A 1983 concert provided a meeting of three legends of soul/R&B music. James Brown, performing for a Los Angeles audience, called Michael Jackson up on stage. After entertaining the crowd for a brief moment with an improvised song-and-dance routine, according to Brown, Jackson insisted that Prince be introduced as well; Prince responded with a blistering guitar solo and a dance of his own.
In addition to providing a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience featuring two legendary singers and dancers at the peak of their abilities (hosted by one with a Top 5 hit still left in him), the moment is apparently a brief respite in a surprisingly bitter rivalry between Prince and Michael Jackson. Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, who was friends with Prince and worked with Jackson late in his career, quoted the King of Pop as resentful of Prince:
‘Prince has always been a meanie. He’s just a big meanie. He’s always been not nice to me. Everybody says Prince is this great legendary Renaissance man and I’m just a song-and-dance man, but I wrote ‘Billie Jean’ and I wrote ‘We Are the World’ and I’m a songwriter too.’ All this disrespect for Prince came out from Michael that morning. One day, I hope Prince sits down and tells the truth about everything between him and Michael. Before I die, I want to know what the full deal was between the two of them.
Jackson apparently tried several times to arrange a truce; Jackson’s #1 hit “Bad” was apparently conceived as a duet with Prince, only to have the latter back out, worried that the line “your butt is mine” would contribute to rumors about his sexuality. Prince also famously blew off an appearance in Jackon’s charity single “We Are the World,” a decision sometimes blamed for his commercial fall from grace.