Neon Telephone

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Neon Telephone

from the album Vermillion

single art for Neon Telephone
Song details
Performer: Three O’Clock
First Released: 24 May 1988 - Vermillion album
Album(s): Vermillion
Writer(s): Prince (as Joey Coco)
Producer(s): Ian Ritchie
Live Appearances
First and last live appearance:
  • This track is not believed to have been performed live by Prince.
Performed regularly on tour:
  • none
Performed occasionally in shows:
  • none

Neon Telephone is the sixth track on Three O’Clock’s first and only Paisley Park Records album Vermillion (their fourth and final album), and soon after the album’s release, Neon Telephone was released as the album’s second single (which also turned out to be the band’s final single). Writing credit is given to Joey Coco, a pseudonym used on a few 1985-7 songs given to other artists (including You’re My Love, Telepathy and Baby Go-Go).

Basic tracking took place on 10 July 1985 at the Washington Avenue Warehouse in Edina, Minnesota (two days after ♥ Or $, Girls & Boys and Alexa De Paris, the same day as God Is Everywhere). It was initially considered for use on Parade and/or Under The Cherry Moon but was instead saved for later use (it did, however, inspire the use of a neon telephone in Christopher Tracy’s apartment in the movie Under The Cherry Moon).

It was sent to Three O’Clock for consideration along with Girl O’ My Dreams, We Can Funk, Teacher, Teacher and Can’t Stop This Feeling I Got, but the band decided to use only this track. Three O’Clock’s vocal overdubs and instrumentation were recorded in 1987 - early 1988 at American Recording, Woodland Hills, California. Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman re-recorded their background vocals during this session with Three O’Clock.

Recording Information
Recording Sessions
Date Studio Additional info
10, 11, 13, 17 (estimate) &
18 July 1985 (estimate)
Washington Avenue Warehouse,
Edina, MN, USA
Tracking, overdubs, mix (10th); vocal overdubs, mix (11th); overdubs, mix (13th); overdubs, mix (17th); mix (18th)
12 - 14 January 1986 Sunset Sound- Studio 3,
Hollywood, CA, USA
New mix (12th); mix & mix [instrumental] (13th & 14th)
17 June 1986 Washington Avenue Warehouse,
Edina, MN, USA
1987 - early 1988 American Recording,
Woodland Hills, CA, USA
Three O’Clock re-recording
(no Prince input)
Recording Personnel

Three O’Clock version

Unreleased version

Released Versions
Title Length Released Version Additional info
Neon Telephone 3:56 Vermillion

Neon Telephone single

Neon Telephone (Extended 12" Version) 6:28 Neon Telephone single Extended Version

Unreleased Versions
Title Version Additional Info
Neon Telephone (instrumental) Studio Initial version as instrumental
Neon Telephone Studio Prince’s original studio version
Neon Telephone Studio Alternate take of Prince’s original studio version
Additional Information

See also Trivia

  • Neon Telephone inspired the use of a neon telephone in Christopher Tracy’s apartment in the movie Under The Cherry Moon.
  • According to Lisa Coleman, Prince "had a hard time finding just the right home for it, (going) from artist to artist in his own camp – always female – to other bands, so I thought it was funny that then it ended up being done by The Three O’ Clock, who were all boys". The female artists to whom Prince had offered the track are not identified.

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