Hello Reddit,

My name is Owen Husney and I have been in the music industry for 50 years. As an artist manager in Minneapolis, I discovered an 18 year old Prince, and was able to land him his first record deal with Warner Bros. Records. It was one of the biggest new artist signings in history at that time. Prince and I worked closely from 1976 to 1980 and lived together in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Los Angeles during this time.

Since then, I have also worked as as a nightclub promoter and tour marketer working closely with many legendary artists including the Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper and Sonny and Cher. I signed Andre Simone and Jesse Johnson to record deals, earning 11 gold and platinum albums along the way.

I’ve just released my memoir entitled “Famous People Who’ve Met Me” which is available here for those interested in learning more about my life as a rock and roll businessman.

For now I’ll be answering questions about myself so reddit, please AMA!

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EDIT: I just want to say thank you to everyone who participated in this AMA, I had a great time answering your questions. Please be sure to pick up a copy of my book Famous people Who've Met me here: https://www.famouspeoplethebook.com/

If you live or are visiting Los Angeles, I have a great book launch event Thursday April 26 at Mr. Musichead Gallery at 7 pm. Andre Simone and Peter Himmleman will be stopping by to play a few songs and there will be a Q&A with KCRW's Gary Calamar. I will be showing rare pictures and doing a reading from my book. Here is the event.

Comments: 991 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

thydeyokids1151 karma

Seems to me like most superstars lose a connection to their roots, yet Prince repped Minnesota throughout his career. Can you speak more to how and why Prince remained a die-hard midwesterner?

Owen_Husney2100 karma

Prince loved Minneapolis. My belief is that he loved the isolation that the town gave him to work versus living and working in Los Angeles or New York. Its no secret, and even Prince has mentioned this, that the cold Minneapolis weather kept riff-raff out of the town. Minneapolis is a wonderful town and a peaceful place to live. (in the summer) But the cold is a great creative taskmaster as it keeps you indoors practicing your craft.

R1ckJamesBitch820 karma

Is he really that good at basketball and is that thing with Charlie Murphy true?

Owen_Husney1456 karma

Yes he is that good at basketball. I once saw him face a basketball net with a wall behind him. He threw the ball behind his head, it banked off the wall behind him, and bounced into net in front of him... SWISH!

Edit: Spelling

KryptonsSavior583 karma

Hi Owen! Huge Prince fan ever since my parents introduced his music to me when I was a little one. I'm curious, what is your opinion on the music industry today compared to the time where artist like Prince and Michael Jackson were at their prime?

Owen_Husney1450 karma

In a word, it sucks.

There is no real true artist development at the record labels today. Labels want everything handed to them on a silver platter. When the bean counters took over the passion left and if your first album does not sell a certain amount, you're dropped by the label. In the early days, Warner Brothers took great care in nurturing a young Prince. I seriously doubt that Prince would have had 1/10th of the development today that he received over 40 years ago by WB. This is a topic of discussion in my book, Famous People Who've Met Me, if you're interested in reading more on this.

blueraptr516 karma

What was the toughest line item to negotiate in that first Warner Bros. record deal?

Owen_Husney710 karma

Keeping Prince's publishing for himself and getting him to be his own producer when he had never made a full album before. There more on the negotiation with Warner Brothers in my book.

realstreet512901487 karma

Was Prince really that good at writing lyrics? Some of his lyrics just blow me away. What type of stuff did he like to read in his spare time? What stuff did he like to when he wasn't in the studio?

Owen_Husney891 karma

During the time I was with him, Prince was either writing music, playing music, performing music, or recording music. He took very little time off. Most of the time I was with him perhaps we would go to a movie or go out to eat and then it was back to work. Part of being a great songwriter is being a great lyricist. In my opinion it never seemed like it was a problem for him to write lyrics and seemed to come very naturally. And that is a rare gift. Oddly enough Paul McCartney talked about having that same talent with regard to himself writing lyrics.

Suspicious_Rash469 karma

Do you feel his rejection of Youtube etc hurt his career in later years and particullary in the early to mid 2000's?

Owen_Husney936 karma

I don't want to speak for what he was thinking, but I can only give my opinion.

