Richard Pryor is on an odd personal list of performers whom I like or admire, but I don’t possess a single copy of their work. There are many reasons why I haven’t bought a Pryor album. At first, it was because I just didn’t enjoy hearing the kind of language he used on his routine (that’s, there’s little prude hidden beneath my Rabelaisian exterior). Then, when I was in college and playing novelty records on the radio, it’s for sure I couldn’t play any of his records on the air. By that point, Pryor had gone on to movies and concert films, and the last era for comedy albums had passed.
I liked Pryor in the movies I saw of him, realizing that, of course, he had just a poorly written character in "Superman III." But I knew that wasn’t what he was famous for. Sometimes I’d catch one of his live standup movies on TV, but always on a basic cable channel where it’d be heavily censored.
Yet I was pretty well aware of his role in the history of comedy and to American culture.
(And here’s a bit of trivia I learned from Mel Brooks’ commentary on the "Blazing Saddles" DVD: It’s well-known that Brooks wanted Pryor for the lead in the movie, but the studio balked because Pryor was a controversial figure. So Brooks had him co-write the script with him instead. According to Mel, Pryor wrote the funny bits for Mongo and other white chracters, while Brooks wrote most of the black characters, and the result is as you see on the screen.)
Another performer I admire but don’t collect would be Willie Nelson. At first because I simply didn’t like his chosen genre. Now it would be because I simply don’t know how to jump in. Buy all the original albums or be satisfied with greatest-hits collections. And you’ll notice nowadays that most veteran musical performers’ greatest hits can be had in the form of one CD, 2 CDs, or a four CD box set. Then they come out with a new box set with a DVD included. It gives me a headache. Just when when I finally started buying Dylan on CD, and then they finally released remastered versions of the albums I’d just bought. Makes my widdle head spin.