Prince Rogers Nelson
(born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis,
Minnesota) is an American musician. He performs under the mononymous
name of Prince
, but has also been known by various other
names, among them an unpronounceable symbol, leading fans and
critics to dub him The Artist Formerly Known As Prince
simply The Artist
Prince is a prolific artist, having
released several hundred songs both under his own name and with
other artists. He has won six Grammy Awards and an Academy Award,
and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. In
2004, he was named as the top male pop artist of the past 25 years
by ARC Rock on the Net,
and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Prince #28 on their list of the
100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
From his early material, rooted in R&B, soul and funk, Prince has
expanded his musical palette throughout his career, absorbing many
other genres including pop, rock, jazz, new wave, psychedelia and
hip hop. Some of his primary influences include Sly Stone, Curtis
Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic
and Carlos Santana. The distinctive characteristics of his
early-to-mid 1980s work, such as sparse and industrial-sounding drum
machine arrangements and the use of synthesizer riffs to serve the
role traditionally occupied by horn riffs in earlier R&B, funk and
soul music, were called the "Minneapolis sound" and have proved very
Uptown: Early years
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 7 June
1958, to John L. Nelson and Matti Shaw.
John was a pianist and songwriter, and Mattie was a singer. He is
named after the Prince Rogers Trio, his father's jazz band, and as a
boy he was called Skipper.
There are a number of myths regarding Prince's ethnicity. In
fact, both his parents were African-American.Rolling Stone magazine
article, it affirms Shaw as "a singer sixteen years John's junior,
Mattie bore traces of Billie Holiday in her pipes and more than a
trace Indian." His mother, is African-American, Italian American and
Jewish. After the birth of his sister Tyka in 1960, Prince's parents
gradually drifted apart. After they formally separated, he had a
troubled relationship with his stepfather that resulted in his
running away from home. Prince lived briefly with his father, who
bought him his first guitar, and later he moved in with a
neighbourhood family, the Andersons, befriending their son, Andre
Anderson (later called André Cymone).
Prince, like many African-Americans is an amalgam of different
According to a 12 September 1985
Prince and Anderson joined Prince's cousin Charles Smith in a
band called Grand Central that they formed in junior high school.
His initial contributions were as an instrumentalist in what was a
mainly instrumental band that played clubs and parties in the
Minneapolis area. As time went by and Prince's musical interests
broadened, he found himself producing the arrangements for the band.
Before long he became the band's front man. By the time Prince
entered high school, Grand Central evolved into Champagne and
started playing original music already drawing on a range of
influences including Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, Earth Wind
& Fire, Miles Davis, Parliament-Funkadelic, Carlos Santana and Jimi
Hendrix. At one point Prince was a student at the Minnesota Dance
In 1976, he started work on a demo tape with producer Chris Moon
in a Minneapolis studio. Prince also had the patronage of Owen
Husney (of The High Spirits), to whom Moon introduced him, a
connection that helped him produce a high-quality demo recording.
Husney started contacting major labels and ran a campaign promoting
Prince as a star of the future, resulting in a bidding war
eventually won by Warner Bros. Records. They offered him a contract
and were the only label to give Prince creative control of his
First steps: 1977—1980
Pepe Willie, husband of Prince's cousin, Shantel, was an
influence in Prince's early career. Along with Husney, Willie acted
as mentor and manager for Prince in the Grand Central days, and he
employed Prince in the studio for his own recordings. In 1977,
Willie formed 94 East, a band with Marcy Ingvoldstad and Kristie
Lazenberry. 94 East comprised a group of singers and musicians that
included Andre Cymone and Prince. Prince composed the music for
Willie's lyrics and typically played guitar and keyboards in the
studio. He wrote many songs for the group, including "Just Another
Sucker." The band recorded an album, Minneapolis Genius – The
Historic 1977 Recordings. Although it was not a solo album and
was not commercially released until many years later, it is
considered Prince's first professional album. For unknown reasons,
Prince does not acknowledge the existence of this album. In 1995,
the original recordings with Prince and Cymone were released by
Willie as 94 East featuring Prince, Symbolic Beginning.
Prince released his first album, For You, on 7 April 1978.
For You was the first major-label album released by Prince,
his first of many for Warner Bros. Tommy Vicari was the executive
producer. This album, like most of his career, was not recorded with
a band; Prince purportedly played all 27 instruments on the album
though they were different types of string, percussion, and keyboard
The majority of For You was written and performed by
Prince, except for the song "Soft and Wet" (lyrics co-written by
Moon). This was the first of Prince's albums containing the now
ubiquitous legend: "Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed by
Prince." Prince spent twice his initial advance recording the album,
which sold modestly and made the bottom reaches of the Billboard
200, while the single "Soft and Wet" performed well on the R&B
charts. Prince used Prince's Music Co. for publishing the
songs from this album. The single reached #12 on the Soul chart and
#92 on the pop chart. "Just as Long as We're Together" flopped at
#91 on the soul chart.
By 1979, Prince had recruited his first backing band featuring
Andre Cymone (Anderson) on bass, Gayle Chapman and Doctor Fink on
keyboards, Bobby Z on drums, and Dez Dickerson on guitar. Prince
intentionally enlisted a multi-racial, mixed-gender group, much like
the backing band of one of his greatest influences, Sly Stone. They
had their first shows at the Capri Theatre on 5 and 6 January, 1979.
Reportedly, Prince mostly mumbled into the microphone, whilst Dez
and Andre ran back and forth into the audience. Warner executives
were at the second show, which was plagued with electrical
difficulties and a snowstorm, and decided Prince had promise but the
band needed more time to gel before it could tour. This was just
after their gear was stolen from their rehearsal base at Dels Tyre
In October 1979, Prince released his self-titled second album
Prince, which reached #4 on the Billboard R&B charts, and
contained two R&B hits: "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I
Wanna Be Your Lover." These two R&B hits were performed on 26
January 1980, on the TV show American Bandstand with this
first backing band. Legend has it that Prince became annoyed when,
during the interview segment, Dick Clark expressed surprise that
Prince and his band mates hailed from Minneapolis "of all places."
