swing world. That was the moment that people said “Michael is R&B again.” He wasn’t just the King of Pop. He was the King of R&B. And Prince was the king of funk-rock.
QUESTLOVE: You recall that ill-fated duet Eddie Murphy did with Michael called “Whatzupwitu?” I have five hours of raw footage during filming for that video. Michael and Eddie had a green screen behind them, so somewhere in that second hour, the conversation turns to Prince. And Eddie is like, “Yeah man…Prince is a bad motherfucker. I’m glad I’m working with you, but another dream I have is working with him too.” And I don’t even think that Mike knew the camera was on him and he goes, “Yes, he’s a natural genius.” And then four beats later, Michael says, “But I can beat him [laughs].”