Prince Rogers Nelson (born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an American musician. He performs simply as Prince, but has also been known by various other names, among them an unpronounceable symbol, leading fans and critics to dub him The Artist Formerly Known As Prince or simply The Artist. Since returning to use of the name "Prince", some have dubbed him "The artist formerly known as 'the artist formerly known as Prince'".
Prince is a prolific artist, having released several hundred songs both under his own name and with other artists. He has won six Grammy Awards and an Academy Award, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2004, he was named as the top male pop artist of the past 25 years by ARC Rock on the Net, and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Prince #28 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time
From his early material, rooted in R&B, soul and funk, Prince has expanded his musical palette throughout his career, absorbing many other genres including pop, rock, jazz, blues, new wave, psychedelia and hip hop. Some of his primary influences include Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, James Brown and Carlos Santana. The distinctive characteristics of his early-to-mid 1980s work, such as sparse and industrial-sounding drum machine arrangements and the use of synthesizer riffs to serve the role traditionally occupied by horn riffs in earlier R&B, funk and soul music, were called the "Minneapolis sound" and have proved very influential.
There are a number of myths regarding Prince's ethnicity. In fact, both his parents were African-American. Prince, like many African-Americans is an amalgam of different ethnicities. According to a 12 September 1985 Rolling Stone magazine article, it affirms Shaw as "a singer sixteen years John's junior, Mattie bore traces of Billie Holiday in her pipes and more than a trace italian." After the birth of his sister Tyka in 1960, Prince's parents gradually drifted apart. After they formally separated, he had a troubled relationship with his stepfather that resulted in his running away from home. Prince lived briefly with his father, who bought him his first guitar, and later he moved in with a neighborhood family, the Andersons, befriending their son, Andre Anderson (later called André Cymone).
Prince and Anderson joined Prince's cousin Charles Smith in a band called Grand Central that they formed in junior high school. His initial contributions were as an instrumentalist in what was a mainly instrumental band that played clubs and parties in the Minneapolis area. As time went by and Prince's musical interests broadened, he found himself producing the arrangements for the band. Before long he became the band's front man. By the time Prince entered high school, Grand Central evolved into Champagne and started playing original music already drawing on a range of influences including Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, Miles Davis, Parliament-Funkadelic and Jimi Hendrix. At one point Prince was a student at the Minnesota Dance Theatre.
In 1976, he started work on a demo tape with producer Chris Moon in a Minneapolis studio. Prince also had the patronage of Owen Husney, to whom Moon introduced him, a connection that helped him produce a high-quality demo recording. Husney started contacting major labels and ran a campaign promoting Prince as a star of the future, resulting in a bidding war eventually won by Warner Bros. Records. They offered him a contract and were the only label to give Prince creative control of his songs.
Prince released his first album, For You, on 7 April 1978. For You was the first major-label album released by Prince, his first of many for Warner Bros. Tommy Vicari was the executive producer. This album, like most of his career, was not recorded with a band; Prince purportedly played all 27 instruments on the album though they were different types of string, percussion, and keyboard instruments.
The majority of For You was written and performed by Prince, except for the song "Soft and Wet" (lyrics co-written by Moon). This was the first of Prince's albums containing the now ubiquitous legend: "Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed by Prince." Prince spent twice his initial advance recording the album, which sold modestly and made the bottom reaches of the Billboard 200, while the single "Soft and Wet" performed well on the R&B charts. Prince used Prince's Music Co. for publishing the songs from this album. The single reached #12 on the Soul chart and #92 on the pop chart. "Just as Long as We're Together" flopped at #91 on the soul chart.
By 1979, Prince had recruited his first backing band featuring Andre Cymone (Anderson) on bass, Gayle Chapman and Doctor Fink on keyboards, Bobby Z on drums, and Dez Dickerson on guitar. Prince intentionally enlisted a multi-racial, mixed-gender group, much like the backing band of one of his greatest influences, Sly Stone. They had their first shows at the Capri Theatre on 5 January and 6 1979. Reportedly, Prince mostly mumbled into the microphone, whilst Dez and Andre ran back and forth into the audience. Warner executives were at the second show, which was plagued with electrical difficulties and a snowstorm, and decided Prince had promise but the band needed more time to gel before it could tour. This was just after their gear was stolen from their rehearsal base at Dels Tyre Mart.
