On his 35th birthday (June 7, 1993), he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, a mixture of the male and female signs combined with the alchemy symbol for soapstone. The media began referring to him as "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince," or simply "The Artist." His staff at Paisley Park, on the other hand, called him "the dude." In May 2000, he changed his name back to Prince.
His birth name is Prince Rogers Nelson, taken from his father's stage name - Prince Rogers - in the jazz band The Prince Rogers Trio. His father's real name is John L. Nelson.
Raised in Minneapolis, his nickname in school was "Skipper." Despite his small stature, being only 5'2" tall, he was a very talented basketball player as a teenager and played for one of the best school teams in Minnesota. His brother, Duane Nelson, was also a basketball and football player for Central High School, which they both attended.
He played all of the instruments and wrote all of the songs on his first album, For You
(though "Soft and Wet
" was co-written by producer Chris Moon). He continued to write, produce arrange and play most instruments on all recordings since.
Getting his record deal at 18 and his first album For You
coming out at 19, his arrangement with Warner Bros. made him the youngest artist in its history to be given complete artistic control in the studio.
Whitney - Johnson City, UT
Prince became a Jehovah's Witness in the late '90s, and in accordance with the faith, stopped using profanity in his performances and recordings after his conversion. Prince was known to visit homes randomly in the Minneapolis area to spread the word of the Jehovah's Witnesses. It is believed that he was introduced to the church by bassist Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone and Graham Central Station.
Prince was a child prodigy - he learned to play over a dozen instruments before the age of 15. The first song he learned to play on the piano was the original Batman theme
when he was 7 years old. In 1989, Tim Burton enlisted him to create the soundtrack for his Batman
film, which produced the hit song "Batdance
." None of this is coincidental in Prince's mind.
"There are no accidents," he told Details
magazine in 1991. "And if there are, it's up to us to look at them as something else."
In July 2007, he gave away copies of the album Planet Earth
for free in the UK newspaper Mail on Sunday
. It didn't seem like a good marketing move until he announced 21 consecutive London concert dates and sold out all of them.
Bertrand - Paris, France
Prince shunned collaborations. He turned down an offer to duet with Michael Jackson in the '80s, and also refused to perform on "We Are The World
." The controversy surrounding Prince's exit from the charity single inspired a Saturday Night Live
skit spoofing the event. Billy Crystal played Prince, who led the song "I Am Also The World."
On his 2004 tour, Prince required a doctor backstage to administer a B-12 injection. His rider for that tour also asked for tables at all entry points for collection of gifts and flowers.
In 1980, he was the supporting act on Rick James' tour. Later that year, James headlined for Prince's Dirty Mind tour.
Prince loved ping pong. He and his band played a lot of the table sport when touring. When his Under the Cherry Moon co-star Kristin Scott Thomas was a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the host shared a funny story about Prince's love for the game.
Apparently, the singer wanted to play a game of ping pong with Fallon on the show, but he kept changing his mind. His representatives kept calling the host to say Prince wanted to, then didn't want to, then wanted to again, then didn't want to again. It even got to the point where he told Fallon he would play with him off-camera because "he just thinks you'd be fun to play ping pong with." Finally, Fallon said they would have a table set up just in case. Prince did come on the show, but there was no mention of ping pong again.
In 1993, during negotiations regarding the release of Prince's album The Gold Experience, the Purple One realized his contract with Warners meant they owned his master tapes. The Minneapolis star sued for release from the label, and vowed to display the word "Slave" on his cheek until he was free. "If they made jokes I'd say, Go right ahead," Prince told Mojo. "I had their attention."
During an appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show, Prince was asked what household chores he does. He replied: "I can cook, but only one thing - omelets. All my friends have high cholesterol."
Prince was always finicky about giving interviews. When he did allow them, he often confounded journalists by not allowing them to use a tape recorder or even a simple pen and paper to take notes. Sometimes, he didn't even speak at all.
"I used to tease a lot of journalists early on," he told Rolling Stone in 1985, "because I wanted them to concentrate on the music and not so much on me coming from a broken home. I really didn't think that was important. What was important was what came out of my system that particular day. I don't live in the past. I don't play my old records for that reason. I make a statement, then move on to the next."
Prince and his wife Mayte Garcia had a son named Boy Gregory who tragically died of a condition called Pfeiffer syndrome just one week after his birth in 1996. According to Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology, Pfeiffer syndrome is a "rare genetic disorder characterized by the premature fusion of certain bones of the skull (craniosynostosis), which prevents further growth of the skull and affects the shape of the head and face."
The singer's first TV interview was with Oprah in 1996, with the host visiting Paisley Park.
Whilst on a 1987 UK tour, Prince discovered there was no way of getting a baby grand piano up the stairs of London's Chelsea Harbour Hotel for him to practice on, so the workaholic star hired a crane and brought it in through the window.
Prince shared the stage with James Brown when he was 10 years old. "My stepdad put me on stage with him and I danced a bit until the bodyguard took me off," the Purple Maestro told MTV News.
The first song that Prince appeared on was "Stone Lover
" by Music, Love and Funk. Recorded in 1976 and released in 1977, the seven-minute plus funk track features him on guitar.
Prince famously repped all things purple in his song titles, album covers and wardrobe. However, according to the singer's sister, Tyka Nelson, it wasn't his favorite hue. "It is strange because people always associate the color purple with Prince," she told Britain's The Evening Standard newspaper, "but his favorite color was actually orange."
Prince was really good at programming a drum machine. He was one of the first to get his hands on the first unit that sampled real drums: the LM-1, of which only about 500 were made. He was able to process the sounds in creative ways, resulting in patterns like the one heard on "When Doves Cry
." According to Roger Linn
, who created the LM-1, Prince was the most creative user of the device.