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Controversy Tour

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Controversy Tour

Controversy Tour
Tour by Prince
Associated album Controversy
Start date November 20, 1981
End date March 14, 1982
Legs 1
Shows 55
Prince concert chronology
Dirty Mind Tour
Controversy Tour
1999 Tour

The Controversy Tour was the third concert tour by American recording artist Prince in support of his fourth studio album Controversy. The tour included The Time as an opening act.


The Controversy Tour marked the debut of Mark Brown, a.k.a., Brown Mark on bass guitar replacing the departed André Cymone and the introduction of Prince's new bodyguard, Chick Huntsberry. At first, Prince contemplated dismissing the huge Huntsberry after only being on tour with him for a few days, as Prince thought he was too big and he scared him. Guitarist Dez Dickerson talked him out of it and he eventually became a confidant to Prince and later appeared in Purple Rain as a bouncer.[1] This tour was also notable for Prince's new side group The Time joining him on tour and the resulting backstage drama and arising tension that developed between the two bands.

Although The Time became superstars overnight with their debut album, The Time, they were frustrated at the lack of input they contributed to the album as, with the exception of Morris Day, they didn't write or play their own music and were only being paid as a live act. During the tour, The Time would put on such a great show during their set that it began to worry Prince just how good they had become and with them performing right before his set, began to feel they were outshining him, so much so, that during the 1982-1983 1999 Tour, he kicked them off the tour for being so good.[2]

The conflict came to a head on the final night of the tour in Cincinnati as during The Time's set, Prince and some of the members in his band began egging them from off stage. Near the end of the set, they grabbed Jerome Benton from the stage and proceeded to "tar and feather" him by pouring honey all over him and dumping trash on him. Things got further escalated after The Time's performance, guitarist Jesse Johnson was handcuffed to a wall-mounted coat rack and further humiliated with Prince throwing Doritos and other food at him. When The Time went to retaliate, they were stopped by the tour manager and told there would be no interruptions during Prince's performance, but as soon as he left the stage, a food fight erupted between the two bands. When the battle continued at the hotel causing damage, Prince made Morris Day pay for all damages, claiming that he had started the whole thing.[1]

Opening acts

Set list

The typical setlist was a "greatest hits" of the Prince and Dirty Mind albums, along with a smattering of new material from Controversy. A pre-recorded a capella intro called "The Second Coming" opened the set. "Uptown" was usually the first song, followed by "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?". The segued together "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and "Head" was held over from the Dirty Mind Tour. "When You Were Mine" was sung partially in Prince's normal voice — an indication of how he would sing it in the future. "Dirty Mind" was a typical number, followed by the new slow jam "Do Me, Baby". Other new regular songs were "Controversy", "Let's Work" and "Jack U Off". Sometimes, Prince and Dirty Mind songs "Sexy Dancer" and "Partyup" were played. On occasion, various Controversy material included "Sexuality", "Private Joy" and "Annie Christian".

Setlist of November 21, 1981, at the Warner Theatre, Washington, D.C., 1st show [3]

  1. Intro: "The Second Coming"
  2. "Sexuality"
  3. "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?"
  4. "Jack U Off"
  5. "When You Were Mine"
  6. "I Wanna Be Your Lover"
  7. "Head"
  8. "Annie Christian"
  9. "Dirty Mind"
  10. "Do Me, Baby"
  11. "Let's Work"


  1. "Controversy" Setlist of December 12, 1981, at the Carolina Coliseum, Columbia, South Carolina[4]
  2. Intro: "The Second Coming"
  3. "Uptown"
  4. "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?"
  5. "Sexy Dancer"
  6. "I Wanna Be Your Lover"
  7. "Head"
  8. "Dirty Mind"
  9. "Do Me, Baby"
  10. "Controversy"


  1. "Let's Work"
  2. "Partyup"
  3. "Jack U Off" Setlist of December 20, 1981, at the The Summit, Houston, Texas[5]
  4. Intro: "The Second Coming"
  5. "Uptown"
  6. "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?"
  7. "I Wanna Be Your Lover"
  8. "Head"
  9. "Dirty Mind"
  10. "Do Me, Baby"
  11. "Controversy"


  1. "Let's Work"
  2. "Private Joy"
  3. "Jack U Off"

Tour dates

Prior to the tour, in October 1981 Prince played two shows at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as an opening act for The Rolling Stones. On the first date, Prince and his band didn't finish their set, as the crowd turned hostile towards him. Dressed in his controversial bikini briefs and trench coat, and singing his sexually androgynous lyrics, he was run off stage after 15 minutes of the crowd booing, throwing things at him and screaming homophobic and racist slurs.