At first Prince refused to speak, instead answering a question by
gesturing with his hand. It was later admitted by Dez Dickerson that
it was planned from the beginning as a way to throw Dick Clark off
his game. Dickerson was quoted as saying, "Great. We're illiterate,
but we play well." For his second album, Prince used Ecnirp Music
– BMI for
publishing his songs, which he would also use for the album Dirty
Mind. Prince has been certified gold status; the single
"I Wanna Be Your Lover" reached #1 on the R&B charts, also hitting
#11 on the Billboard Top 100 American pop charts. This became known
as one of his greatest hits.
||Prince Rogers Nelson
||7 June 1958 (1958-06-07)
||Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
||Pop, rock, R&B, funk
||Singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, actor,
||Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, piano,
keyboards, drums, percussion, Linn Drum
||NPG, Columbia, Universal, Arista, Paisley Park,
||The Revolution; Wendy and Lisa
New Power Generation
The Time; Morris Day
Vanity 6; Apollonia 6
Controversy era: 1980—1984
In 1980, Prince released Dirty Mind, again entirely
self-recorded and released using the demos of the songs. On tour,
Lisa Coleman replaced Chapman in the band, who felt the sexually
explicit lyrics and stage antics of Prince's concerts conflicted
with her religious beliefs. Dirty Mind is particularly
notable for its sexually explicit material.
Prince opened for Rick James in a 1980 tour with the label "punk
funk" being applied to both artists, although it reportedly didn't
sit comfortably with Prince. He released the album Controversy
in 1981, with the single of the same name charting internationally
for the first time. In February of 1981, Prince performed "Partyup"
on the now-infamous season six episode of Saturday Night Live hosted
by Charlene Tilton that brought Jean Doumanian's lackluster tenure
as executive producer down when cast member Charles Rocket uttered
the word "fuck" at the end of the program. Starting with the album
Controversy, Prince used Controversy Music
– ASCAP for publishing his songs, which he would use for his
following sixteen records until Emancipation in 1996.
During this period, Prince began to attract attention for the
clothes he wore onstage. He wore high-heeled shoes and boots and
tended to flaunt and express an intense sexuality onstage in
addition to in his music, using symbols associated with androgyny
and as a result, people began questioning his sexual orientation.
His stylistic choices brought him trouble as an opening act for The
Rolling Stones' two Los Angeles Coliseum shows in 1981, where he was
infamously pelted with garbage while wearing bikini briefs, leg
warmers, high-heeled boots, and a trench coat, in addition to being
booed off the stage for his wardrobe. These shows occurred just
before the release of Controversy and also when he was
breaking in his new bassist Mark Brown (later BrownMark), who was
then just 18 and out of high school.
In 1981, Prince formed a "side project"(a problematic label given
that his band was only used for performance, not recording sessions)
band called The Time. Prince was able to do this thanks to a clause
in his contract with Warner Bros. The Time released four albums
between 1981 and 1990, with Prince writing and performing all
instruments and backing vocals throughout. The band's vocals were
led by Morris Day.
In the coming decade, Prince would also collaborate with Vanity
(of Vanity 6), Apollonia (of Apollonia 6) and Sheila E. He also
wrote hits for artists such as Sheena Easton ("Sugar Walls"), Celine
Dion (as she talked about in an interview with Arsenio Hall in
1993), and The Bangles ("Manic Monday"). Prince's own recordings
would be covered in hit versions by artists as diverse as Chaka Khan
("I Feel For You"), Sheena Easton ("Eternity"), Mariah Carey, Art of
Noise with Tom Jones, and Sinéad O'Connor ("Nothing Compares 2 U").
O'Connor's cover, originally written by Prince for The Family, was a
huge commercial success in 1990.
In 1982, Prince released the 1999 double-album which
"broke" Prince into the mainstream in the US and internationally,
selling over three million copies.
The title track was a protest against nuclear proliferation and
became his first top ten hit internationally. With his video for
"Little Red Corvette" he joined Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie as
part of the first wave of African American artists on MTV. The song
"Delirious" also went top ten on the Billboard Hot 100. The album
was placed at number six in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop
critics poll for 1983.
Around this time Prince began crediting his band as The
Revolution, which consisted of Dez Dickerson on guitar, Lisa Coleman
and Doctor Fink on keyboards, Bobby Z. on drums, and Brown Mark on
bass. The band's name was printed in reverse on the cover of 1999;
Prince refrained using the name "The Revolution" until Dickerson
left the band for personal reasons. Dickerson was replaced by Wendy
Melvoin, a childhood friend of Lisa. The band members were known for
being solid musicians and a strong live act, but their talents would
be used sparsely in the studio. Their presence in Prince's
recordings, however, would increase through the mid-1980s.
During this period, Prince recorded many acclaimed b-sides—songs
that were previously released on the b-side of a single that were,
at times, "throwaway" songs—becoming popular songs in their own
right. Some greats and fan favorites include "How Come You Don't
Call Me Anymore," b-side for "1999"; "Erotic City," b-side for
"Let's Go Crazy"; and "17 Days," b-side for "When Doves Cry."
Several of these b-sides were covered by mainstream artists,
including Alicia Keys and Living Colour.
Prince's 1984 album, Purple Rain (concurrent with the film
of the same name) sold more than thirteen million copies in the US
and spent twenty-four consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200.
