Prince

  • Funk, rock, R&B musician and songwriter born Prince Rogers Nelson in 1958 in Minneapolis Minnesota. Died in 2016 from a fentanyl overdose.
  • He was given the name Prince Rogers because that was the stage name for his father, a pianist and songwriter. Prince wrote his first song, Funk Machine, when he was 7 years old.
  • In 1976, Prince recorded a demo tape, which was sent to record companies, and he signed with Warner Bros. to make 3 albums. He released For You in 1978, his first of 39 studio albums. He wrote, produced, arranged and played all 27 instruments on the album. The first single, Soft and Wet, peaked at #12 on the R&B chart.
  • In 1979, his second album, titled Prince, was released. It reached #22 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and sold over 1 million copies. The singles – Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad and I Wanna Be Your Lover – were big R&B hits.
  • By 1981, he was a star. His next 6 albums all went platinum, with 1984’s Purple Rain selling over 13 million copies in the U.S. and 25 million world wide. Purple Rain was a soundtrack album to the movie of the same name, and is #76 on Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Albums of All Time. The album is his first where he credits his backing band The Revolution. Three singles landed at #1 or #2 on the Hot 100 chart – When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, and Purple Rain. Prince won 2 Grammy awards for the record, as well as an Oscar. In 2012, the album was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry list.
  • The album Sign o’ the Times is at #93 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Album list. The album 1999 is #163.
  • Top 10 singles from the other platinum albums between 1981 and 1987 included Little Red Corvette, Delirious, I Would Die 4 U, Raspberry Beret, Pop Life, Kiss (which peaked at #1), Sign o’ the Times, and U Got the Look. 
  • His career continued to sizzle, with platinum albums in 1989 (Batman), 1991 (Diamonds and Pearls), 1992 (Prince logo.svgaka The Love Symbol Album), 1996 (Emancipation), and 2004 (Musicology). The singles Batdance and Cream both reached #1, in 1989 and 1991 respectively.
  • Prince famously changed his name to Prince logo.svg in 1993 as a rebellion against Warner Bros, as they would not release music as quickly as Prince wanted them to. He explained the symbol as a combination of the symbols for male and female, and it was referred to as “The Love Symbol.” The media referred to Prince as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” until 2000, when Prince changed his name back to Prince.
  • Prince wrote many songs that were hits for other artists. Some of these songs are Chaka Khan’s I Feel For You, The Bangles Manic Monday, Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U, Stevie Nicks’ Stand Back, and Madonna’s Love Song. 
  • He performed 3 times on Saturday Night Live – and was impersonated 14 times on the show. He performed at the 2007 Superbowl Halftime show, considered the greatest halftime performance ever.
  • His death in 2016 from opioid addiction was shocking. It led to a spike in record sales (including me – I downloaded Purple Rain after his death). Five albums were simultaneously in the Billboard 200 album chart after his death – the first time an artist has ever had 5 albums on the chart at the same time. When he died, he had a vault of music of thousands of songs, albums and even movies. Given the legal mess of his estate – he had no will – it will likely be many years before this music is released.
  • In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He won 7 Grammys, and 3 of his albums were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame – 1999, Purple Rain and Sign o’ the Times. The University of Minnesota awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in 2016. Rolling Stone ranks him at #27 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
  • I’ve barely scratched the surface here. Prince is beyond legendary. It’s too bad that he left us. Here is an 8 minute segment on his Superbowl Halftime show, where he sings Let’s Go Crazy, a cover of Foo Fighter’s Best of You and Purple Rain in the pouring rain. It’s amazing, truly an iconic moment in music history! Check it out.

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