Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube playlist of music by Prince.

Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis in 1958. His father was a struggling jazz pianist and music played a central part in Prince's life since childhood. However, money was tight, which created quite a bit of tension within his home. He would escape from the heated arguments between his parents through the music he created. Prince was a musical genius who learned twenty different instruments by ear alone.

When he turned 16, he decided to move out of his parent's home and into a friend's basement. There, he continued to develop his musical skills, particularly on the piano. One year later, Prince was able to record some of his multi-instrument creations in exchange of some session piano work. His compilations amazed the studio technician as it did two executives in New York who offered him a contract. Prince, however felt that he wanted to remain close to home and therefore signed a contract with Warner Brothers Record Company in Minneapolis. At the age of 19, Warner Brothers gave Prince complete artistic control over his debut album, which demonstrated their confidence in his artistic ability.

In 1978, Prince released his debut album, For You which featured him on every instrument. Though the album was created with an incredible effort, the sales from it were not very impressive. One year later, Prince released his second album, Prince, which began to expand his audience beyond his small local following based on the strength of the single, "I Wanna Be Your Lover". The single reached the number one spot on the R&B charts.

His next album, Dirty Mind in 1980, did not do too well on the market, most likely because its best song, "When You Were Mine" was never released as a single. However, the following album, Controversy ignited his flame once again as it benefited from his X-rated lyrics and androgynous image. That year, Prince also opened a few shows for the Rolling Stones, adorned in a bikini and a trench coat. Though he was booed off the stage, the appearance gave him some exposure to his potential audience.

In 1982, the door to the mainstream pop arena was held open as Prince crossed over from the R&B music world. The double album, 1999 was the force which formed that channel for him with its three appealing singles, "1999", "Little Red Corvette", and "Delirious". The album remained on the Billboard charts for nearly three years.

If 1982 was the year that placed Prince in new waters, 1984 was the year that he conquered the tide. 1984 was the year that the album, Purple Rain was released and it brought him into a territory of popularity only known by Elvis Presley and the Beatles. The single, "When Doves Cry" along with the album and the movie with the same title all became #1 hits. The album remained in the #1 spot for 24 weeks in both the Billboard and Box Office charts, and sold over 10 million copies. The year ended gloriously as Prince was awarded the Oscar for Best Score.

Although the shoes are always tough to fill after such an accomplishment, Prince came back the following year with the album, Around the World in A Day released on his new label, Paisley Park. That album was critically acclaimed and has been compared to the Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. It also became very popular and he again topped the charts.

During the next three years, Prince continued to put out new albums including Parade (1986), Sign of The Times (1987) and Love Sexy (1987) which were popular but did not sell as well as his previous albums. During this time, Prince also recorded material for the album, The Black Album. However, because of its adult themes and use of profanity, its release was delayed until 1994. At this point, critics believed Prince could not tread water for much longer. However, Prince dispelled any skepticism with his successful soundtrack for the movie, Batman. He then made another soundtrack album for the film, Graffiti Bridge which did not do well. But then again, he managed to keep his head above water for another year with the release of the album, Diamonds and Pearls, which contained his fifth #1 single, "Cream".

In 1992, things began to get interesting with Prince. First, he returned to Warner Brothers and negotiated a contract to produce six new albums. However, where Prince wanted to go artistically did not coincide with Warner Brother's expectations. Warner Brothers was anticipating material that would be similar to Prince's earlier work, but Prince had a different idea in mind. He changed his name to the unpronounceable glymph (combination of male and female symbols) and created an untitled album with a strange narrative. Before long, the media, despairing over their inability to pronounce his new name, began to call him the "The artist formerly called Prince." That eventually evolved into "The Artist", although by the 2000, after resolving his many issues with his record company, he began to call himself "Prince" again.

Warner Brothers was left in the dark regarding what Prince's intentions were, therefore they placed tighter constraints on his creativity. This upset Prince, unaccustomed to being placed within a box. He felt as if he was a prisoner to Warner Brothers, which he very publicly announced by writing the word "slave" on his face. He also vowed that he would not release any new material under the Warner Brothers label. He declared that he would put out music from his backlog of unreleased material only.

To add more fuel to the fire, Prince also released new music under his new name on a new label, NPG. The single, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" became a surprise hit, which added to the tension between the two parties. In response to Prince's voyage with the new label, Warner Bros. released the album, Come, which was a declaration of Prince's "death," as evidenced by the years "1958-1993" on the album cover. The war finally ended in an agreement, allowing Prince to leave the label after delivering two more albums.

In 1994, Prince released the album, The Gold Experience which received positive reviews, and then released, Chaos and Disorder which also was critically acclaimed. Upon completing his contractual agreement with Warner Brothers, Prince signed a distribution deal with the EMI Capitol Records group and released a triple CD called Emancipation, rejoicing his new artistic freedom. Unrestrained, Prince was able to shoot back up into the spotlight as the album earned double platinum status.

Prince was also interested in the capabilities of the Internet. With a successful attempt, he sold a 3-CD collection of previously unreleased material over the World Wide Web through his official site, Love 4 One Another. Since then, Prince released an EP featuring seven different remixes of the song, "1999" in preparation for the new millennium.

Even after his death in 2016, Prince is considered to be one of the most influential musicians in music history as he has crossed between many different music genres including pop, rock, dance, funk, soul, gospel, jazz, and rap. He has influenced many artists, including Madonna, Sinead O' Connor, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion with his song writing and is an artist whose style is so unique that he is difficult to imitate, although his influence on hip-hop and rap has been enormous.

Page author: L.C. & C.F.