In October 1979, Prince released his self-titled second album Prince, which reached #4 on the Billboard R&B charts, and contained two R&B hits: "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover." These two R&B hits were performed on 26 January 1980, on the TV show American Bandstand with this first backing band. Legend has it that Prince became annoyed when, during the interview segment, Dick Clark expressed surprise that Prince and his bandmates hailed from Minneapolis "of all places." At first Prince refused to speak, instead answering a question by gesturing with his hand. It was later admitted by Dez Dickerson that it was planned from the beginning as a way to throw Dick Clark off his game. Dickerson was quoted as saying, "Great. We're illiterate, but we play well." For his second album, Prince used Ecnirp Music – BMI for publishing his songs, which he would also use for the album Dirty Mind. Prince has been certified gold status; the single "I Wanna Be Your Lover" reached #1 on the R&B charts, also hitting #11 on the Billboard Top 100 American pop charts. This became known as one of his greatest hits.
Prince opened for Rick James in a 1980 tour with the label "punk funk" being applied to both artists, although it reportedly didn't sit comfortably with Prince. He released the album Controversy in 1981, with the single of the same name charting internationally for the first time. In February of 1981, Prince performed "Partyup" on the now-infamous season six episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Charlene Tilton that brought Jean Doumanian's lackluster tenure as executive producer down when cast member Charles Rocket uttered the word "fuck" at the end of the program. Starting with the album Controversy, Prince used Controversy Music – ASCAP for publishing his songs, which he would use for his following sixteen records until Emancipation in 1996.
During this period, Prince began to attract attention for the clothes he wore onstage. He wore high-heeled shoes and boots and tended to flaunt and express an intense sexuality onstage in addition to in his music, using symbols associated with transgenderism and as a result, people began questioning his sexual orientation. His stylistic choices brought him trouble as an opening act for The Rolling Stones' two Los Angeles Coliseum shows in 1981, where he was infamously pelted with garbage while wearing bikini briefs, leg warmers, high-heeled boots, and a trench coat, in addition to being booed off the stage for his wardrobe. These shows occurred just before the release of Controversy and also when he was breaking in his new bassist Mark Brown (later BrownMark), who was then just 18 and out of high school.
In 1981, Prince formed a "side project"(a problematic label given that his band was only used for performance, not recording sessions) band called The Time. Prince was able to do this thanks to a clause in his contract with Warner Bros. The Time released four albums between 1981 and 1990, with Prince writing and performing all instruments and backing vocals throughout. The band's vocals were led by Morris Day.
In the coming decade, Prince would also collaborate with Vanity (of Vanity 6), Apollonia (of Apollonia 6) and Sheila E. He also wrote hits for artists such as Sheena Easton ("Sugar Walls"), Celine Dion (as she talked about in an interview with Arsenio Hall in 1993), and The Bangles ("Manic Monday"). Prince's own recordings would be covered in hit versions by artists as diverse as Chaka Khan ("I Feel For You"), Sheena Easton ("Eternity"), Mariah Carey, Art of Noise with Tom Jones, and Sinéad O'Connor ("Nothing Compares 2 U"). O'Connor's cover, originally written by Prince for The Family, was a huge commercial success in 1990.
In 1982, Prince released the 1999 double-album which "broke" Prince into the mainstream in the US and internationally, selling over three million copies. The title track was a protest against nuclear proliferation and became his first top ten hit internationally. With his video for "Little Red Corvette" he joined Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie as part of the first wave of African American artists on MTV. The song "Delirious" also went top ten on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was placed at number six in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll for 1983.
Around this time Prince began crediting his band as The Revolution, which consisted of Dez Dickerson on guitar, Lisa Coleman and Doctor Fink on keyboards, Bobby Z. on drums, and Brown Mark on bass. The band's name was printed in reverse on the cover of 1999; Prince refrained using the name "The Revolution" until Dickerson left the band for personal reasons. Dickerson was replaced by Wendy Melvoin, a childhood friend of Lisa. The band members were known for being solid musicians and a strong live act, but their talents would be used sparsely in the studio. Their presence in Prince's recordings, however, would increase through the mid-1980s.
