This day in 1981 – During a North American tour The Rolling Stones played the first of two nights at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. Support act was Prince, who dressed in his controversial bikini briefs and trench coat ran off stage after 15 minutes due to the crowd booing and throwing beer cans at him.
Prince and his band (soon to be called the Revolution) took the stage before fellow openers George Thorogood and the Destroyers and the J. Geils Band. Before he even played a note, it was clear that he might not have been the best fit for this blues-rock audience. Prince came to the microphone in his typical stage attire from that era – see-through jacket, thigh-high boots, black bikini briefs.
“Next thing I noticed was food starting to fly through the air like a dark thunder cloud. Imagine 94,000 people throwing food at each other; it was the craziest thing I had ever seen in my life,” remembered bassist Brown Mark, who had just joined Prince’s band. “I got hit in the shoulder with a bag of fried chicken; then my guitar got knocked out of tune by a large grapefruit that hit the tuning keys…”
Prince and his band stopped the set partway through their fourth song, “Uptown,” amidst a stadium’s worth of boos. Stones fans had successfully turned Prince away.
He flew home to Minnesota without the band. A round of calls from his manager, his guitarist Dez Dickerson and Jagger encouraged Prince to try again on Oct. 11.
“I talked to Prince on the phone once after he got two cans thrown at him in L.A. He said he didn’t want to do any more shows,” Mick recalled in 1983. “God, I got thousands of bottles and cans thrown at me! Every kind of debris. I told him, if you get to be a really big headliner, you have to be prepared for people to throw bottles at you in the night.
Prince flew back out west and led the Revolution through another opening slot. Although they got about the same treatment – a bootleg recording reveals rampant booing and insults along with comments about the amount of trash thrown on stage – the band finished their five-song set on this occasion. In a shot surely directed at the audience, Prince closed with “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?”
The show continued with Thorogood and J. Geils before the Stones delivered the hits, plus new material from Tattoo You.
Prince would never open for the Stones again.