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Prince's first guitarist looks back

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A few lines in a Minnesota newspaper advertisement changed Dez Dickerson's life forever.

It read, "Warner Brothers recording artist seeks guitarist and keyboardist."

That recording artist was 17-year-old Prince. Dickerson, a struggling guitarist, performed a 15 minute audition on the way out of town.

Those 15 minutes led to a life-changing relationship.

"Prince took me out in the parking lot," Dickerson told CBS Nashville affiliate WTVF-TV Thursday after learning of the music icon's death. "We talked after the 15 minutes of playing, and that was it."

For the next five years, the two played side-by-side. They toured the world together, and wrote some of Prince's biggest hits.

While Prince was known for being a meticulous musical genius, two hits the pair wrote together took less than two hours to create.

"I was [in his studio] for maybe an hour and a half [and] recorded my co-lead vocal [Judgment Day] on "1999"and the guitar solo on "Little Red Corvette,"' Dickerson said.

Mystery will always define the music legend whose songs created a soundtrack for a generation.

Yet Dickerson recalls Prince's light-hearted side.

After the 1999 World Tour wrapped up (in 1983), Prince wanted to have a food fight. It that would end up costing $20,000.

"I remember seeing the glee on his face -- that sort of 'Dennis the Menace'-like glee -- running around throwing water balloons filled with syrup on people," he said.

Shortly after the food fight, Dickerson left the band, wanting to focus on new projects.

Years went by until the two talked again, when Prince performed in Nashville in 2004.

Then another 12 years went by, until a phone conversation just three weeks ago.

"There was no indication to me that there were any health problems at all," said Dickerson.

The half-hour conversation would turn out to be Dickerson's last with Prince. He vows never to reveal what was discussed.

The significance of that conversation doesn't appear lost on Dickerson.

"That was very, very much ironic now that we hadn't spoken since 2004, and we just spoke again just a few weeks ago," he said.

As rumor and mystery begin defining Prince's death, Dickerson struggles to say what is lost now that the artist is deceased.

"Sometimes you don't recognize the value of something until that thing is gone," he said. "In this case, it's not a thing, it's a person, but I think it something that will unfold over time."

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