(1958 - 2016)
Header Photo: Low resolution detail from the cover of the Prince Programme, One Nite Alone. More photos and details here
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Prince ~ Biography
- Date of birth: June 7, 1958
- Real Name: Prince Rogers Nelson
- Height: 5'2" (157cm)
- Contact Address:
Paisley Park Studios
7801 Audubon Road
- Date of death: April 21, 2016
- Location: Paisley Park (found unresponsive in an elevator at Paisley Park)
He's been called His Royal Badness and His Purple Highness , but until recently he was simply called a symbol, or The Artist Formerly Known As Prince (takap). Reclusive man of mystery, self-proclaimed messianic zealot, sex symbol, flamboyant rock star, Prince, when he was Prince, was at the top of the music world, giving Michael Jackson a run for his pop dollars. Although completely unpredictable, highly controversial and self-indulgent, Prince is also an extremely accomplished musician, producer and composer, one of the '80s' true musical originals.
A virtual one-man band, Prince sculpted and created the Minneapolis Sound through his keyboards, screeching, almost pleading, vocals, erotic live shows and explicit sexual lyrics. Named after his father's jazz band, the Prince Rogers Band, Prince Rogers Nelson had music in his blood from birth. When his parents divorced his father left his piano behind, and at the age of seven, Prince began mimicking television themes on the keys.
As a teenager, he ran away from home, moved in with a friend, formed a band and taught himself how to play bass, guitar and drums. By the age of 18, he had recorded several demos, and by 19, he had struck an amazing deal with Warner Records, one unheard of by an unknown; the artist, dubbed a prodigy, was not only given a six-figure, several-album contract, but also an inordinate amount of freedom--as a songwriter, musician and producer.
In 1977, Prince became the youngest producer in Warner history. Not too surprising, Prince's debut, For You, in 1978, was over budget and over-ambitious (he played a reported 23 different instruments on the record).
While the music covered a broad spectrum of styles--from acoustic to rock to R&B, appearing like he couldn't decide which was his style, Prince knew lyrically where he was comfortable; Soft And Wet oozed sex and slithered its way onto the singles and black charts. Back in Minneapolis, he gathered some old musicians together and played his first solo show in January 1979. His early shows were tame, but in support of his self-titled sophomore outing, Prince was parading and strutting around the stage in tight-ass pants--or no pants, only zebra-print butt-hugger undies--and high-heeled boots, beginning a decade of lavish and erotic performances with lingerie-clad women and oddly-attired musicians at his side.
With a hit album, Prince, and single, I Wanna Be Your Lover, Prince was already making headway with black audiences, but was determined to establish himself with rock and New Wave audiences; he combed his hair out, stripped down to teeny-weenie black bikinis and tossed about on a bed on stage. Then he stripped the music down to raw sex for 1980's Dirty Mind and the songs Head and Sister, and 1981's Controversy, which sparked little controversy.
With the 1982 release of the ambitious (as well as remarkable) double album 1999, Prince's music crossed over charts and people, uniting a growing audience and landing himself in the top 10 and MTV (he became one of the first black performers on the network); his achievement came thanks to more melodic, pop-intense songs such as the title track and Little Red Corvette. Although once again produced, arranged and composed solely by the master, this record marks the first time Prince allowed members of his band (primarily guitarist Dez Dickerson) to play occasional bits; but true recognition, in the form of the Revolution, was to be saved for his next album.
Prince's impact was felt in other Minneapolis-based bands, most significantly with the Time, behind which he was rumored to be the controlling figure and genius, as well as a fluffy-female-fronted-folly called Vanity 6.
His role with these bands, as well as his own musical career, was played out in the semi-autobiographical film Purple Rain (June 1984), which, along with the accompanying soundtrack, vaulted The Purple One to superstar status; portrayed as sensitive, wild and sexy, Prince and his Edwardian wear became all the rage. The record sold a phenomenal number of records the first day of its release in the U.S., and produced several hits, including When Doves Cry, Let's Go Crazy, Purple Rain and I Would Die 4 U. Prince also received two Grammy Awards as well as an Oscar (for the score--not his acting).
The artist, soon to be known as The Artist, released album after album over the next 12 years, but none that had the impact of his earlier efforts, except perhaps the single Kiss in 1986 and
Sign O' The Times in 1987. Although many of these records achieved some success and he continued to play major arenas to screaming audiences, his eccentricities and self-indulgence ultimately alienated him from U.S. fans.