During this period, Prince recorded many acclaimed b-sides—songs that were previously released on the b-side of a single that were, at times, "throwaway" songs—becoming popular songs in their own right. Some greats and fan favorites include "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore," b-side for "1999"; "Erotic City," b-side for "Let's Go Crazy"; and "17 Days," b-side for "When Doves Cry." Several of these b-sides were covered by mainstream artists, including Alicia Keys and Living Colour.
Prince's 1984 album, Purple Rain (concurrent with the film of the same name) sold more than thirteen million copies in the US and spent twenty-four consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200. The Academy Award-winning film grossed more than $80 million in the US alone, and has proved to be Prince's biggest cinematic success to date.
Two songs from Purple Rain, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy," topped the US pop singles charts and were hits around the world, while the title track reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Prince simultaneously held the spots #1 film, #1 single, and #1 album in the US. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for "Purple Rain," and the album ranks at 72 in the top 100 of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list; the album is also listed in The All-TIME 100 Albums of TIME Magazine.
It was the album's song "Darling Nikki" to which Tipper Gore overheard her twelve-year-old daughter, Karenna, listening that inspired her to found the Parents Music Resource Center. The center has enacted the mandatory use of a warning label ("Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics") on the covers of records that have been judged to contain language or lyrical content unsuitable for minors.
In 1985, after the U.S. Purple Rain Tour, which was a smash hit in the US and Canada, Prince announced that he would discontinue both live performances and music videos after the release of Around the World in a Day, which held the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 album chart for three weeks. Prince's ban on music videos supposedly ended when the album stalled in the charts and, after a video for "Raspberry Beret," then reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1986, Prince released the album Parade. The album went to #3 on the Billboard 200 album chart and #2 on the R&B album charts. The first single, "Kiss," would top the Billboard Hot 100. At the same time, "Manic Monday" by The Bangles, which Prince had written under the pseudonym "Christopher Tracey," reached #2 on the Hot 100.
Christopher Tracy was the name of Prince's character in the movie "Under The Cherry Moon," for which Parade served as a soundtrack. Prince both directed and starred in the movie, and it also featured Kristen Scott Thomas as Mary Sharon in her first movie role. She would go on to star in such films as "The English Patient." Following the film and album, Prince returned to touring with a stripped-down show. After a few isolated dates (dubbed "the Hit and Run Tour") in the United States, he embarked on his first full scale European Tour in the summer of 1986. He closed the tour in September in Japan, his first appearances in the country.
At the end of the tour, Prince disbanded The Revolution, although retaining band member Matt Fink on keyboard. Added to the backing band was Boni Boyer on keyboards, Sheila E on drums, Levi Seacer, Jr. on bass, and Miko Weaver on guitar.
In 1987, Prince planned to release The Black Album, a funk-oriented album whose erotically-charged lyrics and club-focused beats were perceived by many as his attempt to woo back the black audience he was supposed to have lost as a result of his mid-80s forays into pop, hard rock, and psychedelic rock. In reality, the album was a collection of tracks recorded during the previous few years, some of which had initially been recorded for Sheila E's birthday party in 1986.
The album remains legendary in Prince's career after its release was canceled at the artist's behest mere days before its release date. Though many already manufactured copies were supposed to be destroyed, several escaped and became the source for numerous bootleg editions. The album circulated through the bootleg underground music world and was not given an official release until 1994. Prince later attributed his eleventh-hour request for the album to be pulled from release to "a spiritual epiphany," but there are rumors that this epiphany was actually the result of a bad experience with the drug Ecstasy.
The 1988 album Lovesexy is considered Prince's "spiritual" answer to the "dark" The Black Album. Lovesexy performed disappointingly on the US charts, reaching only #11 on the Billboard 200, but it reached #1 in the UK. (One track from The Black Album, "When 2 R in Love," also appeared on Lovesexy.) The US leg of the Lovesexy World Tour also proved to be commercial disappointment: Prince lost money as dates failed to sell out. He did balance this poor performance with the European and Japanese legs of the tour.