The Academy Award-winning film grossed more than $80 million in the
US alone, and has proved to be Prince's biggest cinematic success to
Two songs from Purple Rain, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go
Crazy," topped the US pop singles charts and were hits around the
world, while the title track reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Prince simultaneously held the spots #1 film, #1 single, and #1
album in the US. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song
Score for "Purple Rain," and the album ranks at 72 in the top 100 of
Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list;
the album is also listed in The All-TIME 100 Albums
of TIME Magazine.
It was the album's song "Darling Nikki" to which Tipper Gore
overheard her twelve-year-old daughter, Karenna, listening that
inspired her to found the Parents Music Resource Center.
The centre has enacted the mandatory use of a warning label
("Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics") on the covers of records that
have been judged to contain language or lyrical content unsuitable
In 1985, after the U.S. Purple Rain Tour, which was a
smash hit in the US and Canada, Prince announced that he would
discontinue both live performances and music videos after the
release of Around the World in a Day, which held the #1 spot
on the Billboard 200 album chart for three weeks. Prince's ban on
music videos supposedly ended when the album stalled in the charts
and, after a video for "Raspberry Beret," then reached number two on
the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1986, Prince released the album Parade. The album went
to #3 on the Billboard 200 album chart and #2 on the R&B album
charts. The first single, "Kiss," would top the Billboard Hot 100.
At the same time, "Manic Monday" by The Bangles, which Prince had
written under the pseudonym "Christopher Tracy," reached #2 on the
Christopher Tracy was the name of Prince's character in the movie
"Under The Cherry Moon," for which Parade served as a
soundtrack. Prince both directed and starred in the movie, and it
also featured Kristen Scott Thomas as Mary Sharon in her first movie
role. She would go on to star in such films as "The English
Patient." Following the film and album, Prince returned to touring
with a stripped-down show. After a few isolated dates (dubbed "the
Hit and Run Tour") in the United States, he embarked on his first
full scale European Tour in the summer of 1986. He closed the tour
in September in Japan, his first appearances in the country.
At the end of the tour, Prince disbanded The Revolution, although
retaining band member Matt Fink on keyboard. Added to the backing
band was Boni Boyer on keyboards, Sheila E on drums, Levi Seacer,
Jr. on bass, and Miko Weaver on guitar.
Sign o' the Times, released in 1987 as a double album,
reached the Top Ten of the Billboard 200 and achieved the greatest
critical acclaim of his career, topping the annual and highly
reputable Pazz & Jop critics poll, reaching the top 100 of
Rolling Stone's list
and The All-TIME 100 Albums
of TIME Magazine, which declared it was the best album of the
1980s. Following the album's release, Prince launched the Sign o'
the Times Tour in Europe. 1987 saw the potential for two of
pop's biggest stars coming together to perform a duet. Michael
Jackson talked with Prince about performing a duet together for the
title track of his new album Bad. Jackson and Prince ended up
having creative differences, however, and Jackson recorded the title
track for the album alone.
In 1987, Prince planned to release The Black Album, a
funk-oriented album whose erotically-charged lyrics and club-focused
beats were perceived by many as his attempt to woo back the black
audience he was supposed to have lost as a result of his mid-80s
forays into pop, hard rock, and psychedelic rock. In reality, the
album was a collection of tracks recorded during the previous few
years, some of which had initially been recorded for Sheila E's
birthday party in 1986.
The album remains legendary in Prince's career after its release
was cancelled at the artist's behest mere days before its release
date. Though many already manufactured copies were supposed to be
destroyed, several escaped and became the source for numerous
bootleg editions. The album circulated through the bootleg
underground music world and was not given an official release until
1994. Prince later attributed his eleventh-hour request for the
album to be pulled from release to "a spiritual epiphany," but there
are rumours that this epiphany was actually the result of a bad
experience with the drug Ecstasy.
The 1988 album Lovesexy is considered Prince's "spiritual"
answer to the "dark" The Black Album. Lovesexy
performed disappointingly on the US charts, reaching only #11 on the
Billboard 200, but it reached #1 in the UK. (One track from The
Black Album, "When 2 R in Love," also appeared on Lovesexy.)
The US leg of the Lovesexy World Tour also proved to be commercial
disappointment: Prince lost money as dates failed to sell out. He
did balance this poor performance with the European and Japanese
legs of the tour.
In 1989, Prince provided and released the soundtrack for
Batman, which returned him to #1 on the US album charts. The
worldwide hit-single "Batdance" reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100,
while another track, "Partyman," featuring the vocals of his then
girlfriend "Anna Garcia"
became a popular song with the film's audiences.
In 1990, Prince released the film Graffiti Bridge, a
sequel to Purple Rain that performed poorly at the box
office. The soundtrack to "Graffiti Bridge" featured Prince along
with artists such as Tevin Campbell, Mavis Staples of the Staple
Singers, and Morris Day with his other band and project, The Time.
It would peak at #6 in the US and reach #1 in the UK. He also
collaborated with Madonna on her Like a Prayer album for the
song entitled "Love Song."
The release of Diamonds and Pearls 1991 gave Prince his
fifth US number one single with the song "Cream." Diamonds and
Pearls debuted Prince's new band, the New Power Generation, that
featured rapper Tony M., Rosie Gaines on vocals, Michael Bland on
drums, Levi Seacer on guitar, Sonny T on bass, and Tommy Barbarella
1993 found Prince working significantly on Kate Bush's 1993
album, The Red Shoes; her name appears in the credits of his
Diamonds and Pearls album. Prince chiefly contributed on the
song "Why Should I Love You," playing bass, guitar, and keyboards,
singing vocals, and arranging music for the mix. This would be the
final "Prince" credit, until 2000. Kate Bush reciprocated in 1996
and is featured on background vocals on the Emancipation
track, "My Computer."
Prince's twelfth album was titled with an unpronounceable symbol
(later copyrighted as Love Symbol #2).