During that decade-plus, he went through numerous stylistic phases--even experimenting with the psychedelic on
Around The World In A Day, starred in a movie that flopped, opened his own studio and record label (Paisley Park), fired the Revolution, hired the New Power Generation, made a another movie that flopped and a concert-type film, opened a club, grew his hair long, cut his hair short, and changed his name to a symbol.
Through it all, His Royal Badness has remained a royal mystery--until his triple CD Emancipation in 1996, The Artist granted extensive interviews (most notably with Oprah Winfrey), no doubt in promotion of his new music, which he released after getting out of his long-term Warner Bros. deal. He released not one but two albums on his own in 1998, Crystal Ball and New Power Soul.
His death in April 2016 produced a sense of shock more than anything else. It was big news here in the UK as it was around the world - the last news of a major death here was Bowie in January and the blanket news coverage was comparable to that. Not that there was alot of actual detail to the announcement and they struggled to fill the airtime, using old videos from the 1980s and quoting tweets from the famous ones. I don't really want to know that a famous person who met his dog once is saddened by the news. Don't know if it's just me but there is something deeply disturbing with major news stations reliant on tweets to fill the news. Also, I don't think it is appropraiate to sum up someone as great as Prince in a 140 words or whatever the maximum tweet count is. I remember a tweet from I can't remember who who said when Bowie died that the earth had been around for billion of years and that he was thankful for living at the same time as Bowie. Sounded really clever but it's not. It's too glib, too clever and, at the end of the day, vacuous, Lordy, imagine if Shakespeare had departed this mortal coil today. or Dickens. Or Beethoven. You could say the same thing. But it won't bring him back and adds nothing to the grief as a fan many of us had for Bowie or Prince.
I hate the letting go of someone in a few words; I hate a memory of a genius truncated to so little. It would be better to say nothing and just let individuals deal with the news rather than it being tweetified and cut up into small parts, easy to digest.
I don't know. I can't really put into words just what is wrong with twitter. It's a gut feeling - it just doesn't feel right.
What I'm saying I guess is that Prince was the opposite of twitter. He is worth an ocean of words, big words. huge words, a never ending sea of exploration into the massive back catalogue that is up there with anyone that came before.
Another thing to think about is that vault at Paisley Park and those 1000s of unreleased songs. How on earth are they going to release that? Who is it up to? Is it all going to be released. The way the world works I can't see them not releasing it. But it's crucial to his legacy that it is released correctly. There was a band from the 1980s many of you won't know about called Japan (there is a tenuous Prince link in that the lead singer David Sylvian was married to Ingrid Chavez). As they were making it big they jumped record labels from Hansa to Virgin. When they made it big Hansa re-released the back catalogue with a rapid, scattergun approach resulting in a total mess. To this day the catalogue has never been repaired and has been left as an utter disgrace to this highly influential band.
Let's hope the release of this material, as well as the back catalogue, is handled with the utmost sensitivity to a great artist. Not releasing stuff for the sake of releasing it but a clear strategy, a clear reason for releasing material. If there is ambient stuff there for example then help us to understand why the pieces were made.
Other questions would be: will this material make us thing even better of Prince? Will it generate a greater appreciation? And will it garner new fans by its sheer brilliance.
If the answers are yes, and really yes, then the legact of Prince will be enhanced.
The mystery around his death will not go away and the void of hard fact is slowly, very slowly, being filled in. The BBC put it the most concisely:
Detectives in Minnesota have questioned a doctor who saw the singer Prince
twice in the weeks before he died.
A police warrant has also revealed that Dr Michael Schulenberg prescribed medication to the singer on 20 April - the day before he died.
It does not say what was prescribed or whether Prince
took the drugs.
The police also conducted another search of the star's Minneapolis home and seized medical records from the hospital where
Dr Schulenberg worked.
Prescription painkillers were in the singer's possession following his sudden death, officials have told US media.
But it is unclear what role, if any, those drugs may have played.
The results of a post-mortem examination of the 57-year-old singer have discounted suicide. A medical examiner said full results could take several weeks.
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Prince Purple Rain Sealed Scarce ltd edition 12 x 12 pic box set CD and Video - Extensively Scanned - Smartphone Page
Prince & The New Power Generation - Diamonds & Pearls UK limited collectors edition 3-track Holographic CD single, 1991 - Extensively Scanned
Prince - Betcha By Golly Wow CD Single - Extensively Scanned
Prince - Dinner with Delores CD Single - Extensively Scanned
Prince - Gold CD Single Part 2 - Extensively Scanned
Prince Tour Programme 1990 - Extensively Scanned
Prince And The Revolution Tour Programme c.1986 - Extensively Scanned
Prince Official New T-Shirt Still Sealed Early 1990s Large - Extensively Scanned