And then today, the story was gone.
Lewis tells Billboard that Prince's team got in touch with Ebony yesterday, asking for the interview to be taken down, saying that Prince believed the conversation to be off the record. Lewis denies that assertion, mentioning that during at least one part of the conversation Prince did ask for a section to be kept off the record, and that that section was not published. Multiple attempts to contact Prince's team were not returned as of press time.
What was remarkable about Lewis' interview transcript in the first place was that it existed at all; Prince is legendary for many things, among them his refusal to allow journalists to record his interviews or take notes in his presence ("Some in the past have taken my voice and sold it," he told Billboard's Gail Mitchell in a 2013 cover story by way of explanation). It made super fans and casual observers take notice; it's rare enough for Prince to give interviews, much less one so extensive and so wide-ranging. Billboard aggregated the story from Ebony yesterday as well, which was also removed following the original's deletion. So with such a big coup on its hands, why did Ebony remove the interview?
Prince is far from the only artist who is protective and reclusive about his work and life, though he may be the most extreme. Paisley Park, his Minnesota home/studio/hideaway where Lewis' interview took place, is almost mythical in its exclusivity, and Prince has had a strained relationship with the Internet; outside of Tidal, his catalog doesn't exist and any YouTube videos featuring him or his music are almost instantly removed. Combined with his cloaked and rare interviews, it adds to the aura of one of the most intriguing artists of any generation.
Beyoncé is another artist who has a history of tightly controlling the narrative around herself, gracing the covers of magazines without granting interviews. Rihanna just recently did the same, and she's currently sitting on the most-anticipated album since... Adele, who herself went three years between granting interviews, and Adele certainly seems to be doing fine. A year ago, D'Angelo returned from the wilderness to release the excellent Black Messiah after a 15-year hiatus from releasing music during which he did a handful of interviews at most. Daft Punk's Random Access Memories deservedly won Album of the Year (among a slew of other honors) at the Grammy Awards in 2014 and the French duo is among the most reclusive artists in the business.
Of course, Prince has no obligation to put himself out there in the media. His legacy is set in stone, he doesn't enjoy publicly discussing the past and he's more paranoid than most about owning his own story, all valid points. And so his fans continue to wait and wonder. At least there's plenty of music to fill the time.