Watch a tight-lipped, 19-year-old Prince troll American Bandstand host Dick Clark with an excruciatingly awkward interview on his TV debut

Prince on TV
(Image credit: Youtube)

Three months on from the October 1979 release of his second album, simply-titled Prince, the 19-year-old Prince Rogers Nelson was invited to make his TV debut on ABC’s long-running and hugely popular music programme American Bandstand.

The plan was that the teenager and his band would lip-sync to two tracks from the record, the album’s opening cuts I Wanna Be Your Lover and Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?, after which he’d conduct his first ever TV interview with the show’s host, broadcasting legend Dick Clark.

Sitting amid his teenage audience, Clark gave his guest a glowing introduction, relating how Prince had previously turned down several labels wanting to put out his music, and hailing Prince, the record, as a “fantastically successful album.” The subsequent lip-syncing performance, for which Prince was joined by bassist André Cymone, keyboardist Matt Fink, drummer Bobby Z., guitarist Dez Dickerson and keyboardist Gayle Chapman, went off without a hitch: Clark’s attempt to interview the teenage prodigy, however, proved to be more challenging, to put it mildly.

“Where did you learn to do this in Minneapolis?” is the host’s first question, one Prince answers with a one word question of his own: “Where?”

“Yeah, this is not the kind of music that comes from Minneapolis, Minnesota,” Clark says with a chuckle, receiving another one word answer: “No”

After getting the teenager to introduce his band one-by-one, Clark asks Prince his age - “19” - and then asks how long ago it was that the young musician turned down record labels wishing to release his early demos, a question Prince answers by holding up four fingers. 

“And why would you turn it down?” Clark asks, eliciting the relatively verbose response “They wouldn’t let me produce myself.”

“You were 15 at the time,” Clark says. “Did they think you didn’t know what you were doing?”

“Don’t know,” comes the reply, as Prince looks off dreamily into the distance.

“Were you ever disappointed that you didn’t let them do that to you?”


“Did someone tell me that you played every instrument on this album?”


Ploughing ahead regardless in the face of this impressive stonewalling, Clark suggests that Prince must be very shy or perhaps just modest.

“How many instruments do you play?” he enquires.

There’s a pause while Prince considers his response.

“Hmmm… thousands,” he suggests.

And so it continues…

Watch this magical moment of TV history unfold below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.