Musicians are sometimes known for their eccentricities as much as they are their music. Some, for example, are known to be so demanding that they’ll refuse to perform if their backstage demands aren’t met to the letter. (Remember Van Halen and the brown M&Ms?) Others will angrily leave an interview if they don’t care for the interviewer’s questions. Still others inexplicably maintain an aura of mystery about who they really are, even though the internet has made it possible to find out just about everything there is to know about someone with a few mouse clicks.
Prince, for his part, was known throughout his life and career for his eccentricities. For example, there was his reliance on purple early in his career, or the period of time when he went by an unpronounceable symbol, rather than his name, in protest of the way he was being treated by his record company. Another Prince eccentricity that may have flown under the radar is an object he kept in his recording studio, and the rules that surrounded it.
Prince kept a swear box in his studio
In 2001, according to The New Yorker, Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness, joining a Christian-adjacent group that is perhaps best known these days for its practice of sending missionaries to knock on strangers’ doors to talk about faith — something that Prince himself did for a while.
As a Jehovah’s Witness, Prince didn’t brook the use of bad language. However, multiple people not named Prince came through his studio on a daily basis, and they didn’t always abide by his rules. According to BBC News, whenever someone would let loose with a four-letter word, they’d be required to put money in a “swear box” he kept for just this purpose.
He wasn’t kidding, either. According to a 2016 People report, his friend James Lundstrom accidentally dropped a D-word when he banged his knee, and Prince made him put some money in the box. Per the BBC, Lundstrom also recalled one particularly foul-mouthed musician who “stuffed a handful of hundred dollar bills” in the swear box as a sort of down-payment for the rest of the day’s work.
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