Ambitious, talented and hardworking, if sometimes overstretched, Prince
brought modern ideas and attitudes into pop music and put on a great
show besides. He first attracted attention with his spacy soulful sound
topped with screaming guitar, not to mention the colorful clothes he put
on his 5 ft 3 in (1.6 m) frame.
After having played in bands like Grand Central (later called
Champaine) and 94 East, he made his first solo album called For You
in 1978. Since then he released about one album each year.
He was backed in the
by The Revolution, and in the
by The New Power Generation. His players were always good musicians;
Prince has gained attention for hiring and recording with women
considered attractive or s--y. He also worked on different occasions
funk musicians, such as
Larry Graham and
Maceo Parker. Prince has also recorded with
Many critics consider Dirty Mind,
Purple Rain and Sign '0' The Times to be his three
best albums; which are found in many Top 100 lists of the eighties.
Amongst the fans albums like
and The Rainbow Children (2002)
are among the favorites.
His first hit "Little Red Corvette" made him part of the first wave
black artists on
Other hits include "1999", "When Doves Cry", "Let's Go Crazy", "Purple
Rain", exhibiting both versatility and feeling. Prince is allied with
the tradition of
Marvin Gaye in mixing spirituality and sensuality, "I Would Die 4
U", for instance, which can be compared to Gaye's "S--ual Healing", with
its not so subtle reference to
Jesus Christ. In contrast to Gaye, however, his songs often had more
overt and direct s--ual content, such as "Jack U Off" and "S--y
In addition to recording his own music, he has written for many
Chaka Khan and
The Bangles. He has been a tireless promoter of new artists, among
them, Morris Day and the Time,
1987 Prince recorded The Black Album, a funky album whose
erotically-charged lyrics were considered so blatant, Prince decided not
to officially release it. The album circulated through the
bootleg underground music world until it was finally given an
official release in
He has starred in three movies,
Purple Rain (1984),
Under The Cherry Moon (1987)
and Graffiti Bridge (1990),
the last two of which he also directed. Of these movies only Purple
Rain was a commercial success.
1987 a movie was shot of the Sign '0' the Times Tour in
Antwerp. The movie was shown in several theaters in Europe, but was
more of a success as a home video.
Prince is regarded as one of top live acts in the music business,
often performing not only in large arenas, but also late at night in
small clubs for a selected audience.
He was one of the first artists to sell his music directly to his
fans through the Internet, bypassing record labels.
Prince and his relationship with his own name
He was born
and given the name Prince Rogers Nelson after the
Prince Rogers Trio, his father's
band. As a boy, he was called Skipper, but he recorded
under the name Prince. On his 35th birthday,
he said he would no longer answer to the name Prince and would hence be
known by an unpronounceable glyph. On
he reclaimed the name Prince, although, typically, he did not announce
the reclamation until some time later.
He had refused to use the name Prince while publishing rights
remained with his old record company
Warner Brothers. He said he felt like he was their slave. He did not
want to advertise for that company, so he didn't use the name. As soon
as they were out of the picture, the name was back.
By that time, he was also known as The Artist, short
for The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (as he was
anointed by a British journalist) or even the
acronym TAFKAP. People loved to talk about it, some
were amused, some were annoyed. Whatever else it was, it was deft
publicity that kept his name and career alive separate from his legal
entanglements with his record company. Other names used as
'pronunciation' for the glyph were The Symbol and
which had aired his videos and contributed to Prince's fame, did not
embrace the glyph, however; in a humorous fashion, they took to playing
a sound effect resembling a puff of hot air whenever his name was
mentioned on the music video channel.
According to a Prince fan site, the
incorporates the male and female signs along with the
alchemy symbol for
They give the
representation of the symbol as:
Prince's management company made an image file of it available for
newspapers and magazines to use in referring to him.
New York Times reported in concert coverage in 1994:
From Prince's official announcement reclaiming his name: "On Dec. 31,
1999, my publishing contract with Warner-Chappell expired, thus
emancipating the name I was given before birth 'Prince' from all
long-term restrictive documents. I will now go back to using my name
instead of the symbol I adopted to free myself from all undesirable
- Since Prince has changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph,
tickets for his two-night stand at the Palladium were billed as
"Art. Frmly Knwn as Prince." Calling for encores, the crowd chanted
"We want" followed by two high whoops.
A common nickname for Prince is the Minneapolis Midget,
referring to both his place of origin and height.
2003, Prince's lawyer, Londell Macmillan, confirmed his client had
Jehovah's Witnesses and that the star was "very committed" to them.