The two sides of Prince. Prince is very much a dichotomy. On the one hand, he appears very quiet, shy, and reserved. And at times, very religious. Then, the musical, creative, performing side. He explodes on stage as a performer and expresses his wilder side within his music and playing.
Alicia Keys described it best. There are many kings..but only one Prince.
Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to John L. Nelson and Mattie Shaw. Prince's father was a pianist and songwriter and his mother was a jazz singer. Prince was named after his father, whose stage name was Prince Rogers, and who performed with a jazz group called the Prince Rogers Trio.
In a 1991 interview with A Current Affair, Prince's father said, "I named my son Prince because I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do."
Prince also said that "my mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, 'Mom, I'm not going to be sick anymore,' and she said 'Why?' and I said 'Because an angel told me so.' "
As a child, Prince was epileptic.
He has produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. Prince founded his own recording studio and label. He writes, produces and plays most, or all, of the instruments on his recordings. In addition, Prince has been a "talent promoter" for the careers of many artists.
His songs have been recorded by these artists and others including:
Rolling Stone has ranked Prince No.27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Prince's artistic influences include
Sly & the Family Stone
Johnny "Guitar" Watson
As well as Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, the Isley Brothers, Duke Ellington, Curtis Mayfield, and Stevie Wonder.
Prince pioneered the "Minneapolis sound", a hybrid mixture of funk, rock, pop, R&B and New Wave that has influenced many other musicians.
According to the Rolling Stone Album Guide, "the Minneapolis sound... loomed over mid-'80s R&B and pop, not to mention the next two decades' worth of electro, house, and techno."
Prince's third album Dirty Mind from 1980 also gives credit. Pepe Willie, who brought his brand of music to Minneapolis from Brooklyn, New York, in the mid-70's, is credited with being the first to bring Prince into the studio professionally to play on his group, 94 East's, demo.
Prince has a wide vocal range and is known for his flamboyant stage presence and costumes.
Prince's sister Tika Evene (usually called Tyka) was born in 1960. Both siblings developed a keen interest in music, and this was encouraged by their father. Prince wrote his first tune, "Funk Machine" on his father's piano when he was seven.
Prince's parents then separated when Prince was ten years old. Following their separation, Prince constantly switched homes. Sometimes he lived with his father, and sometimes with his stepfather. Finally he moved into the home of a neighbor, the Andersons, and befriended their son, Andre Anderson who later became known as André Cymone.
Prince and Anderson joined Prince's cousin, Charles Smith, in a band called Grand Central while they were attending Minneapolis's Central High School. Smith was later replaced by Morris Day on the drums. Prince played piano and guitar for the band which performed at clubs and parties in the Minneapolis area. Grand Central later changed its name to Champagne and started playing original music.
In 1976, Prince created a demo tape with producer Chris Moon in Moon's Minneapolis studio. Unable to secure a recording contract, Moon brought the tape to Minneapolis businessman Owen Husney. Husney signed Prince, at the age of 17, to a management contract and helped Prince create a demo recording.
With the help of Husney, Prince signed a recording contract with Warner Bros..Prince's first album, For You, was recorded and released in 1978.
In 1975, Pepe Willie, the husband of Prince's cousin, Shauntel, formed the band 94 East. Willie hired Andre Cymone and Prince to record tracks with 94 East. Those songs were written by Willie and Prince contributed guitar tracks. Prince also co-wrote, with Willie, the 94 East song, "Just Another Sucker". The band recorded tracks which later became the album Minneapolis Genius – The Historic 1977 Recordings. Prince also recorded, but never released, a song written by Willie, "If You See Me" (also known as, "Do Yourself A Favor")
According to the For You album notes, Prince produced, arranged, composed and played all 27 instruments on the recording. The album was written and performed by Prince, except for the song "Soft and Wet" which had lyrics co-written by Moon.
The cost of recording the album was twice Prince's initial advance. Prince used the Prince's Music Co. to publish his songs. "Soft and Wet" reached No. 12 on the Hot Soul Singles chart and No. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song "Just as Long as We're Together" reached No.91 on the Hot Soul Singles chart.
