Prince is an American singer, songwriter, producer and instrumentalist and one of the best selling artists of all time. He was born Prince Rogers Nelson to musician parents John L. Nelson and Mattie Shaw on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both Prince and his younger sister Tika were very interested in music, a hobby that was encouraged by their father. His parents separated when he was 10, after which he moved back and forth between living with his mother and father, before eventually moving in with the neighbors. Their son Andre Anderson became his friend, and the two joined a band called Grand Central, which was later renamed Champagne. In 1976, he made a demo tape with the help of a sound engineer named Chris Moon. This tape came to the attention of a Minneapolis businessman named Owen Husney who was so impressed with it that he helped Prince to procure a record deal with Warner Brothers to write, record and produce his own album.
With the record deal under his belt, Prince launched his first album titled “For You” in 1978. It got an unenthusiastic response from audiences and critics. His second album “Prince” released in 1979, got a much better response. It was at the top 3 in the charts and had the No. 1 hit “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. The album went platinum and helped Prince establish his name in the industry. His success continued with his 3rd and 4th albums titled “Dirty Mind” and “1999” respectively. The latter got rave reviews from critics and fans and went platinum thrice. This album got Prince his first American Music Awards and Grammy Award nominations. This success was soon followed by another equally important one; Prince wrote the soundtrack album for his debut movie “Purple Rain”. The album had two No. 1 hits titled “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” and went platinum 13 times. He received 10 American Award nominations, out of which he won 3, along with 2 Grammy Awards and the Oscar Award for “Best Original Song Score”. He became one of the first African American artists to be regularly featured on MTV.
His list of best selling albums kept increasing with albums such as “Around the World in a Day” in 1985, “Parade” in 1986, “Sign ‘O’ The Times” in 1987, “Lovesexy” in 1988, and the soundtrack to Batman in 1989. During the 1990s, he had clashes with Warner Brothers over the quality and quantity of his output. He changed his name to an archaic European symbol with unknown pronunciation, after which people began to refer to him as “The artist formerly known as Prince” or “TAFKAP” and even simply as “The Artist”. After producing one last album with Warner Brothers, titled “Chaos and Disorder” Prince was released from his contract in July 1996. He started producing albums under his own label such as “Emancipation” in 1996, “Crystal Ball” in 1997, and “Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic” in 1999, but none of these achieved a great amount of success.
He reverted to his original name of Prince in 2000, and released “The Very Best of Prince” in 2001. The next album to gain success was his 2003 album “N.E.W.S” for which he received another Grammy nomination. The next album “Musicology” was also very successful and went double platinum, receiving 2 Grammy awards out of 5 total nominations. His next albums “3121” and “Ultimate” kept him on the road to success, with the former selling 183,000 copies in its first week of release. He even opened a night club by the same name where he often performed himself. He won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for “Song of the Heart” written for the soundtrack of the animated movie “Happy Feet”.
Prince has been married and divorced twice, with a son who was born with a rare skull disorder and only lived a week. He is known for his overtly sexual and sometimes religious lyrics, outrageous fashion sense including wearing heels, bikini bottoms and capes, very small stature and prodigious talent in playing several instruments and recording and producing his own albums. Despite his showy stage personality, he is shy in real life. His music has influences of rock, pop, funk, soul, R&B, hip hop, blues, electronica and jazz.
His talent and drive are exceptional; for instance, during the shooting of the film “Purple Rain”, the director asked him to come up with an emotional song for the movie, and the very next morning Prince handed over two complete written, produced and recorded songs. In all, he has received 7 Grammy Awards from 33 nominations and, 4 MTV Video Music Awards from 12 nominations, 1 Oscar Award, 1 Golden Globe Award and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. He musical career is far from over, and the 56 year old musician has signed on to Warner Brothers again where he will release an expanded 30 year anniversary album of “Purple Rain”. Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.