Whenever someone starts off by saying “I’m not racist, but…” you can be sure something racist is going to follow. That’s what happened on Friday in Maryland when washed-up ’80s rockers L.A. Guns singer Phil Lewis was paying tribute to Prince. The English-born singer was introducing the band’s 1989 semi-hit “The Ballad of Jayne” and brought up playing Prince’s Minneapolis venue First Avenue. Video shows him saying the following on Friday at the Fish Head Cantina in Arbutus, MD:
“I don’t wanna bum you out, you know who just died, and I don’t wanna make a big… I don’t wanna bring it down or anything. I remember when we were working on Cocked & Loaded, we were on tour, and they said there was a venue that we could play in Minnesota; it was called First Avenue. And I didn’t know too much about it at the time. But after I saw the movie, and I got it; I was with the program.
“We were all into that Prince, right?! Purple Rain. It was so cool, because, you know, you had all your heavy shit, and then you had the pop shit, and there was Prince doing his own fucking thing. The problem is, right now — and I’m not gonna be a racist about it — but black people are all one-dimensional. We need more Princes, man. We need less fucking rappers and more people like Prince. There, I said it.
“Anyway… When we first played First Avenue, nobody knew who the fuck we were; we were opening for someone. I don’t know. And it wasn’t going very well, I’ll be honest. You never know with these things. And then we played this song and it changed everything.”
The backlash against Lewis and L.A. Guns should begin immediately, but the problem is that the crowd seems to support his comments. Saying that there should be more people like Prince in the world is a perfectly acceptable statement to make. His music transcended genre, age, and definitely color. Yet by painting an entire culture in one broad stroke, Lewis is showing just how out of touch he is. He should listen to a Kendrick Lamar or a Roots record is he wants to see where the spirit of Prince will live on. Prince’s lack of genre distinction comes from accepting many other cultures and making them his own, something that seems entirely lost from a band that hasn’t had an album chart in the United States in 25 years.
In short, saying “black people are all one-dimensional” is like saying “all white people named Phil are racist.” Okay, maybe that’s not the best example.
You can watch Lewis’ comments below: