Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in June 1958. Born to a jazz singer mother and a pianist father, it seems only natural that the young Prince inherited an aptitude for music.
During the early 70s, he played in his cousin’s band. When he later composed songs for them, he drew on influences such as Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone. As well as singing on some tracks, he would also contribute his considerable talents on guitar and piano.
In 1976, he recorded a demo which started a bidding war among record labels. The victor was Warner Bros. Records. Two years later, he released his solo album ‘For You’ on which he played all the instruments. By the time his second album - ‘Prince’ - came out, he had recruited a backing band and was invited to support Rick James on his tour in 1980.
1982 saw the release of double album ‘1999’. The album was his most successful yet, launching his mainstream international career. Prince built on his success with his film and soundtrack ‘Purple Rain’, accompanied by his new backing band The Revolution.
Ever wondered how the ‘Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics’ labels first came about? While listening to Prince track ‘Darling Nikki’ on her daughter’s stereo, Tipper Gore was shocked to hear its sexually-charged lyrics and called for clearer labelling on record covers to advise parents on potentially unsuitable content.
The ‘Parade’ album was released in 1986, giving Prince further international chart success with the single ‘Kiss’. The legendary Tom Jones teamed up with Art of Noise two years later for a cover of ‘Kiss’ which breathed new life into the crooner’s career. In fact, Prince is responsible for revolutionising other music careers: The Bangles scored a massive hit with the Prince-penned ‘Manic Monday’, and Sinead O’Connor recorded a haunting rendition of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ in 1990.
Critics heaped praised on albums such as ‘Sign ‘O’ the Times’, ‘Lovesexy’ and ‘Diamonds and Pearls’, and his flamboyant dress and performances have made him as much of an 80s icon as Madonna and Michael Jackson. During the 90s, Prince changed his name to a symbol representing male and female. He struggled with creative limitations imposed by his record company, resulting in him daubing his face with the word ‘Slave’.
In 2007, Prince had a 21-night sell-out residency at London’s O2 Arena. Allegedly, the star had rehearsed in excess of 200 songs before the run and varied the setlist of the gigs according to his mood. Today, he continues to make music and capture the imagination of critics and fans alike.
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