Sheila E. confirms engagement to Prince, describes niece Nicole Richie’s adoption in new memoir

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    SHERRYL CONNELLY

    EBET ROBERTS/REDFERNS

    Prince and Sheila E. perform on stage during the Purple Rain Tour.

    It was “somewhere in the middle of Europe” in 1987 that Prince spun around half way into “Purple Rain” and mouthed to his drummer, “Marry Me?”

    Of course, the fierce, sexy Sheila E. said yes.

    In her new memoir “The Beat of My Own Drum,” Sheila E. finally confirms in glorious detail the long-swirling rumors that she and His Purple Majesty actually had been engaged. Everyone always knew they were lovers. But Prince had so many women.

    “He blew me a kiss, turned to the audience, and took the most amazing guitar solo ever,” she writes of the moment she made Prince a happy man.

    “For the rest of that year my relationship with Prince was a dream … We were with each other all day and all night, so if he was fooling around on me, he would have had to be quick about it.”

    Sheila Escovedo, the daughter of Latin percussionist Peter Escovedo, was just making a name for herself as a woman who could pound a hot beat when she bought a ticket to see Prince in concert in 1978 in San Carlos, Calif. After the show, she walked in on him in his dressing room as he was combing out his long, straight hair. Before she could introduce herself, he interrupted her.

    Drummer Sheila E. confirms engagement to Prince in new memoir.

    VINCE BUCCI/GETTY IMAGES

    Drummer Sheila E. confirms engagement to Prince in new memoir.

    “Oh, I know who you are,” Prince said. “I’ve been following your career for a while.”

    The new book goes on sale Sept. 2.

    The new book goes on sale Sept. 2.

    She was stunned and thrilled. The two started hanging out, often jamming in her bedroom equipped as a mini-recording studio.

    Escovedo wasn’t ready to take things further — she was still hurting from an earlier relationship with Carlos Santana, who she had fallen in love with as an 18-year-old. Santana had even asked her to marry him. Then she found out he was already married. Santana’s wife left him and Escovedo couldn’t deal with being a homewrecker. She ended it.

    Though the relationship with Prince remained platonic, he didn’t stop wooing her. On what would be Marvin Gaye’s final tour, “Sexual Healing,” Escovedo was met by a bouquet of flowers from Prince every night in her hotel room.

    She was back home rehearsing with Lionel Richie for his upcoming tour when she learned Gaye’s father had shot him dead. Escovedo writes that there were “dark omens” on the road, but nothing to prepare her for something like that.

    Sheila E., Prince and Cat Glover perform on stage on the Lovesexy tour at Wembley Arena on Aug. 3, 1988 in London, United Kingdom.

    PETER STILL/REDFERNS

    Sheila E., Prince and Cat Glover perform on stage on the Lovesexy tour at Wembley Arena on Aug. 3, 1988 in London, United Kingdom.

    Prince would fly in to join her on the Richie tour, and back in Los Angeles she hung out with him in his Sunset Boulevard recording studio. One night, he insisted that she step up to the mic. Her throat closed up, but Prince coaxed a performance out of her.

    The song was “Erotic City,” and she wouldn’t sing the “f-word.” They compromised — he sang the original lyric while she went with “we can funk until dawn.” For years, fans argued about what they were actually hearing.

    She signed a contract with Prince’s production company and he masterminded her first album, “The Glamorous Life.” For the video, she debuted her new full-out sexy persona, big hair and a leopard print bustier. Both were big hits.

    Escovedo and her newly formed band went on to open for Prince on his Purple Rain tour. It was then they became lovers.

    Escovedo writes that she had always been disturbed by “the harem” around him, but working and playing together day in, night out, proved too much. They tried to keep it on the down low, but people knew.

    She also starred in the hip-hop cult movie, “Krush Groove,” with Blair Underwood. A story based on the early days of Def Jam Records, the set was loaded with rappers — some of whom she found hostile. Prince, in Monte Carlo shooting “Under the Cherry Moon,” didn’t want her to do the love scene that called for nudity. She ended up drinking for courage before, she writes, allowing “Blair to suck on my neck.”

    But Escovedo was becoming more aggressive with her sexy-girl persona. After all, she was sleeping with the most sultry, simmering being on the planet. Her performances became less about playing the drums and more about posturing in barely-there clothes.

    “I started to feel naked in the wrong way,” she writes.

    Sheila Escovedo performs in Oakland, California in this 1978 photo.

    TOM COPI/GETTY IMAGES

    Sheila Escovedo performs in Oakland, California in this 1978 photo.

    The partying never stopped, and even when Prince wasn’t around she found herself indulging her every whim. If the urge suddenly struck to have lunch at the Eiffel Tower, no matter where she was in Europe, her assistants made it happen. She writes that she had a “growing feeling that I could have anything I wanted, whenever I wanted.”

    She became so helpless that it scared her. One day her assistants, Connie and Karen, forced her to walk down a street by herself and order lunch at a deli. She was nearly incapable of even doing that. “I became mean, demanding, and angry. I stopped asking and started telling … I was becoming a nightmare,” she says.

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