It reached the top ten of the U.S. album charts. In 1993, he also
changed his stage name to the Love Symbol, which is a combination of
the symbols for male (♂) and female (♀). Because the symbol was/is
unpronounceable, he was often referred to as "Symbol," "The Artist
Formerly Known as Prince," or simply "The Artist." In 1993, at the
request of Warner Brothers, Prince released a 3-CD greatest hits
compilation entitled The Hits/The B-Sides. The first two
discs were also sold separately as The Hits 1 and The Hits
2. In addition to featuring the majority of Prince's hit singles
(with the exception of "Batdance," which was omitted), The Hits
includes an array of previously hard-to-find recordings, notably
B-sides spanning the majority of Prince's career, as well as a
handful of previously unreleased tracks such as the
Revolution-recorded "Power Fantastic." Two new songs, first "Pink
Cashmere" and then "Peach," were chosen as promotional singles to
accompany the compilation album. Unfortunately, neither the album
nor singles performed as well in sales as Warner Bros. had hoped,
however, The Hits offers arguably the most thorough overview
of Prince's musical output from 1978–1993.
In 1994, Prince's attitude towards his artistic output underwent
a notable shift. He began to view releasing albums in quick
succession as a means of ejecting himself from his contractual
obligations to Warner Bros. The label, he believed, was intent on
limiting his artistic freedom by insisting that he release albums
more sporadically. He also blamed Warner Bros. for the poor
commercial performance of the Love Symbol album, claiming
that it was insufficiently marketed by Warner. It was out of these
developments that the aborted The Black Album was officially
released, approximately seven years after its initial recording and
near-release. The "new" release, which was already in wide
circulation as a bootleg, sold relatively poorly.
Following that disappointing venture, Warner Bros. succumbed to
Prince's wishes to release an album of new material, to be entitled
Come. When Come was eventually released, it confirmed
all of Warner's fears. It became Prince's poorest-selling album to
date, struggling to even shift 500,000 copies. Even more frustrating
was the fact that Prince insisted on crediting the album to "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 #3 on the US
Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in many other countries, but it would not
prove to be a model for subsequent releases. Warner Bros. still
resisted releasing The Gold Experience, fearing poor sales
and citing "market saturation" as a defense. When eventually
released in September 1995, The Gold Experience failed to
sell well, although it reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200
initially, and many reviewed it as Prince's best effort since
Sign o' the Times. The album is now out-of-print.
Chaos and Disorder, released in 1996, was Prince's final
album of new material for Warner Bros., as well as one of his least
commercially successful releases. Prince attempted a major comeback
later that year when, free of any further contractual obligations to
Warner Bros., he released Emancipation. The album was
released via his own NPG Records with distribution through EMI. To
publish his songs in Emancipation, Prince did not use
Controversy Music – ASCAP, which he had used for all his
records since 1981, but rather used Emancipated Music Inc.
While certified platinum by the RIAA, some critics felt that the
sprawling 36-song, 3-CD set (each disk was exactly 60 minutes long)
lacked focus, and might have worked better as a single or double
Emancipation is the first record featuring covers by Prince
of songs of other artists: Joan Osborne's Top Ten hit song of 1995
"One of Us."
"Betcha By Golly Wow!" (written by Thomas Randolf Bell and Linda
Creed); "I Can't
Make You Love Me" (written by James Allen Shamblin II and Michael
Barry Reid); and
"La-La Means I Love You" (written by Thomas Randolf Bell and William
Prince released Crystal Ball, a 4-CD collection of
unreleased material, in 1998. The distribution of this album was
disorderly, with some fans pre-ordering the album on his website up
to a year before it was eventually shipped to them, and months after
the record had gone on sale in retail stores. The Newpower Soul
album released three months later failed to make much of an
impression on the charts. His collaboration with Chaka Khan, Come
2 My House released on the NPG Records label, met with the same
In 1999, Prince once again signed with a major label Arista
Records to release a new record, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic.
In an attempt to make his new album a success, Prince gave more
interviews than at any other point in his career. Nevertheless
Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic failed to perform commercially. A few
months earlier, Warner Bros. had also released The Vault: Old
Friends 4 Sale, a collection of unreleased material recorded by
Prince throughout his career, and his final recording commitment on
his contract with Warner Bros. The greatest success he had during
the year was with the EP 1999: The New Master, released in
time for Prince to collect a small portion of the sales dollars
Warner Bros. had been seeing for the album and singles of the
original 1999. Both critics and fans panned The New Master,
declaring it unimaginative.
The pay-per-view concert, Rave Un2 the Year 2000, was
broadcast on 31 December 1999 and consisted of footage from the 17
December and 18 December concerts of his 1999 tour. The concert
featured appearances by many guest musicians including Lenny Kravitz,
George Clinton, and The Time. It was released to home video the
following year. A remix album, Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic (as
opposed to "Un2") was released exclusively through Prince's NPG
Music Club in April 2000.
On 16 May 2000, Prince ceased using the Love Symbol moniker and
returned to using "Prince" again, after his publishing contract with
Warner-Chappell expired. In a press conference, he stated that,
after being freed from undesirable relationships associated with the
name "Prince," he would formally revert to using his real name.
Prince still frequently uses the symbol as a logo and on album
artwork and continues to play a Love Symbol-shaped guitar.
For several years following the release of Rave Un2 The Joy
Fantastic, Prince primarily released new music through his
Internet subscription service, NPGOnlineLtd.com (later
NPGMusicClub.com). Two albums that show substantive jazz influence
were available commercially at record stores: 2001's The Rainbow
Children and, later, the 2003 instrumental record N.E.W.S
which was nominated for a Best Pop Instrumental Album Grammy.
