Prince called Ray a "master." "If he liked what you did, he put you on a pedestal.
It's one of the beautiful things he did for people." And when he really liked something, he'd always smile and say: "That was delicious." Juell, still red-eyed from days of crying, smiles at the memory. He was destined to be the next Ray Charles on tour." (Prince had been embarking on his "Piano and a Microphone" tour, and Roberts says Prince was studying Ray Charles videos for inspiration.) He says Prince would regularly play three seconds of a song, dozens of times in a row, to get it right.
It was nine months before the artist interacted with them directly, but eventually, he was comfortable enough to make menu requests directly, chat, joke, and hang in the kitchen, the way all people do, everywhere.Naturally, the Robertses are bereft, and say they're currently in the anger stage of grief.It was one of only three times Ray got in trouble for anything. "Some nights that's all he had to eat." He was a disciplined eater, though, sometimes having only a single bite.The other was for lateness, and once, for leaving a cake out of place. And sorry, vegans, he wasn't a member of your tribe after all. Meat was among the "long list" of items they were not to use, along with onions, Feta cheese, and mushrooms.Prince lived on site, and the kitchen was adjacent to the sound studio, so the biggest treat of all for Ray was hearing the music, every day, loud and clear in the kitchen. But despite the diligent work, the last few months had been worrisome for Ray. I had to be careful about what I was serving him." Prince was more frequently requesting foods that would help him to feel better, or something easy for his throat, or foods that made him feel like he was being nourished.
"The last few months he had the flu or a cold, always. And on the Monday before he died, he made an unusual request: a crudite plate with edamame hummus.
They feel reticent about talking to anyone— much less media.
Of course, they signed confidentiality agreements, and say that even close friends were unaware of their position and the details surrounding their work.
"I'd think, I'll make it again if I can figure out what it is! He came away from the job with few other mementoes, taking care never to filch even a stray guitar pick, regardless of the intense temptation.
Prince was ever-observant, and they never wanted to fall into a test or a trap. Other favorite dishes were roasted poblano peppers with pinto beans, fresh corn tortillas, and avocados; minestrone soup; veggie wraps; edamame dumplings; and, though he didn't eat cheese very often, a cheesy pasta.
After so many years of silence, it feels strange to open up, and they're still protective of Prince's personal life and habits. Always in a good way." That said, they had to be ready for whatever at all times, and corner-cutting was not tolerated. If something went wrong, I had to come forward," Ray remembers.