In honour of Nick Mallett’s glorious performances as a studio guest for Supersport this test season, we’ve decided to run a few articles letting our readers know some obscure things about South Africa’s golden manchild. We begin with his under appreciated role in shaping American pop music.
In 1983 Nick was languishing in obscurity after a less than stellar season as a loose-forward with Western Province. Having taken a break from rugby, he was working on a concept album that he described to friends at the time as “a new kind of sound – the sound of electric postmodern lightning”. Most studios were not ready for Mallett’s revolutionary sound and he did not find a willing audience or lucrative record deal. A trip to the United States in late 1983 changed all that.
After finding himself watching a game of street basketball in Minnesota and as is customary whenever Nick Mallett is in the vicinity of a sports contest, he was unable to stop himself from screaming obscenities at the participants. Nick accused the basketball of lacking heart and not trying hard enough. Unknown to him, he had interrupted a game involving musicians from the Revolution, Prince’s support group at the time. Few would know it at the time but this chance encounter between Nick Mallett and the Revolution would change American musical history. They were able to resolve their differences when Nick Mallett showed the Revolution the correct way to pump fake and alley-oop and all involved soon formed a bond that would lead to musical partnership.
Within days Prince had joined the team and together with Nick Mallett they collaborated on early recordings of what would later become Prince’s seminal album Purple Rain.
For those collectors lucky enough to have the original vinyl 1984 print, Nick Mallett has partial writing credits for a number of songs including “Let’s Go Crazy“. Arguably his most famous contribution to the Purple Rain album is his line:
“This is what feels like when doves cry”.
When Nick isn’t found at primary schools yelling at under 10 age group rugby kids playing rugby who happen to be unrelated to him, he can be found in Supersport adding insight, pathos and tragedy to South African rugby broadcasts.