Another album of largely jazz-influenced music, "Xpectation," was
released via download in 2003 to members of the NPGMusicClub.
In 2002, Prince released his first live album, One Nite
Alone... Live!, which features performances from the One Nite
Alone tour. The 3-CD box set, which also includes a disc of "aftershow"
music entitled It Ain't Over!, failed to chart. During this
time, Prince sought to engage more effectively with his fan base via
the NPG Music Club, pre-concert sound checks, and at yearly
"celebrations" at Paisley Park, his music studios. Fans were invited
into the studio for tours, interviews, discussions and
music-listening sessions. Some of these fan discussions were filmed
for an unreleased documentary, directed by Kevin Smith. Smith
discusses what happened during those days at length in his An
Evening with Kevin Smith DVD.
Performances were also arranged to showcase Prince's talents, as
well as to collaborate with popular and well-established artists and
guests including Alicia Keys, The Time, Erykah Badu, Nikka Costa,
George Clinton, Norah Jones.
On 8 February 2004, Prince appeared at the Grammy Awards with
Beyoncé Knowles. In a performance that opened the show, Prince and
Beyoncé performed a medley of "Purple Rain," "Let's Go Crazy," "Baby
I'm a Star," and Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" to positive reviews
(video). The following month, Prince was inducted into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame. The award was presented to him by Alicia Keys
along with Big Boi and André 3000 of OutKast. 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
the deceased artist's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," playing a long
guitar solo that ended the song (video).
Reflections 2.19.2004 Prince appeared on the Tavis Smiley Show
for an interview and performed Reflections from his Musicology
album-acoustic with Wendy Melvoin of the Revolution.
In April 2004, Prince released Musicology through a
one-album agreement with Columbia Records. This deal gave Prince
most of the royalties. The album rose as high as the top five on a
number of international charts (including the United States, United
Kingdom, Germany and Australia).
That same year, Pollstar named Prince the top concert draw among
musicians in USA.
Grossing an estimated $87.4 million, Prince's Musicology Tour was
the most profitable tour in the music industry for 2004. The artist
played an impressive run of 96 concerts; the average ticket price
for a show was US$61. In Dallas, Texas, Prince was surprised by a
female audience member jumping out of her front row seat, getting
onto the stage while he was singing, and kissing him. The woman had
to be escorted out by security.
Further highlighting the success of the album, Prince's
Musicology went on to receive two Grammy wins, for Best Male R&B
Vocal Performance for "Call My Name" and Best Traditional R&B Vocal
Performance for the title track. Musicology was also
nominated for Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album, while "Cinnamon Girl
was nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
The album became the artist's most commercially successful since
Diamonds and Pearls, partly due to a radical scheme devised
which included in Billboard's sales figures those that were
distributed to each customer during ticket sales for the
Prince was ranked 7th Greatest Artist of All Time in Acclaimed
Music's list of The 1000 Greatest Artist of All Time. In 2004,
Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Prince #28 on their list of the 100
Greatest Artists of All Time.
In December 2004, Rolling Stone's readers named Prince Best Male
Performer and Most Welcome Comeback, though he says he "never went
Also in December 2004, Prince was ranked #5 on the Top Pop Artists
Of The Past 25 Years list by www.rockonthenet.com.
He was the highest-ranked male performer on the list.
In April 2005, Prince played guitar (along with En Vogue singing
backing vocals) on Stevie Wonder's single "So What The Fuss,"
Wonder's first since 1999.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city
of New Orleans on 29 August 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 2 September. Prince
again performed all instrumental and vocal parts. These recordings
were quickly dispersed to the public via Prince's NPG Music Club,
and "S.S.T." was later picked up by iTunes, where it reached #1 on
the store's R&B chart. On 25 October, Sony Records released a
version of the single on CD.
In late 2005 Prince signed with Universal Records to release his
album, 3121, on 21 March 2006, (3/21). The first single was
the Latin-tinged "Te Amo Corazón", the video for which was directed
by actress Salma Hayek and filmed in Marrakesh, Morocco, featuring
Argentine actress and singer Mía Maestro. The song was covered by
Viktoria Tolstoy on her album Pictures of Me, along with
another Prince song, "Strollin'". The video for the second single,
"Black Sweat", was nominated at the MTV VMAs for Best
Cinematography. The immediate success of 3121 gave his first #1
debut on the Billboard 200 with the album.
To promote the new album, Prince was the musical guest on
Saturday Night Live on 4 February 2006, seventeen years after
his last SNL appearance. He performed two songs from the
album, "Fury" and "Beautiful, Loved & Blessed", with Támar. Prince
also held a contest to win a trip to see a 'Purple Ticket Concert'
at his private residence in Hollywood, California. Seven winning
tickets were placed inside 3121 CD packages in the US, and
other tickets were given away in various contests on the internet
and around the world. On 6 May 2006, twenty-four prize winners (with
a guest each) attended a star-studded private party and performance
at Prince's home. The "Purple Ticket Concert" marked the end of a
long run of private performances for the Hollywood elite that began
in 2005 .
On 12 June 2006, Prince received a Webby Lifetime Achievement
Award in recognition of his "visionary" use of the Internet; Prince
was the first major artist to release an entire album, 1997's
Crystal Ball, exclusively on the internet. Ironically, many
orders for Crystal Ball that were made on Prince's
then-website, 1800newfunk.com, were not received by mail until long
after the album was released to record stores .
Only weeks after winning a Webby Award, Prince abruptly shut down
his official NPGMC website at 12:00 AM on 4 July 2006 after over
five years of operation. The NPGMC sent out an email, claiming that
"in its current 4m there is a feeling that the NPGMC gone as far as
it can go. In a world without limitations and infinite
possibilities, has the time come 2 once again make a leap of faith
and begin anew? These r ?s we in the NPG need 2 answer. In doing so,
we have decided 2 put the club on hiatus until further notice." On
the day of the music club's shutdown, a lawsuit was filed against
Prince by the British company HM Publishing (owners of the Nature
Publishing Group, also NPG). Despite these events occurring on the
same day, Prince's attorney has called it pure coincidence and
stated that the site did not close due to the trademark dispute.