After the show, Prince immediately flew back home to Minneapolis. After speaking with Dez Dickerson, manager Steve Fargnoli, and Mick Jagger himself, he returned for the second concert. Amidst the same hostility, as The Rolling Stones' fans heard about the incident at the first concert and came prepared to dog Prince again, Prince and his band finished their set this time.

Date City Country Venue
North America
November 20, 1981 Pittsburgh United States Stanley Theater
November 21, 1981 Washington, D.C. Warner Theatre
November 21, 1981
November 25, 1981 Greenville Greenville Memorial Auditorium
November 26, 1981 Baltimore Baltimore Civic Center
November 27, 1981 Charlotte Charlotte Coliseum
November 29, 1981 Nashville Nashville Municipal Auditorium
December 2, 1981 New York City The Palladium
December 4, 1981 Detroit Joe Louis Arena
December 5, 1981 Chicago Arie Crown Theater
December 5, 1981
December 6, 1981 St. Louis Kiel Auditorium
December 10, 1981 Atlanta The Omni
December 12, 1981 Columbia Carolina Coliseum
December ??, 1981 Savannah Savannah Civic Center
December 18, 1981 Baton Rouge Riverside Centroplex
December 19, 1981 Dallas Dallas Convention Center Arena
December 20, 1981 Houston The Summit
December 26, 1981 Milwaukee MECCA Arena
December 28, 1981 Toledo Toledo Sports Arena
December 29, 1981 Columbus Veterans Memorial Auditorium
December 30, 1981 Louisville Louisville Gardens
December 31, 1981 Macon Macon Coliseum
January 2, 1982 Lakeland Lakeland Civic Center
January 3, 1982 Jacksonville Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum
January 28, 1982 Richmond Richmond Coliseum
January 29, 1982 Landover Capital Centre
January 30, 1982 Passaic Capitol Theatre
February 1, 1982 Ann Arbor Hill Auditorium
February 4, 1982 Saginaw Saginaw Civic Center
February 5, 1982 Cleveland Public Auditorium
February 6, 1982 Normal ISU-Braden Auditorium
February 7, 1982 Omaha Civic Auditorium Arena
February 9, 1982 Denver Denver Auditorium Arena
February 11, 1982 San Diego San Diego Convention Center
February 12, 1982 Santa Monica Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
February 13, 1982 San Bernardino Orange Pavilion
February 14, 1982 San Francisco Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
February 15, 1982
February 18, 1982 Kansas City Uptown Theater
February 19, 1982 Martin UT-Martin Fieldhouse
February 20, 1982 Birmingham Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center
February 21, 1982 Indianapolis Indiana Convention Center
February 24, 1982 Memphis Mid-South Coliseum
February 25, 1982 Monroe Monroe Civic Center
February 26, 1982 Augusta Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center
February 27, 1982 Montgomery Garrett Coliseum
February 28, 1982 New Orleans Saenger Theatre
March 3, 1982 Boston Orpheum Theatre
March 5, 1982 Rockford Rockford MetroCentre
March 7, 1982 Bloomington Met Center
March 11, 1982 Hampton Hampton Coliseum
March 12, 1982 Raleigh Dorton Arena
March 13, 1982 Upper Darby Tower Theater
March 14, 1982 Cincinnati Riverfront Coliseum

The Band


  1. ^ a b Alex Hahn (2003). "Possessed: The Rise And Fall Of Prince". Billboard Books. 
  2. ^ Jason Draper (2008). "Prince: Life & Times". Jawbone Press. 
  3. ^,_1981-1
  4. ^,_1981
  5. ^,_1981
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