“I knew that I was blowing it. I knew that Jesus was real, but I wanted to deny it because I had this selfish agenda.”
It took him a little while, but Dez Dickerson, former lead guitarist for rock star Prince, finally realized that you can’t fool God. Dickerson knew that the music he was performing with the band was destructive. So when he sang, he thought of an unusual means of compromise.
“I would mime the words to the offensive parts of the songs. I’d just move my lips and sort of lip sync rather than sing it out, thinking ‘See God, I didn’t say it.’” Looking back, Dickerson is pretty sure God didn’t buy it. And today, Dez doesn’t either.
Since he first recorded a Ray Charles song as a tot, Dickerson wanted to make his living as a singer and musician. However, after he finally hit the big time with Prince, he didn’t find the joy he expected, but instead an uncertain world of masquerade.
Dickerson recorded three albums with Prince, including the album 1999 which sold two million copies. With the success of the 1999 tour, Dickerson attained celebrity status, riding in limousines, staying in beautiful hotels, and lifting a finger only if he chose to.
“After a while there’s sort of an ongoing letdown, because being a rock star was supposed to make me happy. This was supposed to be the thing that was going to make life meaningful,” he explains. “You find out it isn’t. It’s an occupation like anything else, and while there are seemingly tremendous benefits to it , there are just as many debits. I think every entertainer does what they do in order to feel loved and accepted. That’s really the bottom line.”
When the band was on the road, Dickerson and a few other members developed a habit of watching Christian television. “I remember a couple of times praying the salvation prayer under my breath.”
While he was home for Christmas in 1980, Dickerson felt a tremendous sense of urgency that he needed to accept Jesus. “I just knew it was time to quit fooling around and stop running.”
Although Dickerson received Jesus as his savior, he did not change his lifestyle and soon his spiritual dedication ceased to be important. He continued with the band through 1983, miming the lyrics he felt uncomfortable singing.
In 1983, at the completion of the 1999 tour Dickerson left Prince’s group. He formed a group and toured to promote a much anticipated album that he never released.
Although producing quality music is important to Dickerson, he says no music should be made at the expense of compromise. “The place the Lord has brought me to is the realization that He has called us to holiness, and that true holiness is the outburst of a heartfelt desire to have unbroken fellowship with Him. If there’s anything that causes you to fall out of fellowship with the Father, that’s something that you have to determine.”
This view of the holiness of God, has caused Dickerson to be discriminating in the material he releases.
Dickerson and his wife are now involved in music and youth ministry at a church in south St. Paul.