It seemed like Prince was highly protective of his art and I understood his reasoning and even his battle with Warner Brothers. I have great respect for Warner Brothers and what they did in the early days to help him get on the map. If you're a modern day Mozart, you want to protect your hard work as much as possible.

jordanhusney425 karma

You and your wife lived with Prince after he was signed to Warner Bros. What was he like to live with? What is something about his character that wasn't revealed through his public persona?

Owen_Husney831 karma

Prince has a terrific sense of humor. We played a ton of practical jokes on people to break the tension of recording.

He was also great at sports and could beat the hell out of anyone at ping pong.

R1ckJamesBitch221 karma

Is that Charlie Murphy story true?

Owen_Husney454 karma

Remember one rule. You have to be absolutely HUGE before anyone will parody you.

R1ckJamesBitch131 karma

Yes, but is it true? I NEED to know. And who’s idea was it to put Chappelle on his album cover? Did you need to get permission from CC?

Owen_Husney204 karma

I believe there is truth in all parody.

I really don't know about the album cover, that was not during my time.

edit: spelling

SoakTubs346 karma

Hey Owen! Thanks for doing this.

I'm curious, what was your first impression of Prince? Did any aspects of that impression end up being particularly true or false as you got to know him?

Owen_Husney591 karma

The first impression I had was of Prince's great intellect and his ability to absorb information at lightning speed. I have never seen this before or after meeting Prince. Also, his work ethic and dedication to his craft.

This became evident after being in the studio with David Z recording his demos. I noticed that Prince didn't just pick up one or two aspects of being in the studio but he rapidly grew to understand how an entire recording session worked from tracking to EQ to the process of mixing music.

I go into this at length in my book Famous People Who've Met Me

Princeorg3456294 karma

The public knows Prince as a very shy, timid guy. When you hung out with him, was he the opposite? Was he talkative & the life of the party? Was he great at picking up girls? Was he always out at the club?

I just remember celebrities & band members say he is really humorous and fun, yet in interviews he's totally mysterious & quiet. And in his music, it seems like he's a big flirt with the women, but could that just be a persona? Do you know why he wanted to appear one way in public but act totally different in private? Did he tell you why he acted so mysterious?

Owen_Husney830 karma

Prince was definitely not the life of the party, unless he was on stage.

However, he had an excellent sense of humor and was quite talkative once he knew and trusted you. Prince could be so warm and charming that he never had to worry about picking up girls. Mostly they were attracted to him, and that makes me very jealous.

As far as Price being mysterious, thats who he really was. To me he was very private but played his life out on stage. People like Prince are never one dimensional, they are like a diamond with many facets to their personality. Just when you thought you had Prince pigeon holed, he would surprise you with another dimension of his personality. Truly hard to define.

djsnider273 karma

Hey Owen!

While you were working with Prince, was there a specific moment when you knew that he would be one of the all time greats?

Owen_Husney738 karma

Truth be told, I recognized the potential the first time studio owner Chris Moon played me an early demo and then when David Z completed the first professional demo at Sound 80 studios in Minneapolis just before leaving for Los Angeles to get a record deal.

Also, Prince would record on my home tape recorder and leave cassettes for me to listen to that would blow me away. No one has ever heard these recordings and I keep them under tight wraps.

GorgeousChrome135 karma

Is there any chance these cassette recordings will ever be released commercially?

Owen_Husney474 karma

Sadly, there are many rights issues, but I would like to find a way to release them legally because its the best example of Prince's talent as a teenager.

lituponfire226 karma

What's the most infuriating thing you've witnessed in your line if work?

Owen_Husney824 karma

Artists with great talent, who have lost careers due to drugs.

TheHighestFever176 karma

What changes did you see in Prince as he studied and became one of Jehovah's Witnesses?

Owen_Husney335 karma

I'm sorry but I was not around him during that period. But from what people have told me it seemed to really center him in a business that can be overly demanding.

youngadria172 karma

When did you work with Alice Cooper and do you have any insight into the management style of Shep Gordon?

Did his style influence your own?