Prince appeared at multiple award ceremonies in 2006. On 15
February 2006, Prince performed at the BRIT Awards along with Wendy
and Lisa and Sheila E. He played "Te Amo Corazón" and "Fury" from
3121 and "Purple Rain" and "Let's Go Crazy" from Purple Rain,
in a performance which was generally regarded as the best of the
On 27 June 2006, Prince appeared at the BET awards, where he was
awarded Best Male R&B Artist. In addition to receiving his award,
Prince performed a medley of Chaka Khan songs for Khan's BET
Lifetime Award. Prince had previously written and performed several
songs with the singer. On 14 November 2006, Prince was inducted into
the UK Music Hall of Fame, appearing to collect his award but not
performing. Also in November 2006, Prince opened a nightclub named
3121 in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. He performed
weekly on Friday and Saturday nights until April 2007 His contract
with the Rio ended.
On 22 August 2006, Prince released Ultimate. The double
disc set contains one CD of previous hits, the another of extended
versions and mixes of old material that were largely previously
Prince wrote and performed a song for the hit 2006 animated film
Happy Feet. The song, entitled "Song of the Heart", appears
on the film's soundtrack, which also features a cover of Prince's
early hit "Kiss", sung by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. In January
2007, "Song of the Heart" won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
Prince arrived late supposedly due to traffic problems and thus was
unable to make an acceptance speech, but actor Hugh Grant prompted
him later in the ceremony to take a bow.
On 2 February 2007, Prince played at the Super Bowl XLI press
conference. He and the band played a set of Chuck Berry's hit:
Johnny B. Goode," "Anotherloverholenyohead" from Parade and
"Get On the Boat" from 3121. Prince performed at the Super
Bowl XLI halftime show in Miami, Florida on 4 February 2007. The
performance consisted of three Purple Rain tracks ("Let's Go
Crazy," "Baby I'm a Star" and the title track), along with cover
versions of "We Will Rock You," "All Along the Watchtower," the Foo
Fighters song "Best of You" and "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater
Revival. Coincidentally, Miami had rain on the day of the Super
Bowl, which was lit purple during the performance of "Purple Rain."
He played on a large stage shaped as his famous symbol. The event
was carried to 140 million television viewers, the largest audience
of his life.
On 8 May 2007, Prince announced that he would play 21 concerts in
London over the summer. The "Earth Tour" included 21 nights at the
20,000 capacity O2 Arena. Tickets for the O2 Arena were priced at
£31.21 (including a free copy of Prince's latest album), in order to
make the concerts "affordable for everybody." The residency at The
O2 Arena was increased to 15 nights after all 140,000 tickets for
the original seven sold out in just 20 minutes
and then further extended to 21 nights.
On 10 May 2007, Prince performed a 'secret' gig at London's Koko
in front of a small crowd (between) fans and celebrities. Tickets
went on sale that morning on a first-come-first-served basis (again
at £31.21). A prelude to the forthcoming summer gigs in London,
Prince played a relaxed set of classic hits ("Kiss," changing the
lyric from "You don't have to watch Dynasty" to Desperate
Housewives; "Girls & Boys"; and "Nothing Compares 2 U")
alongside more recent tracks, plus a well-received cover version of
Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."
On 5 June 2007, Prince made an appearance at the 2007 ALMA
Awards, performing with Sheila E. On 28 June 2007, the UK national
newspaper The Mail on Sunday revealed that it had made a deal to
give Prince's new album, Planet Earth, away for free with an
"imminent" edition of the paper, making it the first place in the
world to get the album. The date chosen was 15 July 2007. This move
has sparked controversy among music distributors and has also led
the UK arm of Prince's distributor, Sony BMG, to withdraw from
distributing the album in UK stores.
The UK's largest high street music retailer, HMV decided to stock
the paper on release day due to the giveaway.
In October 2008 Prince released a live album entitled "Indigo
Nights," as well as "21 Nights," an accompanying book of poems,
lyrics and photos. The book chronicles his record-breaking tenure at
London's O2 Arena in 2007, while the album is a collection of songs
performed live in London's Club Indigo, where he performed his
Stance on copyright ownership
On 14 September 2007, Prince announced that he was going to sue
YouTube and eBay because they "appear to choose not to filter out
the unauthorized music and film content which is core to their
business success." A representative told Reuters, "The problem is
that one can reduce it to zero and then the next day there will be
100 or 500 or whatever. This carries on ad nauseam at Prince's
In October 2007, Stephanie Lenz filed a lawsuit against Universal
Music Publishing Group, claiming they were abusing copyright law,
after the music publisher had YouTube take down Lenz's home movie in
which the Prince song "Let's Go Crazy" played faintly in the
On 5 November 2007, several fan sites of Prince formed Prince
Fans United to fight back against legal requests made by Prince
to cease and desist all use of photographs, images, lyrics, album
covers and anything linked to Prince's likeness.
While Prince's lawyers claimed that the use of such representations
constituted copyright infringement, the Prince Fans United claimed
that the legal actions were "attempts to stifle all critical
commentary about Prince." On 8 November 2007, Prince Fans United
received a song named "PFUnk" providing a kind of "unofficial
answer" to their movement. The song, originally debuted on the PFU
main site, was
retitled "F.U.N.K.," and is available on iTunes.