In 1989, Prince provided and released the soundtrack for Batman, which returned him to #1 on the US album charts. The worldwide hit-single "Batdance" reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, while another track, "Partyman," featuring the vocals of his then girlfriend "Anna Garcia became a popular song with the film's audiences.
In 1990, Prince released the film Graffiti Bridge, a sequel to Purple Rain that performed poorly at the box office. The soundtrack to "Graffiti Bridge" featured Prince along with artists such as Tevin Campbell, Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers, and Morris Day with his other band and project, The Time. It would peak at #6 in the US and reach #1 in the UK. He also collaborated with Madonna on her Like a Prayer album for the song entitled "Love Song."
1993 found Prince working significantly on Kate Bush's 1993 album, The Red Shoes; her name appears in the credits of his Diamonds and Pearls album. Prince chiefly contributed on the song "Why Should I Love You," playing bass, guitar, and keyboards, singing vocals, and arranging music for the mix. This would be the final "Prince" credit, until 2000. Kate Bush reciprocated in 1996 and is featured on background vocals on the Emancipation track, "My Computer."
Prince's twelfth album was titled with an unpronounceable symbol (later copyrighted as Love Symbol #2). It reached the top ten of the U.S. album charts. In 1993, he also changed his stage name to the Love Symbol, which is a combination of the symbols for male (♂) and female (♀). Because the symbol was/is unpronounceable, he was often referred to as "Symbol," "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," or simply "The Artist." In 1993, at the request of Warner Brothers, Prince released a 3-CD greatest hits compilation entitled The Hits/The B-Sides. The first two discs were also sold separately as The Hits 1 and The Hits 2. In addition to featuring the majority of Prince's hit singles (with the exception of "Batdance," which was omitted), The Hits includes an array of previously hard-to-find recordings, notably B-sides spanning the majority of Prince's career, as well as a handful of previously unreleased tracks such as the Revolution-recorded "Power Fantastic." Two new songs, first "Pink Cashmere" and then "Peach," were chosen as promotional singles to accompany the compilation album. Unfortunately, neither the album nor singles performed as well in sales as Warner Bros. had hoped, however, The Hits offers arguably the most thorough overview of Prince's musical output from 1978–1993.
In 1993, during negotiations regarding the release of Prince's album The Gold Experience, a legal battle ensued between Warner Bros. and Prince over the artistic and financial control of Prince's output. During the lawsuit, Prince appeared in public with the word "slave" written on his cheek. Prince explained his name change as follows:
The first step I have taken towards the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros. was to change my name from Prince to the Love Symbol. Prince is the name that my Mother gave me at birth. Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music that I wrote. The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros…
I was born Prince and did not want to adopt another conventional name. The only acceptable replacement for my name, and my identity, was the Love Symbol, a symbol with no pronunciation, that is a representation of me and what my music is about. This symbol is present in my work over the years; it is a concept that has evolved from my frustration; it is who I am. It is my name.
Critics have argued Prince's name change as an attempt by the artist to reinvent himself, providing an opportunity to redevelop his style. One commentator noted:
Prince started his career as a big R&B star with limited mainstream success. At that point, he left the middle of the road and headed for the ditch. In 1980, it was risky to record new wave songs with lusty lyrics that assured no radio airplay (the classic Dirty Mind), but it paid off. Critics took notice and he became an underground favorite. This paved the way for his huge success with 1999 and Purple Rain. Certainly that was the pinnacle of his career, as far as worldwide earnings and universal adulation are concerned. But by heading for the ditch again, by changing his name and experimenting with his style, by lowering his stock value and escaping his record contract, Prince has become an underground artist again. In late 1996, the first collection of Prince music since his break with Warner Bros. appeared in record stores, a sprawling three-hour extravaganza integrating great dance grooves and slow-burning ballads. Critical response has been overwhelmingly positive, and sales have been brisk despite the high price of a 3-CD set. It's no coincidence that he titled this album Emancipation.
In 1994, Prince's attitude towards his artistic output underwent a notable shift. He began to view releasing albums in quick succession as a means of ejecting himself from his contractual obligations to Warner Bros. The label, he believed, was intent on limiting his artistic freedom by insisting that he release albums more sporadically. He also blamed Warner Bros. for the poor commercial performance of the Love Symbol album, claiming that it was insufficiently marketed by Warner. It was out of these developments that the aborted The Black Album was officially released, approximately seven years after its initial recording and near-release. The "new" release, which was already in wide circulation as a bootleg, sold relatively poorly.
Following that disappointing venture, Warner Bros. succumbed to Prince's wishes to release an album of new material, to be entitled Come. When Come was eventually released, it confirmed all of Warner's fears. It became Prince's poorest-selling album to date, struggling to even shift 500,000 copies. Even more frustrating was the fact that Prince insisted on crediting the album to "Prince 1958–1993."
Prince pushed to have his next album The Gold Experience released simultaneously with Love Symbol era material. Warner Bros. allowed the single "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" to be released via a small, independent distributor, Bellmark Records, in February 1994. The release was successful, reaching #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in many other countries, but it would not prove to be a model for subsequent releases. Warner Bros. still resisted releasing The Gold Experience, fearing poor sales and citing "market saturation" as a defense. When eventually released in September 1995, The Gold Experience failed to sell well, although it reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 initially, and many reviewed it as Prince's best effort since Sign o' the Times. The album is now out-of-print.
Chaos and Disorder, released in 1996, was Prince's final album of new material for Warner Bros., as well as one of his least commercially successful releases. Prince attempted a major comeback later that year when, free of any further contractual obligations to Warner Bros., he released Emancipation. The album was released via his own NPG Records with distribution through EMI. To publish his songs in Emancipation, Prince did not use Controversy Music – ASCAP, which he had used for all his records since 1981, but rather used Emancipated Music Inc. – ASCAP.
While certified platinum by the RIAA, some critics felt that the sprawling 36-song, 3-CD set (each disk was exactly 60 minutes long) lacked focus, and might have worked better as a single or double disc. Emancipation is the first record featuring covers by Prince of songs of other artists: Joan Osborne's Top Ten hit song of 1995 "One of Us. "Betcha By Golly Wow!" (written by Thomas Randolf Bell and Linda Creed); "I Can't Make You Love Me" (written by James Allen Shamblin II and Michael Barry Reid); and "La-La Means I Love You" (written by Thomas Randolf Bell and William Hart).
Prince released Crystal Ball, a 4-CD collection of unreleased material, in 1998. The distribution of this album was disorderly, with some fans pre-ordering the album on his website up to a year before it was eventually shipped to them, and months after the record had gone on sale in retail stores. The Newpower Soul album released three months later failed to make much of an impression on the charts. His collaboration with Chaka Khan, Come 2 My House released on the NPG Records label, met with the same fate.
In 1999, Prince once again signed with a major label Arista Records to release a new record, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic. In an attempt to make his new album a success, Prince gave more interviews than at any other point in his career. Nevertheless Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic failed to perform commercially. A few months earlier, Warner Bros. had also released The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale, a collection of unreleased material recorded by Prince throughout his career, and his final recording commitment on his contract with Warner Bros. The greatest success he had during the year was with the EP 1999: The New Master, released in time for Prince to collect a small portion of the sales dollars Warner Bros. had been seeing for the album and singles of the original 1999. Both critics and fans panned The New Master, declaring it unimaginative.
The pay-per-view concert, Rave Un2 the Year 2000, was broadcast on 31 December 1999 and consisted of footage from the 17 December and 18 December concerts of his 1999 tour. The concert featured appearances by many guest musicians including Lenny Kravitz, George Clinton, and The Time. It was released to home video the following year. A remix album, Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic (as opposed to "Un2") was released exclusively through Prince's NPG Music Club in April 2000.
On 16 May 2000, Prince ceased using the Love Symbol moniker and returned to using "Prince" again, after his publishing contract with Warner-Chappell expired. In a press conference, he stated that, after being freed from undesirable relationships associated with the name "Prince," he would formally revert to using his real name. Prince still frequently uses the symbol as a logo and on album artwork and continues to play a Love Symbol-shaped guitar.
For several years following the release of Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, Prince primarily released new music through his Internet subscription service, NPGOnlineLtd.com (later NPGMusicClub.com). Two albums that show substantive jazz influence were available commercially at record stores: 2001's The Rainbow Children and, later, the 2003 instrumental record N.E.W.S which was nominated for a Best Pop Instrumental Album Grammy. Another album of largely jazz-influenced music, "Xpectation," was released via download in 2003 to members of the NPGMusicClub.
