Prince Rogers Nelson (born June 7, 1958) is an American musician. He performs under the mononym of Prince but has also been known by various other names, most notably the unpronounceable symbol which he used as his stage name between 1993 and 2000. During this period, he was usually referred to as The artist formerly known as Prince.
Prince is a songwriter and musician, having released several hundred songs both under his own name and with other artists. He has won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible in 2004. Rolling Stone ranked Prince #28 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2008.
Prince's musical palette covers many musical genres including R&B, soul, funk, rock, blues, new wave, psychedelia, folk, jazz and hip hop. Some of his influences are Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield, Parliament-Funkadelic, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. 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" (a hybrid mixture of funk, rock, pop, R&B & new wave) and have proved very influential.
Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to John L. Nelson and Matti Shaw. John was a pianist and songwriter, and Matti was a jazz singer. He was named after his father, whose stage name was Prince Rogers, and who performed with a jazz group called the Prince Rogers Trio. In a 1991 Current Affair interview, John L. stated, “I named my son Prince because I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do.” His childhood nickname was Skipper. As a child, Prince suffered from epilepsy. Prince's mother would later recall to him that he claimed during his childhood, "I'm not gonna be sick anymore, because an angel told me."
After the birth of his sister Tyka in 1960, Prince's parents gradually became estranged. After they separated formally (when Prince was ten), he had a troubled relationship with his stepfather that resulted in him going to live briefly with his father, then his father expelled him after finding him in bed with a female friend. Later he settled 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 during high school. (Smith would later be replaced by Morris Day.) His initial contributions were on piano and guitar, but he would share vocals with Anderson in what was mainly an instrumental band, playing clubs and parties in the Minneapolis area.
As time went by and Prince's musical interests increased, he began producing the arrangements for the band. Grand Central evolved into Champagne and started playing original music drawing on a range of influences including Sly & the Family Stone, James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, Miles Davis, Parliament-Funkadelic, Carlos Santana 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 (of The High Spirits), 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 as they were the only label to offer Prince creative control of his songs.
First steps: 1977–1980
Pepe Willie, husband of Prince's cousin, Shantel, was an early influence in Prince's career. Willie was mentor and manager for Prince during the Grand Central days, and he employed Prince for his own recordings. In 1977, Willie formed the band 94 East, with Marcy Ingvoldstad and Kristie Lazenberry that would later include Andre Cymone and Prince. Prince would compose most of the music for Willie's lyrics and typically played guitar and keyboards in the studio, while also contributing many songs for the group, including "Just Another Sucker." The band recorded an album, Minneapolis Genius – The Historic 1977 Recordings. Although it was not a solo album and was not commercially released until many years later, it is considered Prince's first professional album. For unknown reasons, Prince does not acknowledge the existence of this album. In 1995, the original recordings with Prince and Cymone were released by Willie as 94 East featuring Prince, Symbolic Beginning.
Prince released his first major-label album, For You, on April 17, 1978. 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." Like most albums in his career, For You was recorded without a band; Prince reportedly played all 27 instruments on the album, though they were different types of string, percussion, and keyboard instruments.
Prince spent twice his initial advance recording the album, which sold modestly and charted low on the Billboard 200, while the single "Soft and Wet" performed well on the R&B charts. Prince used Prince's Music Co. for publishing 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 childhood friend Andre Anderson, rechristened André Cymone, on bass, Dez Dickerson on guitar, Gayle Chapman and Doctor Fink on keyboards, and Bobby Z on drums. Prince intentionally enlisted a multi-racial, mixed-gender group, much like the band put together by one of his greatest influences, Sly Stone. They had their first shows at the Capri Theatre on January 5 and 6th in 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 Del’s Tyre Mart.
In October 1979, Prince released his self-titled album Prince, which scored #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 successes were performed on January 26, 1980, on American Bandstand with this first backing band. Legend has it that Prince became annoyed when, during the interview segment, host Dick Clark expressed surprise that Prince and his bandmates were from Minneapolis "of all places". 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 disconcert Dick Clark. 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 his next album Dirty Mind. Prince was certified gold status, while the single "I Wanna Be Your Lover" hit #11 on the Billboard Top 100 and reached #1 on the R&B charts. Prince opened for Rick James' 1980 Fire it Up tour with the label "punk funk" being applied to both artists, although it reportedly didn't sit comfortably with Prince.