On 14 November 2007, it was reported that the satirical website
b3ta.com had pulled their "image challenge of the week" devoted to
Prince after legal threats from the star under the DMCA (Digital
Millenium Copyright Act). b3ta co-founder Rob Manuel wrote on the
site: "Under threat of legal action from Princes legal team of
"potential closure of your web site" - We have removed the Prince
image challenge and B3ta apologises unreservedly to AEG / NPG and
Prince for any offence caused. We also ask our members to avoid
photoshoping Prince and posting them on our boards."
At the 2008 Coachella Music Festival, Prince performed a cover of
Radiohead's "Creep" but immediately after, he forced YouTube and
other sites to remove footage that fans had taken of the
On 18 October 2008, Ruth Lorenzo from British talent show The
X Factor performed 'Purple Rain'. Prince pushed for this to be
removed from youtube, much to the disappointment of many fans
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Prince was romantically linked with
many celebrities, including Vanity (also known as Denise Matthews),
Madonna, Anna Fantastic
Jill Jones, Apollonia Kotero, Kim Basinger, Stevie Nicks, Sheena
Easton, Robin Arcuri, Troy Beyer, Susanna Hoffs, Nona Gaye and
He dated Susannah Melvoin for a period in the mid-80's
(Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin's sister). Susannah was a member
of the Prince-formed band The Family, sang backup during the Parade
tour and sang on the Around the World in a Day, Parade
and Sign o' the Times albums.
He married his backup singer and dancer, Mayte Garcia, on
Valentine's Day, 1996. They had one son named Gregory, who was born
with Pfeiffer syndrome and died shortly after birth. They were
divorced in 1999.
In 1997, Prince approached funk bassist Larry Graham, one of his
childhood idols, with questions about his Jehovah's Witness faith.
In a later interview, Graham stated that Prince was in need of
Biblical answers and advice and that Graham was glad to answer.
Prince apparently became very interested in the religion: around
this time he began censoring some of his more provocative song
lyrics in concerts, as well as editing various religious references
in his songs that he had come to believe were Biblically inaccurate.The Rainbow Children, which relied heavily upon
Jehovah's Witness religious themes.
He was baptized by Jehovah's Witnesses in 2001, marking his formal
conversion to the faith. It was at this time that he released the
In 2001 Prince married Manuela Testolini in a private ceremony,
but she filed for divorce in May 2006.
Prince is a vegan.
In 2006 he was voted the "world's sexiest vegetarian" in PETA's
annual online poll.
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 towards 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
"Prince" is a trademark owned by Paisley Park Enterprises, Inc.
It was initially filed with the United States Patent and Trademark
Office (USPTO) in 2005 in the categories of printed materials,
clothing, electronic commerce, and entertainment services based on
first commercial in 1978
Various searches to the USPTO did not find any registrations or
transfers of "Prince" or related names by Warner Bros. In 1991, PRN
Music Corporation assigned the trademarks "Prince," "The Time,"
"Paisley Park," "New Power Generation," and "Prince and the
Revolution" to Paisley Park Enterprises.
Critics have argued Prince's name change as an attempt by the
artist to reinvent himself, providing an opportunity to redevelop
his style. One commentator noted:
Prince started his career as a big R&B star with limited
mainstream success. At that point, he left the middle of the
road and headed for the ditch. In 1980, it was risky to record
new wave songs with lusty lyrics that assured no radio airplay
(the classic Dirty Mind), but it paid off. Critics took
notice and he became an underground favorite. This paved the way
for his huge success with 1999 and Purple Rain.
Certainly that was the pinnacle of his career, as far as
worldwide earnings and universal adulation are concerned. But by
heading for the ditch again, by changing his name and
experimenting with his style, by lowering his stock value and
escaping his record contract, Prince has become an underground
artist again. In late 1996, the first collection of Prince music
since his break with Warner Bros. appeared in record stores, a
sprawling three-hour extravaganza integrating great dance
grooves and slow-burning ballads. Critical response has been
overwhelmingly positive, and sales have been brisk despite the
high price of a 3-CD set. It's no coincidence that he titled
this album Emancipation.
Prince often uses pseudonyms and monikers to separate himself
from the music (either his own or that of others) he has had input
in; he has said that he was tired of seeing his name everywhere, and
that only egotistical people take credit for everything they do.
He is also recognized by the names of various characters he has
played on film, the most well-known of which is The Kid, protagonist
of Purple Rain.
- Camille — Significant alter ego character and vocalist on
tracks between 1986 and 1988. A Camille-like character also
makes an appearance in the song "F.U.N.K.," released in 2007.
- Mr. Goodnight — on the track of the same name on Planet
Earth in 2007
- Jamie Starr / The Starr Company — early producer of The
Time, Vanity 6, Sheila E, etc.
- The Revolution — Though the band had other members, several
songs credited to Prince and The Revolution were performed by
- The Kid — Prince's semi-autobiographical persona in
Purple Rain; the character was revisited in the film
- Joey Coco — producer/writer of songs for Kenny Rogers,
Sheena Easton, etc.
- Christopher Tracy — lead character of Under the Cherry
Moon , wrote "Manic Monday," made popular by The Bangles
- Alexander Nevermind — writer of "Sugar Walls" for Sheena
Easton, also, writer on "Telepathy," by Deborah Allen.
- Paisley Park — writer of songs for Ingrid Chavez, El
DeBarge, Paula Abdul, Patti LaBelle, Tevin Campbell, and Louie
- Madhouse — writer and performer (except saxophone and flute
by Eric Leeds) of all tracks on the first Madhouse album.
