In January 2003, Chappelle’s Show premiered on Comedy Central and planted itself firmly in America’s collective consciousness, quickly exploding as a titanic cultural phenomenon and one of the greatest sketch comedy shows ever produced.
Anyone who’s a fan of the show knows that the late, great Navy veteran Charlie Murphy (fair winds and following seas, Shipmate) provided some of the show’s most memorable and utterly hilarious sketches with his “True Hollywood Stories” segments. The first was about Charlie and Eddie Murphy’s real-life adventures with Rick James in Tinseltown’s cocaine-haze nightlife of the 1980s, and the fact that it featured James recalling parts of the story in his own words (“Cocaine is a helluva drug”) left no doubt it was in fact a “true” Hollywood story. (And “fuck yo couch” if you don’t believe it.)
The second installment of Charlie Murphy’s “True Hollywood Stories” featured Murphy telling the tale of Prince (rest in power, Legend) running into the Murphy brothers at a club and inviting them and their entourage back to his place, where Prince — allegedly — challenged them to a pickup basketball game and then proceeded to absolutely hand them their asses.
The positively hilarious story seems way too good to be true, and Murphy seems to imply at the end that maybe it really was: “There’s some great storytellers in the world we live in today, man. Who the fuck could make up that shit?” Murphy says, staring deadpan into the camera at the end of the sketch.
But thanks to a recent interview in Esquire with Grammy-winning blues rock guitarist and Prince acolyte Micki Free, we can all do like Ted Lasso and believe. It’s true … all of it. Here’s what Free told Esquire:
Charlie Murphy wasn’t lying. Everything that happened in that was for real. We went back to Prince’s house after the club. It was 1985, and there was a bunch of girls with Eddie [Murphy], myself, Charlie—rest in peace—and some other guys. And out of nowhere Prince says, “Do you guys want to play basketball?” Me and Charlie and Eddie are looking at each other like, what the hell? And Prince goes, “Me, Micki, and Gilbert against you, Eddie, and Uncle Ray.”
We played three-on-three. I don’t remember if we changed our clothes, but I know for certain that Prince did not change his. He didn’t gear up to play. If anything changed beyond the blouses, it was his heels. Prince changed into some tennis shoes. All I remember is when Prince made that first shot, it was all-net. I’m looking at him make shot after shot, like, “What the hell?” Then at the end they really did make us pancakes—blueberry pancakes. And they were good! Hanging out with Prince was magical.
We can only imagine. Now excuse us while we rock some Purple Rain and pour some out for a couple great Americans.