It was “somewhere in the middle of Europe” in 1987 that Prince spun around half way into “Purple Rain” and mouthed to his drummer, “Marry Me?” Of course, the fierce, Sheila E.
said yes. In her new memoir “The Beat of My Own Drum,” Sheila E. finally confirms in glorious detail the long-swirling rumors that she and His Purple Majesty actually had been engaged. Everyone always knew they were lovers. But Prince had so many women.
“He blew me a kiss, turned to the audience, and took the most amazing guitar solo ever,” she writes of the moment she made Prince a happy man. “For the rest of that year my relationship with Prince was a dream … We were with each other all day and all night, so if he was fooling around on me, he would have had to be quick about it.” Sheila Escovedo, the daughter of Latin percussionist Peter Escovedo, was just making a name for herself as a woman who could pound a hot beat when she bought a ticket to see Prince in concert in 1978 in San Carlos, Calif.
After the show, she walked in on him in his dressing room as he was combing out his long, straight hair.
Before she could introduce herself, he interrupted her.
“Oh, I know who you are,” Prince said. “I’ve been following your career for a while.” She was stunned and thrilled. The two started hanging out, often jamming in her bedroom equipped as a mini-recording studio. Escovedo wasn’t ready to take things further — she was still upset from an earlier relationship with Carlos Santana, who she had fallen in love with as an 18-year-old.
Santana had even asked her to marry him. Then she found out he was already married. Santana’s wife left him and Escovedo couldn’t deal with being a homewrecker. She ended it. Though the relationship with Prince remained platonic, he didn’t stop wooing her. Escovedo was met by a bouquet of flowers from Prince every night in her hotel room. She was back home rehearsing with Lionel Richie for his upcoming tour when she learned Gaye’s father take his life.
Escovedo writes that there were “dark omens” on the road, but nothing to prepare her for something like that. Prince would fly in to join her on the Richie tour, and back in Los Angeles she hung out with him in his Sunset Boulevard recording studio.
One night, he insisted that she step up to the mic. Her throat closed up, but Prince coaxed a performance out of her. The song was “Erotic City,” and she wouldn’t sing the “f-word.” They compromised — he sang the original lyric while she went with “we can funk until dawn.” For years, fans argued about what they were actually hearing.