Prince made his second television appearance in 1980 on American Bandstand. He was only 19 years old. During the introduction, the show’s host, Dick Clark, can’t hide his amazement at the fact that Prince self-produced his first two records and played all the instruments—especially at such a young age.
He obviously hasn’t seen the kid perform yet. With his guitar slung behind his back and his feathery hair flowing, Prince struts and grinds about the TV set in high heels, gold tights and an open silk shirt like some street-corner teenage hustler. As he lip-synchs his first bona fide hit single, the roller-rink, disco-tinged “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” he looks like the slinky, soft-core love child of Little Richard, Mick Jagger and James Brown. His band is even stranger—a motley, mixed-gender, multi-racial coterie with a ragtag style that makes Sly and the Family Stone look like the Staple Singers. At the end of the song, Clark steps up and asks, “How did you learn to do this in Minneapolis?” Prince turns diffident, a 180-degrees from the salacious performer he portrayed five seconds before. Clark continues in a surprised tone, “This is not the kind of music that comes from Minneapolis, Minnesota.” Prince shrugs and with his hand in his hair, he meekly agrees—then he lets slip an impish laugh like he has something up his silky sleeve.