Prince Rogers Nelson (born June 7, 1958), known by his mononym Prince, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor. He has produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. He has written several hundred songs and produces and records his own music for his own music label. In addition, he has promoted the careers of Sheila E., Carmen Electra, the Time and Vanity 6, and his songs have been recorded by these artists and others, including Chaka Khan, the Bangles, Sinéad O’Connor, and Kim Basinger.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Prince developed an interest in music at an early age, writing his first song at age seven. After recording songs with his cousin’s band 94 East, seventeen-year-old Prince recorded several unsuccessful demo tapes before releasing his debut album, For You, in 1978. His 1979 album, Prince, went platinum due to the success of the singles “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. His next three records, Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and 1999 (1982) continued his success, showcasing Prince’s trademark of prominently sexual lyrics and incorporation of elements of funk, dance and rock music. In 1984, he began referring to his backup band as the Revolution and released the album Purple Rain, which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name.
After releasing the albums Around the World in a Day (1985) and Parade (1986), The Revolution disbanded and Prince released the critically acclaimed double album Sign “O” the Times (1987) as a solo artist. He released three more solo albums before debuting the New Power Generation band in 1991, which saw him changing his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol known as “The Love Symbol”. In 1994, he began releasing new albums at a faster pace to remove himself from contractual obligations to Warner Bros, releasing five records in a span of two years before signing to Arista Records in 1998. In 2000, he began referring to himself as “Prince” once again. He has released thirteen albums since then, including his latest, 20Ten, released in 2010.
Prince has a wide vocal range and is known for his flamboyant stage presence and costumes. His releases have sold over 100 million copies worldwide. He has won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year he was eligible. Rolling Stone has ranked Prince No. 27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Prince’s music has been influenced by rock, R&B, soul, funk, hip hop, blues, new wave, electronica, disco, psychedelia, folk, jazz, and pop. His artistic influences include Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament-Funkadelic, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, the Isley Brothers, Todd Rundgren Duke Ellington, Curtis Mayfield, and Stevie Wonder. Prince pioneered the “Minneapolis sound”, a hybrid mixture of funk, rock, pop, R&B and new wave that has influenced many other musicians.
Musical beginnings: 1975–80
In 1975, Pepe Willie, the husband of Prince’s cousin, Shauntel, formed the band 94 East with Marcy Ingvoldstad and Kristie Lazenberry. Willie hired André Cymone and Prince to record tracks with 94 East. Those songs were written by Willie and Prince contributed guitar tracks. Prince also co-wrote, with Willie, the 94 East song, “Just Another Sucker”. The band recorded tracks which later became the album Minneapolis Genius – The Historic 1977 Recordings. Prince also recorded, but never released, a song written by Willie, “If You See Me” (also known as, “Do Yourself A Favor”). In 1995, Willie released the album 94 East featuring Prince, Symbolic Beginning which included original recordings by Prince and Cymone.
In 1976, Prince created a demo tape with producer Chris Moon in Moon’s Minneapolis studio. Unable to secure a recording contract, Moon brought the tape to Minneapolis businessman Owen Husney. Husney signed Prince, at the age of 17, to a management contract and helped Prince create a demo recording at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis using producer/engineer David Z. The demo recording, along with a press kit produced at Husney’s ad agency, resulted in interest from several record companies including Warner Bros. Records, A&M Records, and Columbia Records. With the help of Husney, Prince signed a recording contract with Warner Bros.. Warner Bros. agreed to give Prince creative control for three albums and ownership of the publishing rights. Husney and Prince then left Minneapolis and moved to Sausalito, California where Prince’s first album, For You, was recorded at Record Plant Studios. Subsequently, the album was mixed in Los Angeles and released in on April 7, 1978. According to the For You album notes, Prince produced, arranged, composed and played all 27 instruments on the recording. The album was written and performed by Prince, except for the song “Soft and Wet” which had lyrics co-written by Moon.
The cost of recording the album was twice Prince’s initial advance. Prince used the Prince’s Music Co. to publish his songs. “Soft and Wet” reached No. 12 on the Hot Soul Singles chart and No. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song “Just as Long as We’re Together” reached No.91 on the Hot Soul Singles chart.
In 1979 Prince created a band which included André Cymone on bass, Dez Dickerson on guitar, Gayle Chapman and Doctor Fink on keyboards, and Bobby Z. on drums. Their first show was at the Capri Theater on January 5, 1979. Warner Bros. executives attended the show but decided that Prince and the band needed more time to develop his music.
In October 1979, Prince released a self-titled album, Prince, which was No.4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Black Albums charts, and No.22 on the Billboard 200, going platinum. It contained two R&B hits: “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” sold over a million copies, and reached No.11 on the Billboard Hot 100
PLEASE NOTE: PRINCE IS VERY STRICT ABOUT HIS MUSIC. THERE WILL BE NO VIDEOS OF HIS SONGS FROM YOUTUBE. THEY’VE ALL BEEN TAKEN DOWN BECAUSE OF COPYRIGHT. THERE WILL ONLY BE VIDEOS OF HIM IN SOME SORT OF PERFORMANCE ON STAGE.