In October 1979, Prince released a self-titled album, Prince, which was No.4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Black Albums charts, and No.22 on the Billboard 200, going platinum. It contained two R&B hits:
"Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?"
"I Wanna Be Your Lover".
"I Wanna Be Your Lover" sold over a million copies, and reached No.11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No.1 for two weeks on the Hot Soul Singles chart.
Prince was also the opening act for Rick James' 1980 Fire it Up tour.
Dirty Mind contained sexually explicit material, including the title song, "Head", and the song "Sister".
In February 1981, Prince made his first appearance on Saturday Night Live, performing "Partyup".
In October 1981, Prince released the album, Controversy. He played several dates in support of it, at first as one of the opening acts for The Rolling Stones, who were then on tour in the U.S. He began 1982 with a small tour of college towns where he was the headlining act.
In 1981, Prince formed a side project band called The Time. The band released four albums between 1981 and 1990, with Prince writing and performing most of the instrumentation and backing vocals, with lead vocals by Morris Day.
In late 1982, Prince released a double album, 1999, which sold over three million copies The title track was a protest against nuclear proliferation and became his first top ten hit in countries outside the U.S. Prince's "Little Red Corvette" was one of the first videos by a black artist played in heavy rotation on MTV.
The song "Delirious" also placed in the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Prince's 1984 album Purple Rain sold more than thirteen million copies in the U.S. and spent twenty-four consecutive weeks at No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart. the album is ranked 72nd Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The film of the same name won an Academy Award and grossed more than $80 million in the U.S.
"The Kid" (Prince) is an aspiring and talented, but troubled Minneapolis musician with a difficult home life. He meets a singer named Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero), and they become involved in an untidy romance. The plot centers on Prince trying not to repeat the pattern of his abusive father,and keep his band, The Revolution, and his relationship with Apollonia, together. His main antagonist is fellow musician Morris Day and his group The Time.
"Darling Nikki"was originally released on his Grammy Award-winning 1984 album, Purple Rain. Though the song was not released as a single, it gained wide notoriety for its sexual lyrics. Partly because of the lyrical content of "Darling Nikki", Tipper Gore founded the Parents Music Resource Center,which eventually led to the use of "Parental Advisory" stickers and imprints on album covers. Compared with the slick production of the other songs on the album, Darling Nikki was deliberately engineered to have a raw, live feel.
In 1985 Prince announced that he would discontinue live performances and music videos after the release of his next album. His subsequent recording Around the World in a Day held the No.1 spot on the Billboard 200 for three weeks.
In 1986 his album Parade reached No.3 on the Billboard 200 and No.2 on the R&B charts. The first single, "Kiss", reached No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The album Parade served as the soundtrack for Prince's second film, Under the Cherry Moon.
Under the Cherry Moon is a 1986 film directed by and starring Prince as a gigolo named Christopher Tracy and Time member Jerome Benton as his partner, Tricky. Together, the pair swindle wealthy French women. The situation gets complicated when Christopher falls in love with heiress Mary Sharon (Kristin Scott Thomas) after planning to swindle her when he finds out that she receives a $50 million trust fund on her 21st birthday.
Prior to the disbanding of The Revolution, Prince was working on two separate projects, The Revolution album Dream Factory and a solo effort, Camille. Prince consolidated material from both shelved albums, along with some new songs, into a three-LP album to be titled Crystal Ball. However, following the low sales of his previous two albums, Warner Bros. forced Prince to trim the triple album to a double album and Sign o' the Times was released on March 31, 1987.
The album peaked at No.6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart..The first single, "Sign o' the Times", would chart at No.3 on the Hot 100. The follow-up single, "If I Was Your Girlfriend" charted poorly at No.67 on the Hot 100, but went to No.12 on R&B chart.
