When Prince needed something, he needed it yesterday. Even if it was just an order of ribs from his favorite Minneapolis barbecue joint.

Prince's recording engineer Susan Rogers was well aware of his needs, and she helped work out ways to fulfill the boss’ requirements as soon as humanly possible – preferably sooner, and damn the expense.

In 1986, as Sign O' the Times came together, she knew that he often wanted to hear tapes that were at his Minneapolis studio, even though he was working out of Sunset Sound in Los Angeles. “This is exactly what happened with the songs ‘Slow Love’ and ‘I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,’” she explained in a recent episode of the audio documentary Prince: The Story of Sign O' The Times.

“He decides he wants [the tapes]. Of course, you can send it FedEx and it'll get there overnight, but with him that was not even fast enough. So what we would do is we would send it air cargo. So someone in Minneapolis, a member of his staff, would box it up, wrap it up properly, label it properly, drive to the airport. Go right to the air cargo counter and send that package on the next flight that goes to Los Angeles. And then some crew member who works for him in L.A. — usually someone who worked for his management — would go out to LAX, get that tape and drive it to Sunset Sound. That's what you could do when you had a lot of money, which he had in those days.”

Naturally enough, then, that when Prince felt the need for a treat, he made use of the same method, not caring that the journey between the two airports was 1,535 miles, meaning the total trip was closer to 1,600 miles. “He did that once with spare ribs,” Rogers said. “He was in Los Angeles and he loved a place called Rudolphs Bar-B-Que in Minneapolis. … So he had someone go down there and get just a big meal and pack it all up and put it on a plane and send it out to Los Angeles.”

Prince later gave up ribs when he became vegan, and Rudolphs closed in 2018 after 43 years of operation. In 1987 the Star Tribune told how the artist had turned into a regular because he’d lived round the corner at the start of his career. “It’s not unusual to spot one Prince Roger [sic] Nelson (with bodyguards, natch) dining on a small salad and chicken near the back,” the paper said. “Other late-night celebrities [include] Sheila E., various members of the Minnesota Vikings and University of Minnesota basketball team ... and Grammy Award winner Jimmy Jam Harris, who ... directed 14 limousines of musicians at Rudolph's the night of the Minnesota Music Awards.”

 

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