Owen_Husney473 karma

I was traveling on a commercial flight from Alice's gig in Minneapolis to a gig in another city. Alice was on the flight but not in character. The flight attendant had been at the concert the night before and was saying how crazy and demented Alice Cooper had been. Alice overheard her, walked over to her, and agreed with her. She never recognized him and never knew she was speaking directly to Alice Cooper. We were all seated and laughing so hard we couldn't control ourselves.

His manager Shep Gordon was an early mentor to me. He is a great guy and very good at what he does. I remember going to a meeting at his office in LA, he way laying on his couch smoking a big joint with a phone next to him handling everything with precision. Much respect for him.

theshardunique161 karma

What is your fondest memory of working with/watching Prince Perform?

Owen_Husney453 karma

Watching him play all the instruments in the studio and build a track like it was 6 different people, not just one. That was an astounding thing to see.

Frajer112 karma

What's your favorite Prince song?

Owen_Husney233 karma

I really like so many Prince songs but the ones that come to mind are "Baby," "Sign O' The Times" and "Sometimes It Snows in April," but there are so many it is almost impossible for me to list them.

MimonFishbaum204 karma

Hey, it's been snowing an awful lot this April.

Owen_Husney323 karma

And thats why I moved to Los Angeles.

bazO_okaJoe111 karma

How much trickle down booty did Prince pass along to you?

Owen_Husney197 karma

No trickle down, they were not there to see me!

blndgirlk110 karma

Out of all the celebrities that you've worked with, who is the nicest?

Owen_Husney316 karma

Famed jazz singer Al Jarreau. Al lived in Minneapolis and hung out at my house on and off for two year. He's a grammy winning jazz vocalist.

Also, Mick Jagger. During the time I spent with him in 1972 he was down to earth, natural and all business.

racingislife99 karma

Hi Owen - looking forward to reading your book. Prince’s life’s work in and out of the studio (e.g. philanthropy) reached and impacted people’s lives in many ways. From your experiences with him, is there something you’d like to share (and see more of) with/from future generations of artists?

Owen_Husney245 karma

What I liked about his philanthropy was that he never boasted about it. Many of his philanthropic actions were kept pretty secret and that is really cool. I would like to see more artists give back to their communities either in funding for education, the arts or the underprivileged. Once of the ways i have personally given back is by teaching "The Basics of the Business of Music" at UCLA. You don't get rich doing this but its my way of giving back to the only business I've ever been in since I was 16 years old.

saintpurrtrick94 karma

Hi Owen, what is the best non-Prince performance you have ever seen?

Owen_Husney313 karma

There are countless performances that have impressed my from many artists large and small, however, performances that stand out in my mind are Janis Joplin, James Brown, and Jimi Hendrix. When shit is real, its real.

linprn78 karma

Hi Owen, What do you think changed the most in Prince's musical growth starting from when you first heard him to his passing?

And what did you think of him as a visual artist? Did you ever foresee the guy with the Afro and bell bottom jeans wearing some of the things he did over the years? Especially those riske outfits?

Owen_Husney170 karma

What I really like about Prince and all great artists is their ability to take you on a journey from their first album forward. Think of the Beatle's "I want to hold your hand," all the way to Sgt Pepper's. What struck me the most, but did not surprise, me was the growth and sophistication of his writing as the years went by. When I saw him at the forum in LA (3 times out of 21 shows) I was blown away with the level of his performance and the sheer artistic magnitude of his writing. To be truthful, he went far beyond what I thought he would become even though I knew he would have an incredible career.

With regard to the outfits, really, he surprised us all with the fashion sense since the afro and bell bottom jeans days. its just another example of Prince's uncanny ability to absorb the world around him and take it to the next step. Sorry to sound this way but thats what we call "undefinable magic" you can read more about this aspect in my book Famous People Who've Met Me

Serialsuicider74 karma

Hi Owen! Were you there when Kevin Smith met Prince? And if so, have any stories?

Owen_Husney138 karma

No but I know the story. And there is a lot of truth to that story.

JohnnyLuchador67 karma

Hey Owen, ive respected Prince as an artist since i was young and thank you for your management, but I have a question. How in the hell do i get my wife to like/enjoy Prince? She cannot stand his music and throws a fit when I throw on any of his records. Luckily my daughter has good taste and enjoys the musical stylings of Prince.