In 2002, Prince released his first live album, One Nite Alone... Live!, which features performances from the One Nite Alone tour. The 3-CD box set, which also includes a disc of "aftershow" music entitled It Ain't Over!, failed to chart. During this time, Prince sought to engage more effectively with his fan base via the NPG Music Club, pre-concert sound checks, and at yearly "celebrations" at Paisley Park, his music studios. Fans were invited into the studio for tours, interviews, discussions and music-listening sessions. Some of these fan discussions were filmed for an unreleased documentary, directed by Kevin Smith. Smith discusses what happened during those days at length in his An Evening with Kevin Smith DVD. Performances were also arranged to showcase Prince's talents, as well as to collaborate with popular and well-established artists and guests including Alicia Keys, The Time, Erykah Badu, Nikka Costa, George Clinton, Norah Jones.
On 8 February 2004, Prince appeared at the Grammy Awards with Beyoncé Knowles. In a performance that opened the show, Prince and Beyoncé performed a medley of "Purple Rain," "Let's Go Crazy," "Baby I'm a Star," and Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" to positive reviews (video) The following month, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The award was presented to him by Alicia Keys along with Big Boi and André 3000 of OutKast. As well as performing a trio of his own hits during the ceremony, Prince also participated in a tribute to fellow inductee George Harrison in a rendition of the deceased artist's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," playing a long guitar solo that ended the song (video)
Reflections 2.19.2004 Prince appeared on the Tavis Smiley Show for an interview and performed Reflections from his Musicology album-acoustic with Wendy Melvoin of the Revolution.
In April 2004, Prince released Musicology through a one-album agreement with Columbia Records. This deal gave Prince most of the royalties. The album rose as high as the top five on a number of international charts (including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia). That same year, Pollstar named Prince the top concert draw among musicians in USA.
Grossing an estimated $87.4 million, Prince's Musicology Tour was the most profitable tour in the music industry for 2004. The artist played an impressive run of 96 concerts; the average ticket price for a show was US$61. In Dallas, Texas, Prince was surprised by a female audience member jumping out of her front row seat, getting onto the stage while he was singing, and kissing him. The woman had to be escorted out by security. Further highlighting the success of the album, Prince's Musicology went on to receive two Grammy wins, for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Call My Name" and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for the title track. Musicology was also nominated for Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album, while "Cinnamon Girl was nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. The album became the artist's most commercially successful since Diamonds and Pearls, partly due to a radical scheme devised which included in Billboard's sales figures those that were distributed to each customer during ticket sales for the Musicology tour.
Prince was ranked 7th Greatest Artist of All Time in Acclaimed Music's list of The 1000 Greatest Artist of All Time. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Prince #28 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time In December 2004, Rolling Stone's readers named Prince Best Male Performer and Most Welcome Comeback, though he says he "never went anywhere". Also in December 2004, Prince was ranked #5 on the Top Pop Artists Of The Past 25 Years list by www.rockonthenet.com. He was the highest-ranked male performer on the list.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city of New Orleans on 29 August 2005, Prince offered a personal response by recording two new songs, "S.S.T." and the instrumental "Brand New Orleans," at Paisley Park in the early hours of 2 September. Prince again performed all instrumental and vocal parts. These recordings were quickly dispersed to the public via Prince's NPG Music Club, and "S.S.T." was later picked up by iTunes, where it reached #1 on the store's R&B chart. On 25 October, Sony Records released a version of the single on CD.
To promote the new album, Prince was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on 4 February 2006, seventeen years after his last SNL appearance. He performed two songs from the album, "Fury" and "Beautiful, Loved & Blessed", with Támar. Prince also held a contest to win a trip to see a 'Purple Ticket Concert' at his private residence in Hollywood, California. Seven winning tickets were placed inside 3121 CD packages in the US, and other tickets were given away in various contests on the internet and around the world. On 6 May 2006, twenty-four prize winners (with a guest each) attended a star-studded private party and performance at Prince's home. The "Purple Ticket Concert" marked the end of a long run of private performances for the Hollywood elite that began in 2005.
