On March 1, 2013, Prince and 3rdEyeGirl performed a medley of a new song “Screwdriver” and a 1979 classic, “Bambi.” Prince and 3rdEyeGirl did what they always did: destroyed. It’s a performance for the ages, and arguably the best in a long line of musical performances on Jimmy Fallon’s NBC shows – both Late Night and the Tonight Show. When Prince left the stage he made a typically dramatic exit and threw his guitar straight up in the air. Many times when he did this there was a guitar tech waiting to catch the guitar, but not on this night. There was a bigger problem; this was not Prince’s guitar. The guitar he was playing was a 1961 Epiphone Crestwood that belonged to The Roots’ guitarist “Captain” Kirk Douglas. Check the video:
If Captain Kirk was bothered or concerned, he hid it well. He played it very cool, but there’s one specific clip where you can see him looking over at his guitar almost like it was an injured child. After the incident Prince paid for the repairs on his guitar, but if he was apologetic, Kirk hasn’t let us know. According to an interview in Rolling Stone, Douglas said, “I was upset, but in retrospect it’s one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. He’s probably looking down saying, ‘I made your old ass guitar way more interesting, paid you for your troubles and gave you something cool to write about…you’re welcome.” Douglas also added, “I told Chris Rock about it, and he was like, ‘Oh, congratulations! You too now have your own Prince Was an Asshole to Me story.” That story is the first thing I think of when I hear the song “Bambi.”
“Bambi” was the sixth track on Prince’s eponymous second album. It was the first or second time (depending on how you feel about 1978’s “I’m Yours”) in his career that he revealed the electric guitar chops that would make him famous. So much of Prince’s early music was funk, new wave, punk, post-disco pop, but “Bambi” was just a straight up hard rocker…or at least as hard rock as you can get with Prince’s falsetto vocals. “Bambi” was actually a single, but only in Belgium and the Netherlands, and was also the B-side to the single “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” He would bring it back out regularly in the early 2010’s with his rock band 3rdEyeGirl.
“Bambi” was not one of Prince’s better known early songs, but the impression that I get is that it’s beloved by hardcore Prince heads. While I think it’s a great example of Prince’s versatility, it’s not one of my favorites as I tend to favor his early funk instead. I also think it was a dick move for him to trash Captain Kirk’s guitar.