Prince has had talks to play the most unique show of his career – by performing a set of Jimi Hendrix covers at Isle Of Wight Festival.
The megastar, who has recently released a series of new low-key albums, has said he’s interested in performing a tribute to Hendrix, who played one of his most famous shows at the first Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970.
Festival organiser John Giddings told Loaded: “I’ve suggested this to Prince for a couple of years. He has seemed quite excited by the idea. I’d love it to happen this year.”
“It’s very hard to know who Prince’s representative is. He’s a bit elusive”
But Giddings admitted that it’s tough to find out who to have talks with on the singer’s behalf. He explained: “It’s very hard to know who Prince’s representative is. He’s a bit elusive. But he’s very ahead of the game and one of the most talented musicians the world has turned out. He’s welcome to come any day of the week.”
The festival is on June 9-12 this year, with Stereophonics and Faithless joint headliners on the Friday night and Queen on the Sunday. The Saturday headliners have yet to be announced, though Giddings says they have been booked. He added: “I can’t say who it is yet, because the contractual negotiations are like The West Wing.”
However, he scotched rumours that it could be The Spice Girls. It’s the 20th anniversary of their first hit Wannabe this year, and gossip that they’d headline Isle Of Wight was sparked when three of the Girls – Melanie C, Geri Horner and Emma Bunton – were seen together at the VIP enclosure at last year’s festival.
However, it’s since been rumoured that Victoria Beckham doesn’t want to take part in any reunion. Giddings said: “Whether The Spice Girls would play without Victoria, I don’t know. I’m friends with Geri, Melanie C and Emma, but whether they want to tour again is up to them, not me.
“Just because someone comes to the festival, that doesn’t mean they’re going to play it the year after. I’ve talked to them about playing the festival over the years, but you can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to.”
“I don’t understand why the BBC effectively promote a rival festival, giving Glastonbury so much coverage. I resent that”
Giddings named Foals, The Black Keys and Royal Blood as future potential headliners, adding that he’s determined to get Green Day and Arcade Fire – who have yet to play the event – to top the bill one day too.
He also said that he’d like Ed Sheeran to headline one day too, despite calling him “fucking boring” in 2014.
Giddings, who first revived Isle Of Wight Festival in 2002, admitted he’d since come to admire Sheeran’s music and said he’s seen the singer socially several times since.
He confessed: “I didn’t want to like Ed, but he’s really, really good fun. He’s a good guy. I really like him, and I’d have him play the festival in a heartbeat. I’ve grown to love him.”
As well as the headliners, this year’s festival stars Iggy Pop as the special guest on Saturday night. Everything Everything, Jess Glynne, Busted, Adam Ant, Blossoms, Reverend And The Makers, The Corrs, Twin Atlantic, Feeder and Half Moon Run are also on the bill.
It follows Blur, Fleetwood Mac and The Prodigy as last year’s headliners. Giddings secured Fleetwod Mac despite Michael Eavis publicly courting the reunited rockers to play Glastonbury for several years.
Giddings said: “Michael asked how I managed to book Fleetwood Mac and I told him: ‘I paid them.’
“Glastonbury don’t have to pay artists as much, because they have so much BBC coverage. I don’t understand why the BBC effectively promote a rival festival, which means they can get bands a lot cheaper than we have to pay for them in the commercial sector.
“I don’t understand why the BBC funds Radio 1’s festival Big Weekend either. I pay a licence fee for these people to compete against me, and I resent that.”
“I didn’t want to like Ed Sheeran, but he’s really, really good fun”
The 62-year-old, who also promotes The Rolling Stones and was David Bowie’s concert organiser until the singer’s death last month, admitted he’s concerned about the lack of new rock bands emerging as potential headliners.
The festival introduced a successful new acts stage hosted by club night This Feeling last year, but Giddings said: “There are a lot of new rock bands out there, but it’s harder for them to get exposure.
“Royal Blood stuck out like a sore thumb at the BRITs last year. They weren’t part of what else was happening at all. They were brilliant, but you could see people thinking ‘Who are these?’ You don’t get bands treading the boards in little clubs now.”
One band Giddings does think will eventually play his Festival is Oasis.
“I’d love to get Oasis, they’re my dream,” Giddings enthused. “They’ll reform eventually. Absolutely they will. They have to. The world wants them to, and the pressure will be on them until they do.
“I’ve met Noel a few times, and I’ve asked him if it’ll happen. But I’ve asked Paul Weller to reform The Jam and he just turned around and walked the other way.”
Isle Of Wight Festival is at Newport’s Seaclose Park on June 9-12. For ticket details and full info, see here.
Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn