As many of you probably know, Prince died today of reasons that have not been discovered or released yet at this time. I know he was an incredible singer/songwriter/artist who was capable of doing so many awesomely creative things. He was a badass individual that I didn’t know enough about, but I sure do appreciate his music. I decided to do some research today and bring you 18 little known facts about the Man, the Myth, the Legend, the Artist.
1. The famous name evolution
Born Prince Rogers Nelson, Prince was nicknamed Skipper as a child. He was named Prince after his father’s stage name Prince Rogers under which he played with his jazz band called the Prince Rogers Trio.
In 1991, Prince got a bit of a brand makeover when he came out with his reorganized band called New Power Generation, followed by the release of their Love Symbol Album in 1992, the second album with the NPG. In ’93, he also changed his stage name to what would later become known as Love Symbol #2.
Look familiar? It was also the cover of the Love Symbol Album. It was an androgynous symbol representing the signs for both male and female. I remember being young then (8 years old to be exact) and thinking, why would he change his name to something no one can say? He was still known as Prince to everyone.
During the Love Symbol period, he was referred to as “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince” or for short, “The Artist”. During this time, some of his staff at Paisley Park referred to him lovingly as “the dude”.
He returned to “Prince” again in May of 2000.
Some other stage names he used through the years: Jamie Starr and The Starr Company, Joey Coco, the Minneapolis Midget, Paisley Park, Alexander Nevermind, and Christopher Tracy.
2. It was in the genes
Prince was born on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to mother Mattie Della Shaw and father John Lewis Nelson. Mattie was a jazz singer and John was a pianist and songwriter. Makes me seriously wonder to what extent artistry is in the genetics. Or maybe the inheritance of certain brain wrinkles?
3. Young talent
Prince wrote his first song on his father’s piano at only seven years old! Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was called “Funk Machine”.
I meeeeeeean, I’m positive that I was running around the woods pretending to be an Indian at this time of my life. Playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis. Saving my allowance for dumb new pencil erasers and pogs at the school store. Rolling down hills in a goddamn refrigerator box (this is true).
In other words, this is an extremely impressive feat. He was wayyyy ahead of his time!
4. Guardian angel
In a 2009 PBS interview, Prince revealed to the public for the first time that he grew up an epileptic and suffered seizures as a child. He said he was picked on in school and that was part of the reason he pushed to be so flamboyant and different. He then disclosed that his mother told him that one day he came up to her and said, “Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore.” “Why?” she asked. “Because an angel told me so,” he replied.
5. Team Blouses
As portrayed in Dave Chappelle’s skit, (if you have never watched this, I highly recommend it 😉 ) “This cat could ball, man!” Even if you have seen the skit, go ahead and watch it again; you can thank me later.
Prince played basketball in high school and he continued playing as an adult.
Also, short folks (like me) there is hope for us yet! Prince played all this basketball yet he was only 5’2″!
6. A Man of all Talents
Prince released his very first album titled For You on April 7, 1978. He produced, arranged, composed and played all 27 instruments on the album. He also wrote and performed every song on the album with the exception of one track, “Soft and Wet” which he co-wrote with his producer Chris Moon.
7. Making bounds
The video for Prince’s song “Little Red Corvette” was one of the first two videos by a black artist to be used heavily on MTV, alongside Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. This was his greatest hit at the time and he wrote it in between catnaps in his bandmate’s pink Edsel after a nocturnal recording session.
8. Breaking Records
During the week of July 27, 1984, Prince simultaneously had the number 1 album, single, and film in the United States. It was the first time a singer had accomplished this!
9. Louisiana Love
All four of Prince’s grandparents hail from Louisiana. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Prince wrote and played both instrumentals and vocals on two new songs in dedication to the fragile region, titled “S.S.T.” and “Brand New Orleans”. S.S.T. refers to sea surface temperature, used to monitor the threat of hurricanes.
10. The Purple Tickets
Just like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where there were five Golden tickets for the lucky winners to receive a tour of the factory, in 2006, Prince gave away Purple tickets for a private concert at his house. That year he included seven winning Purple Tickets in his most recent album, 3121, and gave away five more on the Internet and in contests. In May of that year, a total of 24 lucky people (guests included) got to experience the show of a lifetime!
Let’s just hope none of them challenged him to a game of HORSE.
But on that note, I wonder if they were offered any pancakes?
11. Internet Mogul
Also in 2006, Prince was awarded the Webby Lifetime Achievement Award for his “visionary” use of the Internet. He actually had released an album in 1997 titled Crystal Ball for exclusively Internet sales, the first (and probably only) of its kind. He did allow people to order it through a phone line as well: 1-800-NEW-FUNK.
Throughout his 38-year career, Prince released 39 studio albums, four live albums, six compilation albums, four with the NPG/NPG Orchestra, two Madhouse albums, and one remix album.
That’s an average of an album release a little over every 8 months! For 38 years! Let that sink in…
He also wrote over 600 songs which is more than the Beatles. A band of which Prince was a huge fan.
13. With a little help from our friends
Prince played alongside the primary artist on many popular songs. He wrote many, many more. Some of them include:
- Played guitar, wrote lyrics and sang backup on Madonna’s “Love Song”
- “Manic Monday” by the Bangles
- “I Feel for You” by Chaka Khan
- “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor
- “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks
- “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore” by Alicia Keys
14. If at first you don’t succeed…
On tour in the UK in 1987, Prince tried to get a baby grand piano up the stairs of the London’s Chelsea Harbour Hotel for him to practice on. After failing to make it work and acknowledging this as unacceptable, he wound up hiring a crane and brought it in through the window.
15. A new spin on marketing
In 2007, Prince gave away free copies of the album Planet Earth in an “imminent release” edition of the U.K. newspaper called Mail On Sunday. This surprising marketing move actually led to a 21-night run of sold out London tour dates.
16. Any heirs?
In 1996, Prince (then 37) married his 22-year-old backup singer and dancer Mayte Garcia. Almost nine months later, they had a son who they named Boy Gregory Nelson. The baby was unfortunately born with a congenital skeletal abnormality called Pfieffer Syndrome and he sadly died only a week later.
Prince had a female alter-ego whom he referred to as Camille. “She” is credited with the vocals on the feminine sounding “If I was Your Girlfriend” track from his Sign O the Times album, and also as the author of the Black Album.
18. No stranger to litigation
Throughout the years and the rise of the technological age making it easy for artists to be ripped off, Prince has noteably taken action and made words against many big organizations for offering his material for free, including YouTube, Facebook users, iTunes, and Vine.
So there you have it. A rundown of tons of facts about Prince. Now we’re all experts! Now I just ask that everyone take a quick moment to remember the Artist, his songs, and the fun you [obviously] had when these songs were playing.
In remembrance of Prince Rogers Nelson, June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016