Owen_Husney186 karma

Lock her in a room and start out with some of the earlier music on the first album like "Baby" and "So Blue" and perhaps his more sensitive writing like "Sometimes it Snows in April" because thats the most accessible. Don't plop her down in the middle, take her on the journey!

Then put on some of his funkier shit and go in the room and dance with her.

pigeonman4163 karma

Hey Owen , why didn’t Jesse Johnson’s album Bare My Naked Soul get any more exposure or be more successful than it did? It’s my favorite album all time!

Is Jesse a cool guy? What’s he like ?

Owen_Husney97 karma

Jesse is a VERY cool guy and as far as I'm concerned he is one of the to 5 guitar players alive in the world today. Jesse has also done some awesome work playing with D'Angleo.

To answer your question, and I'm not 100% sure, but I believe Bare My Naked Soul was released independently and sometimes independent albums don't get as much exposure as those released on major labels. Both Jesse Johnson and Andre Simone were two of my favorite artists to work with other than Prince.

mr___matt58 karma

Hiya Owen,

Are there any funny stories about artists you could share with us? Or any memories in particular that stand out from a normal day to day

Owen_Husney196 karma

One of the stories that stands out is from when I was promoting Sly and the Family Stone at the Met center in Minneapolis. Instead of Sly arriving by limousine at the back door, he instructed the limo driver to drive down the hallways of the met center in the limo and drop him off directly at his dressing room. No one had ever done this before and the management of the stadium went crazy!

I yelled at him for driving down the hallways in a limo so when he finally jumped ons tage, instead of singing "thank you for letting me be mice elf again" he looked at me and sang "Fuck you for letting me be mice elf!"

Needless to say we didn't speak to one another until the next concert I promoted in Wisconsin. To this day I consider Sly to be one of the greatest of all time. He broke down the doors between pop and soul music and gave us the first rainbow band.

AGallagher41051 karma

Is there a ton of unreleased music that is to be released?

Owen_Husney149 karma

Yes. Most people know about the extent of unreleased music that he stored in his vault over the years. There are hundreds if not thousands of recordings. Prince was the most prolific music artist of our time. Look for it to be released over the coming years from his estate.

youngadria51 karma

Who is your favourite wrestler!?

Owen_Husney166 karma

I have to say only out of respect Stone Cold Steve Austin, who agreed to a private sit down with my son Evan when my son was 12 years old and was a HUGE fan of professional wrestling. He still is to this day.

ebz3750 karma

Any new stars that peek your interest in talent or personality?

Owen_Husney268 karma

I like Cardi B because she's a breakthrough female hip-hop artist. We just studied her in my music business class at UCLA. Oddly enough I'm very appreciative of Bruno Mars and his pure songwriting talent.

Just waiting for Nickelback to break into hip-hop though.

TheThatGuy142 karma

Hey, I went by paisely park shortly after prine died when people were covering the fence with purple balloons and ribbons. Then biked past last fall and the fence was completely bare. What happened to those? Did they just get thrown out was something special done with them. Also what is happening at paisly park now? Is it just shut down or is something else going on there?

Owen_Husney76 karma

From my understanding, the things that were on the fence were all kept and preserved somewhere, but I don't know where. Paisely is still very much in operation today with tours and there is a big Prince fan event going on all tis week.

ThreeDeep199839 karma

Hi Owen,

My family has known you for years and I've gotten to meet you a couple of times. Went to school with your son too. Do you still keep in touch with Bobby Z/David Z?

Owen_Husney44 karma

Yes, I was just with Bobby Z and David Z, when David Z's daughter got married. Bobby Z still lives in Minneapolis, But David lives very close to me in Los Angeles.

Fallenrjl12345678927 karma

Good day, Owen.

Now this might seem like a weird question, but I'm so interested in it. In "Sexuality", there's a line, "...Inventors of the accu-jack. They look at life through a pocket camera. What? No flash again?..."

What was Prince's stance on pornography & raunchy magazines? Was he okay with it? Did he think it was not pure? Was he a truly a ladies man?

Just very curious. Hope the question isn't too inappropriate.

Owen_Husney57 karma

I don't want to go too deep in the woods here because it would only be my opinion, but I think there exists a struggle within everyone on that subject matter.