On 12 June 2006, Prince received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his "visionary" use of the Internet; Prince was the first major artist to release an entire album, 1997's Crystal Ball, exclusively on the internet. Ironically, many orders for Crystal Ball that were made on Prince's then-website, 1800newfunk.com, were not received by mail until long after the album was released to record stores.
Only weeks after winning a Webby Award, Prince abruptly shut down his official NPGMC website at 12:00 AM on 4 July 2006 after over five years of operation. The NPGMC sent out an email, claiming that "in its current 4m there is a feeling that the NPGMC gone as far as it can go. In a world without limitations and infinite possibilities, has the time come 2 once again make a leap of faith and begin anew? These r ?s we in the NPG need 2 answer. In doing so, we have decided 2 put the club on hiatus until further notice." On the day of the music club's shutdown, a lawsuit was filed against Prince by the British company HM Publishing (owners of the Nature Publishing Group, also NPG). Despite these events occurring on the same day, Prince's attorney has called it pure coincidence and stated that the site did not close due to the trademark dispute.
Prince appeared at multiple award ceremonies in 2006. On 15 February 2006, Prince performed at the BRIT Awards along with Wendy and Lisa and Sheila E. He played "Te Amo Corazón" and "Fury" from 3121 and "Purple Rain" and "Let's Go Crazy" from Purple Rain, in a performance which was generally regarded as the best of the night.. On 27 June 2006, Prince appeared at the BET awards, where he was awarded Best Male R&B Artist. In addition to receiving his award, Prince performed a medley of Chaka Khan songs for Khan's BET Lifetime Award. Prince had previously written and performed several songs with the singer. On 14 November 2006, Prince was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, appearing to collect his award but not performing. Also in November 2006, Prince opened a nightclub named 3121 in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. He performed weekly on Friday and Saturday nights until April 2007 His contract with the Rio ended.
On 22 August 2006, Prince released Ultimate. The double disc set contains one CD of previous hits, the another of extended versions and mixes of old material that were largely previously unavailable.
Prince wrote and performed a song for the hit 2006 animated film Happy Feet. The song, entitled "Song of the Heart", appears on the film's soundtrack, which also features a cover of Prince's early hit "Kiss", sung by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. In January 2007, "Song of the Heart" won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Prince arrived late supposedly due to traffic problems and thus was unable to make an acceptance speech, but actor Hugh Grant prompted him later in the ceremony to take a bow.
On 8 May 2007, Prince announced that he would play 21 concerts in London over the summer. The "Earth Tour" included 21 nights at the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena. Tickets for the O2 Arena were priced at £31.21 (including a free copy of Prince's latest album), in order to make the concerts "affordable for everybody." The residency at The O2 Arena was increased to 15 nights after all 140,000 tickets for the original seven sold out in just 20 minutes and then further extended to 21 nights.
On 10 May 2007, Prince performed a 'secret' gig at London's Koko in front of a small crowd (between) fans and celebrities. Tickets went on sale that morning on a first-come-first-served basis (again at £31.21). A prelude to the forthcoming summer gigs in London, Prince played a relaxed set of classic hits ("Kiss," changing the lyric from "You don't have to watch Dynasty" to Desperate Housewives; "Girls & Boys"; and "Nothing Compares 2 U") alongside more recent tracks, plus a well-received cover version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."
On 5 June 2007, Prince made an appearance at the 2007 ALMA Awards, performing with Sheila E. On 28 June 2007, the UK national newspaper The Mail on Sunday revealed that it had made a deal to give Prince's new album, Planet Earth, away for free with an "imminent" edition of the paper, making it the first place in the world to get the album. The date chosen was 15 July 2007. This move has sparked controversy among music distributors and has also led the UK arm of Prince's distributor, Sony BMG, to withdraw from distributing the album in UK stores. The UK's largest high street music retailer, HMV decided to stock the paper on release day due to the giveaway.
