2001 - December 13: "USA Today" Magazine Interview PDF Print E-mail

 

On rumors created by tabloid press:

“I don’t pay any attention. The fans know the tabloid garbage is crap. They always say to me, “Let’s have a tabloid burning”. It’s terrible to try to assassinate one’s character. I’ve had people come to me, and after meeting me, they start crying. I say, ‘Why are you crying?’, they say, “Because I thought you’d be stuck up, but you’re the nicest person’. I say, ‘Who gave you this judgement?’. They tell me they read it. I tell them, “Don’t you believe what you read”. […] I’ve done so much [refuting] in the past. I did the most watched TV interview in history with Oprah Winfrey [in 1993]. But [the media] tend to want to twist what you say and judge you. I want to keep it on the music and on the art. […]”

On his “King of Pop” title:

“I never self-proclaimed myself to be anything. If I called up Elizabeth Taylor right now, she would tell you that she coined the phrase. She was introducing me, I think, at the American Music Awards and said in her own words – it wasn’t in the script – ‘”I’m a personal fan, and, in my opinion, he is the king of pop, rock and soul”. Then the press started saying “King of Pop” and the fans started. This self-proclaimed garbage, I don’t know who said that.”

On touring:

“[…] Physically, touring takes a lot of you. When I’m on stage, it’s like a two-hour marathon. I weigh myself before and after each show, and I lose a good 10 pounds. Sweat is all over the stage. Then you get to your hotel and the adrenaline is at its zenith and you can’t fall asleep. And you’ve got a show the next day. It’s tough.”

On his music:

“I never think about themes [for my music]. I let the music create itself. I like it to be a potpourri of all kinds of sounds, all kinds of colors, something for everybody, from the farmer in Ireland to the lady who scrubs toilets in Harlem.”

On fatherhood:

“[Fatherhood has changed me] in a huge way. You have to value your time differently, no doubt about it. It's your responsibility to make sure they're taken care of and raised properly with good manners. But I refuse to let any of it get in the way of the music or the dance or the performing. I have to play two different roles. I always wanted to have a big family, ever since I was in school. I was always telling my father I would outdo him. He had 10 children. I would love to have like 11 or 12 myself.”

On coping with being a famous artist/parent and the implications of it on his children and his fans:

“You do the best you can. You don’t isolate them from other children. There will be other kids at the school [on my property]. I let them go out into the world. But they can’t always go with me. We get mobbed and attacked. When we were in Africa, Prince saw a mob attack in a huge shopping mall. People broke so much stuff, running and screaming. My biggest fear is that fans will hurt themselves and they do. I’ve seen glass break, blood, ambulances.”

On what he has taught his children:

"[…] I try to make sure they’re respectful and honorable and kind to everybody."

On what his children have taught him:

"A lot. [Parenthood] reminds you to do what the Bible has always taught us. When the apostles were arguing among themselves over who was the greatest in Jesus’ eyes, he said, "None of you", and called over a little boy and said, "Until you humble yourself like this child." It reminds you to be kind and humble and to see things through the eyes of children with a childlike wonderment. I still have that. I’m still fascinated by the clouds and the sunset. I was making wishes on the rainbow yesterday. I saw the meteor shower. I made a wish every time I saw a shooting star."

On missing out on his childhood and using his pain to create art:

“It’s not anger, it’s pain [due to this]. People see me at the amusement park or with other kids having fun, and they don’t stop and think, “He never had that chance when he was little.” I never had the chance to do the fun things kids do: sleepovers, parties, trick-or-treat. There was no Christmas, no holiday celebrating. So now you try to compensate for some of that loss. […] That’s what makes greatness. You have to have that tragedy, that pain to pull from. That’s what makes a clown great. You can see he’s hurting behind the masquerade. He’s something else externally. Chaplin did that so beautifully, better than anyone. I can play off those moments, too. I’ve been through the fire many times.”

On his pastime activities:

“I like to do silly things; water-ballon fights, pie fights, egg fights. […] I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of that. […] I just love it.”

On being adulated and his purpose on earth:

“It’s always a good feeling. I never take it for granted. I’m never puffed up with pride or think I’m better than the next-door neighbor. To be loved is a wonderful thing. That is the main reason I do this. I feel compelled to do it, to give people some sense of escapism, a treat to the eye and the ear. I think it’s the reason I’m here.”

On his personal wish:

"Peace and love for the children."

On the difficulty of coping with having a famous parent:

“If you look back in history, it’s the same with anybody who’s achieved wonderful things. I know the Disney family well, and Walt’s daughters used to tell me it was difficult when they were in school. Kids would say, “I hate Walt Disney. He’s not even funny. We don’t watch him” Charlie Chaplin’s kids, who I know well, had to take their children out of school. They were being teased. ‘Your grandfather is stupid. He’s not funny. We don’t like him.” He was a genius! So you have to deal with this jealousy. They think they’re hurting you. Nothing could hurt me. […]”

On his plans to build theme parks in Europe and Africa:

"We’re still working on a couple of projects. I can’t say right now where. I love theme parks. I love seeing children coming together, having a good time with their parents. It’s not like it used to be, when you put your kids on the merry-go-round, and sat on the bench eating peanuts. Now you enjoy it with them. It builds a unity to the family."