Prince and Sheila E., BFFs if there ever was a pair! The above photo was taken in Oakland, California during Prince’s Welcome 2 America tour. On this night of the tour, Sheila E. opened for Prince. The picture captures the moment as she finished her hit song “Glamorous Life” and Prince walked on stage to congratulate her. She immediately grabbed and hugged her BFF. They then shared a laugh.
Inseparable and certainly joined at the hip for almost 3 decades, Prince and Sheila E. have collaborated to create some of the most memorable music from the mid to late 80s.
According to Alex Hahn’s book Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince, Prince Rogers Nelson and Sheila Escovedo met in 1978, while Sheila was touring with her father, the magnificent timbalero Pete Escovedo. They met back stage and Prince prophetically proclaimed they would one day make music together. Soon Prince and Sheila began to jam together and share musical ideas. Prince began to produce Sheila as an artist and bestowed upon her the moniker Sheila E. Their first recorded collaboration took place just a few years later when a reluctant Sheila sang background on Prince’s big hit “Let’s Go Crazy”. Hahn suggests Sheila, up to this point, saw herself as an instrumentalist and in no way a singer. Prince was able to instill in her the confidence to sing. The newly minted BFFs began their productive and legendary collaboration. Prince produced Sheila E’s albums The Glamorous Life (‘84), Romance 1600 (‘85), and Sheila E. (‘87). During the same period Sheila shared her drumming and percussion talents on Prince’s albums, Purple Rain (‘84), Around The World in a Day (‘85), Parade (‘86), and Sign O’ The Times (‘87). Sheila E.’s ability to play complex Jazz and Latin rhythms added a new dimension to Prince’s recordings and live sound.
Prince and Sheila E. have over the decades forged an unbreakable music bond that is filled with love, respect, honor, and support for one other. When you see one of the BFFs perform the other is no doubt not too far away.
Prince and Sheila E.’s friendship fused musical cousins R&B, Funk, Rock, Blues, and Latin Jazz together in a way that allowed it to soar far beyond rigid musical genres, which were intended to keep the masses in their respected cultural places. Their music was multi-genre and multicultural; simply put, they used Black music to bring people together.