Technician was called in on day off to tune Prince’s guitar

A guitar technician ended up touring with Prince because his predecessor was fired hours before the music icon’s only Irish concert.

Scott Halliday was called to Malahide Castle on his day off, unaware it would be the beginning of weeks of sharing the stage with the superstar. A new RTÉ radio documentary, Prince at the Castle, tracks how the rock star fired nearly all of his production staff hours before the Dublin concert, before hiring a bemused new local crew on July 30, 2011. They had to familiarise themselves with the set-up in a matter of hours.

Part of RTÉ’s ‘Documentary On One’ series, the broadcast will chronicle the strange goings-on behind the scenes. Crowds were hidden from the musician during his very late rehearsal and even a truck was covered in a black sheet, because he didn’t like its colour.

But the music legend, who flew into Dublin under the assumed name Mr Badminton, delivered an incredible set, culminating in a shower of rain coming out of the sky during one of his most famous hits.

All sorts of shenanigans were pulled behind the scenes to please the temperamental star, but he lived up to his reputation as the world’s greatest showman.

Scott was not told before he arrived at Malahide Castle whose guitars he would be tuning.

“I think if I had known, I possibly would have not done it, because it was pretty terrifying”, he recalls .

Presented with the Minneapolis-born singer’s guitars, he had to try to learn Prince’s instruments and set up in just a few hours.

“I looked up Google”, he said, “which was surprisingly helpful. Anyone who would have been able to help me had been let go.”

Scott, who had been on a day off when the call came to go out to Malahide Castle, told how he ended up performing guitar riffs on stage with the Purple One, when he was asked to join the rest of the tour.

“As he walked off stage, he handed me the guitar and said ‘thank you’ and he was definitely happy. I put it away and the production manager asked me to continue on the rest of the tour. I continued for another three weeks around Europe and had some amazing times.

“I ended up playing guitar with Prince on-stage at gigs, and off-stage, loads of songs every night, which was just mind-blowing.”

In the weeks before the Irish gig, Prince’s tour dates in Europe had been plagued with sound problems, which could have been the reason all his production staff were fired in Dublin.

The fired US crew agreed to be smuggled into the gig to talk to the new Irish crew on walkie talkies, from their hiding place in a car behind the stage, helping them set up for the audience of 35,000.

Prince at the Castle will air on RTÉ Radio One today at 1pm



Lifestyle

Renegade cattle make bid for freedom

Preserving the past, looking to future

Allie’s in wonderland

Wild salmon at risk

More From The Irish Examiner