The Song That Prince Stopped Playing Live but Eventually Came Back To

You can’t beat the creative and sensual energy of Prince. He delivered hit after hit in his heyday, from “U Got The Look” to “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World”. But there’s one chart-topping track from 1982 that Prince refused to play for a while before coming back to it. And that song is “1999”. 

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Prince decided to stop playing “1999” in (you guessed it) 1999, and even announced it to the whole world. Shortly before he was slated to perform at a pay-per-view concert on New Years Eve at the end of 1999, Prince told the world that he would be retiring “1999” during an appearance on The Early Show on CBS.

“This is going to be the last time we play it,” Prince said. “We’re going to retire it after this [the NYE show], and there won’t be no need to play it in the 00s.”

Prince didn’t give an exact reason why. Was he sick of the song? Did he want to usher in a new era of Prince? Was he anxious from the impending Y2K bug that was expected to “end the world”? Who knows. What we do know, though, is that Prince retired the song… for a few years before bringing it back.

Prince Takes A Break From “1999” Until 2007

Prince kept his word for a while. However, he eventually brought the song back for his Super Bowl performance in 2007.

It does make sense why Prince temporarily retired the song. It was released years before the turn of the millennium, and the song brought out excitement in the imaginations of those who would live to see a new era in the world. Once the 2000s came to be, it didn’t make sense to keep playing it. There was nothing left to imagine; the year 2000 was here, and everyone was living in it.

“We were sitting around watching a special about 1999, and a lot of people were talking about the year and speculating on what was going to happen,” Prince said in a 1999 interview with Larry King. “And I just found it real ironic how everyone that was around me whom I thought to be very optimistic people were dreading those days, and I always knew I’d be cool. I never felt like this was going to be a rough time for me.”

“I knew that there were going to be rough times for the Earth because of this system is based in entropy, and it’s pretty much headed in a certain direction,” Prince continued. “So I just wanted to write something that gave hope, and what I find is people listen to it.”

And the song is still very much legendary today.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

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