Eddie Murphy Says Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, And Prince Are “Cautionary Tales” For Him; Here’s Why (Video)

BY Dora Abena Dzaka July 6, 2024 5:49 PM EDT

Eddie Murphy recently spoke with The New York Times for an episode of its podcast, The Interview.

During the discussion, David Marchese, the host of the podcast remarked that Murphy was, in his career, as hot early as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Prince, all of whom died prematurely and, in some cases, from overdose.

Murphy answered by saying, “Those guys are all cautionary tales for me,” adding that he does not drink. 

“I smoked my first joint when I was 30 years old.” He recalled visiting the Blues Bar at the age of 19.

“It was me, [John] Belushi, and Robin Williams. They started using coke, and I said, ‘No, I’m fine.’I wasn’t taking a moral stance. I wasn’t interested in it. I’d think that not having the urge or curiosity is a sign of providence. God was watching over me at the time.”

Murphy made his Saturday Night Live debut at the age of 19, in December 1980. His fame immediately grew beyond the show.

In August 1982, Murphy released his debut comedy album. That same year, his debut movie, 48 Hours, co-starring Nick Nolte hit the screens. 

June 1983 saw the release of Trading Places, in which he co-starred with Dan Aykroyd from SNL and in December 1984, Beverly Hills Cop, which he carried solo, was released. 

The comedian was only 21 years old when he received his first Grammy nominations for best comedy album and best R&B instrumental performance for Boogie in Your Butt, the album’s novelty track.

He won a Grammy the following year for his second album, Eddie Murphy: Comedian.

At 22, he received his first Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy, Variety, or Music Series for SNL. 

The next year, he garnered two additional Primetime Emmy nominations for his acting and writing. 

His first Oscar nomination came in 2006 for best-supporting actor in Dreamgirls. He finally received his first Emmy in 2020 for returning to SNL as a guest host. 

Murphy, 63, has already lived longer than Elvis, Jackson, and Prince.  All four of these performers became superstars at an early age. 

Jackson was only 11 years old when The Jackson 5 hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with I Want You Back.

In 1973, at just 14 years old, he performed his solo smash Ben at the Academy Awards, where it was nominated for Best Original Song.

Presley was 21 years old in 1956 when he released his first chart-topping single, Heartbreak Hotel

Prince was also 21 years old when he received his first platinum album and gold single, I Wanna Be Your Lover.

Murphy later stated that becoming famous at a young age, particularly as a black musician, maybe like living in a minefield.

“Now, at my age, I can look back and say, ‘Wow, I went through a minefield for 35 years’. How do you make it through a minefield for 35 or 40 years? “Something has to be watching over you. This business isn’t built up for black artists. It was a new experience for me. I was doing things no one had ever done before, and I was doing them in a business that was not designed for me. It’s set up for a white dude. So you don’t have someone keeping watch over your back, and you don’t have any support groups.”

Murphy also noted how his great success has influenced how comedy performers, particularly black performers, are perceived.

“The comic used to be the sidekick, the opening act, and I changed it so that the comic could be the main attraction,” he explained.

“They thought of comics in one manner, and it was like, no, a comic could sell out an arena and be in a hundred-million-dollar film. All of that changed and with black actors, it was possible for the black man to be the star of the film, and it did not have to be a black exploitation film. But a film that is accessible to people all across the world.”

Photo credit: Instagram @Eddie Murphy

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