The third single, a duet with Sheena Easton, "U Got the Look" charted at No.2 on the Hot 100, No.11 on the R&B chart
and the final single "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" finished at No.10 on Hot 100 and No.14 on the R&B chart.
The film Sign o' the Times was released on November 20, 1987. Much like the album, the film garnered more critical praise than the previous year's Under the Cherry Moon; however, its box office receipts were minimal, and it quickly left theaters.
The next album intended for release was to be The Black Album. More instrumental and funk and R&B themed than recent releases, The Black Album also saw Prince experiment with hip hop music on the songs "Bob George" and "Dead on It." Prince was set to release the album with a monochromatic black cover with only the catalog number printed, but after 500,000 copies had been pressed, Prince had a spiritual epiphany that the album was evil and had it recalled. It would later be released by Warner Bros. as a limited edition album in 1994.
Prince went back in the studio for eight weeks and recorded Lovesexy.
Released on May 10, 1988, Lovesexy serves as a spiritual opposite to the dark The Black Album. Every song is a solo effort by Prince, with exception of "Eye No" which was recorded with his backing band at the time, dubbed the "Lovesexy Band" by fans. Lovesexy would reach No.11 on the Billboard 200 and No.5 on the R&B albums chart. The lead single, "Alphabet St.", peaked at No.8 on the Hot 100 and No.3 on the R&B chart, but finished with only selling 750,000 copies.
In 1989, Prince appeared on Madonna's studio album Like a Prayer, co-writing and singing the duet "Love Song"
He was asked by Batman director Tim Burton to record several songs for the upcoming live-action adaptation. Prince went into the studio and produced an entire nine-track album that Warner Bros. released on June 20, 1989. Batman peaked at No.1 on the Billboard 200, selling 4.3 million copies.The single "Batdance" topped the Billboard and R&B charts.
Additionally, the single "The Arms of Orion" with Sheena Easton charted at #36, and "Partyman" (also featuring the vocals of Prince's then-girlfriend, nicknamed Anna Fantastic) charted at No.18 on the Hot 100 and at No.5 on the R&B chart, while the love ballad "Scandalous!" went to No.5 on the R&B chart.. However, he did have to sign away all publishing rights to the songs on the album to Warner Bros. as part of the deal to do the soundtrack.
In 1990, As the year progressed, Prince finished production on his fourth film, Graffiti Bridge, and the album of the same name. Initially, Warner Bros. was reluctant to fund the film, but with Prince's assurances it would be a sequel to Purple Rain as well as the involvement of the original members of The Time, the studio greenlit the project.
The film, released on November 20, 1990, was a critical and box office flop, grossing just $4.2 million. After the release of the film and album, the last remaining members of The Revolution, Miko Weaver and Doctor Fink, left Prince's band.
Released on August 20, 1990, the album reached No.6 on the Billboard 200 and R&B albums chart. The single "Thieves in the Temple" reaching No.6 on the Hot 100 and No.1 on the R&B chart.
Also from that album, "Round and Round" placed at number 12 on the U.S. charts and Number 2 on the R&B charts.
1991 marked the debut of Prince's new band, The New Power Generation. With significant input from his band members, Diamonds and Pearls was released on October 1, 1991.
Reaching No.3 on the Billboard 200 album chart, Diamonds and Pearls saw 4 hit singles released in the United States.
"Diamonds and Pearls"
"Money Don't Matter 2 Night"
1992 saw Prince and The New Power Generation release his twelfth album, 'Love Symbol Album', bearing only an unpronounceable symbol on the cover (later copyrighted as Love Symbol #2). The album, generally referred to as the Love Symbol Album, would peak at No.5 on the Billboard 200. While the label wanted "7" to be the first single, Prince fought to have "My Name Is Prince" as he "felt that the song's more hip-hoppery would appeal to the same audience" that had purchased the previous album. Prince got his way but "My Name Is Prince" only managed to reach No.36 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No.23 on the R&B chart.
The follow-up single "Sexy MF" fared worse, charting at No.66 on the Hot 100 and No.76 on the R&B chart.