Though credited to the "band," which did not exist at that time,
Prince draws royalties for this work. On Madhouse's second
album, some tunes were specified as being written by Prince,
Sheila E., Eric Leeds, and Levi Seacer, Jr., while other
compositions were attributed to Madhouse, i.e., Prince
- Austra Chanel — name of the "mentor" under which Madhouse
was assembled; said to be the creator of the Madhouse concept
- Gemini — Co-lead vocal "character" throughout the Batman
project in 1989
- Partyman — Prince plays the titular character in said music
- Tora Tora — on the NPG's Exodus album
- Azifwekaré — "homeless pothead" on the song "Style" and
director credit to the "Face Down" video
- The unpronounceable symbol (Love Symbol) — adopted as
official name from 1993 to 2000
- The Artist Formerly Known As Prince aka TAFKAP — offered by
journalists as an alternative to the Love Symbol
- The Artist — emerged from "The Artist Formerly Known As
Prince," and usually accredited to his then lawyer L. Londel
McMillan and became the most common alias in the media in the
- Taffy - by the British media, this derives from TAFKAP.
- Minneapolis Midget - Derived from his hometown of
Minneapolis, MN. Also, his small stature
- 1978: For You
- 1979: Prince
- 1980: Dirty Mind
- 1981: Controversy
- 1982: 1999
- 1984: Purple Rain
- 1985: Around the World in a Day
- 1986: Parade
- 1987: Sign O' The Times
- 1988: Lovesexy
- 1989: Batman
- 1990: Graffiti Bridge
- 1991: Diamonds and Pearls
- 1992: Love Symbol
- 1993: The Hits/The B-Sides
- 1994: Come, The Black Album
- 1995: The Gold Experience
- 1996: Chaos And Disorder, Emancipation
- 1997: The Truth
- 1998: Crystal Ball, New Power Soul
- 1999: Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, The Vault: Old
Friends 4 Sale
- 2000: Rave In2 the Joy Fantastic
- 2001: The Rainbow Children
- 2002: One Nite Alone..., One Nite Alone...Live!
- 2003: N.E.W.S, The Chocolate Invasion, The
- 2004: Musicology
- 2006: 3121
- 2007: Planet Earth
- 2008: Indigo Nights Live Album released with the book
Prince's music has been featured in many films. This list
includes films and videos releases in which Prince has either acted
or performed, or to which he has actively contributed songs. Films
that license preexisting Prince songs are not listed.
- Purple Rain (1984): actor, composer
- Prince and the Revolution LIVE! (1985): composer,
- Under the Cherry Moon (1986): actor, writer,
- Sign o' the Times (1987): composer, performer,
- Bright Lights, Big City (1988): composer (song):
- Lovesexy LIVE (1988): composer, performer
- Batman (1989): composer (songs)
- Graffiti Bridge (1990): actor, composer, writer,
- Prince Unauthorized (1991) (archive footage)
- Oscar's Greatest Moments (1992) (archive footage)
- Diamonds and Pearls (Video Collection) (1992): actor,
composer, writer, director
- The Hits Collection (Prince) (1993): actor, composer,
- The Undertaker (1994): actor, composer, writer
- 3 Chains o' Gold (1994): actor, composer, writer,
- "Glam Slam Ulysses" (1994): actor, composer, director
- Prince Interactive (1994) (video game): composer,
- Blankman (1994): composer (song) "Super Hero"
- Showgirls (1995): composer (songs): "Ripopgodazippa,"
- Fargo (1996): appears in end credits, not featured in
- Girl 6 (1996): composer (songs)
- Rave Un2 the Year 2000 (2000): performer, composer
- Bamboozled (2000): composer, performer (song) "2045
- Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas (2003): performer,
- Happy Feet (2006): composer (songs): "Song of the
- 2008 Grammy Award Won Best R&B Male Vocal
Performance,"Future Baby Mama"
- 2007: Won NAACP Image Award
category Outstanding Male Artist
category Best Original Song – Motion Picture (from movie "Happy
Feet" (2006)) for "The Song of the Heart"
category Best Male R&B Artist
category Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "Musicology"
- 2005: Won Grammy Award
- 2005: Won Myranda's Heart
category Best R&B Vocal Performance – Male for "Call My Name"
- 2005: Won NAACP Vanguard Award
- 2005: Won NAACP Image Award
category Outstanding Album for "Musicology"
- 2004: Won World Soundtrack Special Award
for Purple Rain (1984) shared with Wendy Melvoin; Lisa Coleman;
- 2004: Won Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- 2000: Won Soul Train Music Award
category Artist of the Decade – Male
- 1995: Won Award of Merit
- 1993: Won Brit Award
category Best International Solo Artist
- 1992: Won Soul Train Heritage Award
category Career Achievement
category Best International Solo Artist
category Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures (from movie
"Graffiti Bridge" (1990)) for "Thieves in the Temple"
category Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures (from movie
"Batman" (1989)) for "Partyman"
- 1990: Won AMA Award of Achievement
- 1988: Won MTV Video Music Award
category Best Male Video for "U Got The Look"
- 1988: Won MTV Video Music Award
category Best Stage Performance Video for "U Got The Look"
category Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Kiss"
shared with The Revolution
category Worst Director for Under the Cherry Moon (1986)
category Worst Original Song (from movie "Under the Cherry Moon"
(1986)) for "Love or Money"
category Worst Actor for Under the Cherry Moon (1986)
- 1986: Won MTV Video Music Award
category Best Choreography for "Raspberry Beret"
category Best International Artist shared with The Revolutions
category Best Music, Original Song Score for Purple Rain (1984)
category Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion
Picture or Television Special for Purple Rain (1984) shared with
Lisa Coleman; Wendy Melvoin; John L. Nelson
- 1985: Won American Music Award
category Favorite Soul/R&B Single for "When Doves Cry"
- 1985: Won American Music Award
category Favorite Soul/R&B Album for "Purple Rain"
- 1985: Won American Music Award
category Favorite Pop/Rock Album for "Purple Rain"
category Best R&B Song for "I Feel For You"
category Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for
"Purple Rain" shared with The Revolution