Prince encouraged Jones to sing, and stayed in touch with her.
After she finished high school, she made contact with him and asked for a job. Prince invited her to the Sunset Sound recording studios in 1982, to sing backing vocals for several tracks on his forthcoming 1999 album.
She also got a part in the music videos for the songs 1999 and Automatic, and then joined 1999 Tour to sing backing vocals with Vanity 6 and with Prince’s band.
During the Vanity 6 performance she would be kept behind a curtain (with the accompanying band The Time) and would only appear on stage for two songs.
Always In His Hair
After the tour, she moved to Minneapolis and became Prince’s on-and-off again girlfriend as well as a regular on studio sessions, singing on many different projects.
Between 1983 and 1987 she recorded backing vocals for the albums released by Sheila E., The Time, Apollonia 6, Mazarati.
She also contributed vocals (albeit often uncredited) to Baby I’m A Star, We Can Fuck, Manic Monday, The Dance Electric, Hello, the extended version of Kiss, It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night, Good Love.
In addition, Jill sang on tracks that remains unreleased to this day, including songs intended for her album (Rough, If I Could Get Your Attention, Killin’ At The Soda Shop, Married Man, Living Doll, My Baby Knows and My Sex).
In 1984, she had a small part in Purple Rain as the waitress at the First Avenue club and played in the short unreleased film Hard Life in 1987.
In 1990 she appeared in Graffiti Bridge, where she had a small role as The Kid’s girlfriend.
Her solo debut on Prince’s newly established Paisley Park Records materialized in 1987, with the release of her eponymous album Jill Jones.
The album included many withdrawn songs from former projects, such as G-Spot (previously intended for a second Vanity 6 album that never materialized). It also featured an unreleased rock effort by Prince, All Day, All Night, and a cover of With You (recorded without any input from Prince).
On top of this, Prince wrote original material specially tailored for Jill Jones. Some of the tracks were recorded in Minneapolis and the rest at Electric Lady Studios in New York with the help of David Rivkin.
Apart from With You, Prince was credited as a co-writer with Jill Jones on four tracks, leaving the other three songs credits to her. In fact, as for his previous protégées records, he wrote all the songs himself, and registred them at the library of congress under the pseudonym of Joey Coco.
Upon its release, the album received positive reviews from critics, but was not a commercial success in the USA, failing to enter the Billboards Pop and Black Top 100 charts.
The three singles issued from it, Mia Bocca, G-Spot and For Love did not make any impact on the US charts either despite a short tour as a support act for Jody Watley.
In contrast, with the help of WEA International Inc., the album did well in Europe and Jill spent considerable time over there doing interviews and making TV appearances. A sepia video shot in Mexico by French director and photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino was regularly broadcast by MTV and made Mia Bocca a minor hit in Europe.
I guess it’s all over
In the autumn of 1988, Jill Jones went to England to work on songs intended for a second Paisley Park album.
Several songs were recorded or revamped with the help of Prince: Boom, Boom (Can’t U Feel The Beat Of My Heart), Flesh And Blood and My Baby Knows.
4 Lust, formely a duet with Prince, was re-recorded with Martyn Ware of The Human League and Heaven 17 producing.
A video was filmed for the track Boom, Boom (Can’t U Feel The Beat Of My Heart) which was intented as the lead-off single, but the album could not be completed, as Prince and Jill Jones disagreed on the direction of the album; Jill Jones wanted to sing more mature songs than Prince was providing.
Her contract with Paisley Park Records was due to expire in april 1993. However, she worked with non-Prince camp artists during the remainder of it.
Jill collaborated with Nile Rodgers on a song for the "Earth Girls Are Easy" Soundtrack and with Japanese avant-garde musician Ryuichi Sakamoto on the track "You Do Me," for his album Beauty, released in 1989.