On 5 November 2007, several fan sites of Prince formed Prince Fans United to fight back against legal requests made by Prince to cease and desist all use of photographs, images, lyrics, album covers and anything linked to Prince's likeness. While Prince's lawyers claimed that the use of such representations constituted copyright infringement, the Prince Fans United claimed that the legal actions were "attempts to stifle all critical commentary about Prince." On 8 November 2007, Prince Fans United received a song named "PFUnk" providing a kind of "unofficial answer" to their movement. The song, originally debuted on the PFU main site, was retitled "F.U.N.K.," and is available on iTunes.
On 14 November 2007, it was reported that the satirical website b3ta.com had pulled their "image challenge of the week" devoted to Prince after legal threats from the star under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). b3ta co-founder Rob Manuel wrote on the site: "Under threat of legal action from Princes legal team of "potential closure of your web site" - We have removed the Prince image challenge and B3ta apologises unreservedly to AEG / NPG and Prince for any offence caused. We also ask our members to avoid photoshoping Prince and posting them on our boards."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit against Prince's music company because he demanded that YouTube remove a video of a 13-month-old boy dancing as 29-seconds of "Let's Go Crazy" plays on a CD player in the background. The video is a home movie shot by the child's mother in the family's rural Pennsylvania kitchen.
At the 2008 Coachella Music Festival, Prince performed a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" but immediately after he forced YouTube and other sites to remove footage that fans had taken of the performance. Thom Yorke of Radiohead, upon hearing about the removal of the video, asked Prince to unblock the song stating "Well, tell him to unblock it. It's our … song.
He dated Susannah Melvoin for a period in the mid-80's (Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin's sister). Susanna was a member of the Prince-formed band The Family, sang backup during the Parade tour and sang on the Around the World in a Day, Parade and Sign o' the Times albums.
He married his backup singer and dancer, Mayte Garcia, on Valentine's Day, 1996. They had one son, possibly named Gregory, who was born with Pfeiffer syndrome and died shortly after birth. They were divorced in 1999.
In 1997, Prince approached funk bassist Larry Graham, one of his childhood idols, with questions about his Jehovah's Witness faith. In a later interview, Graham stated that Prince was in need of Biblical answers and advice and that Graham was glad to answer. Prince apparently became very interested in the religion: around this time he began censoring some of his more provocative song lyrics in concerts, as well as editing various religious references in his songs that he had come to believe were Biblically inaccurate. He was baptized by Jehovah's Witnesses in 2001, marking his formal conversion to the faith. It was at this time that he released the album The Rainbow Children, which relied heavily upon Jehovah's Witness religious themes.
He married Manuela Testolini in 2001 in private ceremony but she filed for divorce in May 2006. He was represented by Patrick Cousins in the divorce. Prince is a vegan. In 2006 he was voted the "world's sexiest vegetarian" in PETA's annual online poll.
category Outstanding Male Artist
category Best Original Song – Motion Picture (from movie "Happy Feet" (2006)) for "The Song of the Heart"
category Best Male R&B Artist
category Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "Musicology"
category Best R&B Vocal Performance – Male for "Call My Name"
category Outstanding Album for "Musicology"
for Purple Rain (1984) shared with Wendy Melvoin; Lisa Coleman; Bobby Z.
category Artist of the Decade – Male
category Best International Solo Artist
category Career Achievement
category Best International Solo Artist
category Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures (from movie "Graffiti Bridge" (1990)) for "Thieves in the Temple"
category Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures (from movie "Batman" (1989)) for "Partyman"
category Best Male Video for "U Got The Look"
category Best Stage Performance Video for "U Got The Look"
category Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Kiss" shared with The Revolution
category Worst Director for Under the Cherry Moon (1986)
category Worst Original Song (from movie "Under the Cherry Moon" (1986)) for "Love or Money"
category Worst Actor for Under the Cherry Moon (1986)
category Best Choreography for "Raspberry Beret"
category Best International Artist shared with The Revolutions
category Best Music, Original Song Score for Purple Rain (1984)
category Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special for Purple Rain (1984) shared with Lisa Coleman; Wendy Melvoin; John L. Nelson
category Favorite Soul/R&B Single for "When Doves Cry"
category Favorite Soul/R&B Album for "Purple Rain"
category Favorite Pop/Rock Album for "Purple Rain"
category Best R&B Song for "I Feel For You"
category Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Purple Rain" shared with The Revolution