The label's preferred lead single choice "7" would be the album's lone top ten hit, reaching #7. 'Love Symbol Album' would go on to sell 2.8 million copies worldwide.
1993 also marked the year in which Prince changed his stage name to the Love Symbol, which is a combination of the symbols for male (♂) and female (♀). In order to use the symbol in print media, Warner Bros. had to organize a mass mailing of floppy disks with a custom font. Because the symbol is unpronounceable, he was often referred to as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince."
Prince pushed to have his next album The Gold Experience released simultaneously with Love Symbol-era material. Warner Bros. allowed the single "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" to be released via a small, independent distributor, Bellmark Records, in February 1994. The release was successful, reaching No.3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No.1 in many other countries, but it would not prove to be a model for subsequent releases.
When, free of any further contractual obligations to Warner Bros., he released Emancipation, a 36-song, 3-CD set (each disc was exactly 60 minutes long). The album was released via his own NPG Records with distribution through EMI. To publish his songs on Emancipation, Prince did not use Controversy Music – ASCAP, which he had used for all his records since 1981, but rather used Emancipated Music Inc. – ASCAP.
Emancipation is the first record featuring covers by Prince of songs of other artists: Joan Osborne's "One of Us"; "Betcha by Golly Wow!" "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "La-La (Means I Love You)"
On February 8, 2004, Prince appeared at the Grammy Awards with Beyoncé Knowles. In a performance that opened the show, Prince and Knowles performed a medley of "Purple Rain", "Let's Go Crazy", "Baby I'm a Star", and Knowles' "Crazy in Love" to positive reviews. The following month, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
As well as performing a trio of his own hits during the ceremony, Prince also participated in a tribute to fellow inductee George Harrison in a rendition of Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", playing a long guitar solo that ended the song. In addition, he performed "Purple House" on the album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city of New Orleans on August 29, 2005, Prince offered a personal response by recording two new songs, "S.S.T." and the instrumental "Brand New Orleans", at Paisley Park in the early hours of September 2. Prince again performed all instrumental and vocal parts.
In late 2005 Prince signed with Universal Records to release his album, 3121, The first single was the Latin-tinged "Te Amo Corazón", the video for which was directed by actress Salma Hayek and filmed in Marrakech, Morocco, featuring Argentine actress and singer Mía Maestro.
Prince wrote and performed a song for the hit 2006 animated film Happy Feet. The song, entitled "The Song of the Heart", appears on the film's soundtrack, which also features a cover of Prince's earlier hit "Kiss", sung by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. In January 2007, "The Song of the Heart" won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
Prince performed at the Super Bowl XLI halftime show in Miami, Florida on February 4, 2007. The event was carried to 140 million television viewers, the largest audience of his life. On February 4, 2010, Billboard.com ranked the performance as the greatest Super Bowl performance ever.
On April 25, 2008, Prince performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he debuted a new song, "Turn Me Loose".
Prince became a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses in 2001 following a two-year-long debate with friend and fellow Jehovah's Witness, musician Larry Graham. Prince said he didn't consider it a conversion, but a "realization"; Prince has reportedly needed double-hip-replacement surgery since 2005 but won't undergo the operation unless it is a bloodless surgery because Jehovah's Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions.
Prince is a vegetarian.
In 1993, during negotiations regarding the release of Prince's album The Gold Experience, a legal battle ensued between Warner Bros. and Prince over the artistic and financial control of Prince's output. During the lawsuit, Prince appeared in public with the word "slave" written on his cheek. Prince explained his name change as follows:
The first step I have taken toward the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros. was to change my name from Prince to the Love Symbol. Prince is the name that my mother gave me at birth. Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music that I wrote. The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros... I was born Prince and did not want to adopt another conventional name. The only acceptable replacement for my name, and my identity, was the Love Symbol, a symbol with no pronunciation, that is a representation of me and what my music is about. This symbol is present in my work over the years; it is a concept that has evolved from my frustration; it is who I am. It is my name.