Controversy era: 1980–1984
Prince gained critical acclaim with his 1980 release of Dirty Mind, again entirely self-recorded and released using the demos of the songs. Dirty Mind is particularly notable for its sexually explicit material, in particular the title track, "Head", and controversial "Sister". During this period, Prince began to attract attention for the clothes he wore on-stage: a trench coat, high-heeled shoes, boots and black bikini briefs and tended to flaunt and express an intense sexuality on-stage. On tour, Lisa Coleman replaced keyboardist Gayle Chapman in the band, who felt the sexually explicit lyrics and stage antics of Prince's concerts conflicted with her religious beliefs.
His stylistic choices brought him trouble as an opening act for The Rolling Stones for 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, eventually booed off the stage. These shows occurred just before the release of Controversy and also when he was training his new bassist Mark Brown (later BrownMark), who was then just 18 years old and a recent high school graduate.
Soon after he released the album Controversy, with the single of the same name charting internationally for the first time. In February 1981, Prince made his first appearance on Saturday Night Live performing "Partyup". 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.
In 1981, Prince formed a "side project" (a misnomer label, given that his band was only used for performances and contributed little to 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, with the lead vocals handled by Morris Day.
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.
The Revolution: 1984–1987
Around this time Prince began crediting his band as The Revolution. The band's name was printed in reverse on the cover of 1999 and became official with the following album, Purple Rain.
The band consisted of Lisa Coleman and Doctor Fink on keyboards, Bobby Z. on drums, and Brown Mark on bass, and initially Dez Dickerson on guitar. Following the 1999 tour, Dickerson left the group for religious reasons and 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.
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.
Multiple songs including Purple Rain, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy", topped the US pop singles chart 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" that Tipper Gore overheard her twelve-year-old daughter, Karenna, listening that inspired her to found the Parents Music Resource Center. The center has advocated 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. The recording industry voluntarily complied with their request in response to the Senate hearings.
In 1985, after the successful Purple Rain Tour, 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 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.
Prince released the album Parade in 1986. The album hit #3 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the R&B charts. The first single, "Kiss", would top the Billboard Hot 100. The song was originally written for another Prince side project, Mazarati. At the same time, another song originally written for Apollonia 6, "Manic Monday" by The Bangles, reached #2 on the Hot 100.
Parade served as the soundtrack for Prince's second film Under the Cherry Moon. Prince both directed and starred in the movie, that also featured Kristen Scott Thomas as his love interest, Mary Sharon, in her first feature film role. Following the film and album release, Prince returned to touring with several spot concert shows in the U.S., dubbed the "Hit N Run Tour" and embarked on his first full scale European tour in the summer of 1986, and ending the tour in September with his first appearance in Japan.
At the end of the Hit N Run - Parade Tour, Prince disbanded The Revolution, as he fired Wendy and Lisa, replaced Bobby Z. with Sheila E., and Brown Mark quit, having wanted to leave before the Hit N Run Tour. All that remained of the original line-up was keyboardist Matt Fink. Brought in to replace them were Miko Weaver on guitar, Atlanta Bliss on trumpet, Eric Leeds on saxophone, (all of whom had joined the expanded "Counter-Revolution" line-up on the Hit N Run Tour) Boni Boyer on keyboards, Levi Seacer, Jr. on bass, as well as dancer and love interest, Cat Glover.
Solo again and spiritual rebirth: 1987–1991
Prior to the disbanding of the Revolution, Prince was working on two separate projects. The Revolution album, Dream Factory and a solo effort, Camille. Unlike the three previous band albums, Dream Factory included significant input from the band members and even featured a number of songs with lead vocals by Wendy and Lisa, while the Camille project saw Prince create a new persona primarily singing in a sped up, female-sounding voice. With the dismissal of The Revolution, Prince consolidated material from both shelved albums, along with some new songs, into a three-LP album to be titled Crystal Ball. However, with the low sales of his previous two albums, Warner forced Prince to make the release a double album and Sign o' the Times was released on March 31, 1987.
The album peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The first single, "Sign o' the Times", would chart at #3 on the Hot 100. The follow-up single, "If I Was Your Girlfriend" charted poorly at #67 on the Hot 100, but went to #12 on R&B chart. The third single, a duet with Sheena Easton, "U Got the Look" charted at #2 on the Hot 100, #11 on the R&B chart, and the final single "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" finished at #10 on Hot 100 and #14 on the R&B chart.
Despite the album receiving the greatest critical acclaim of any album in Prince's career, including being named the top album of the year by the Pazz & Jop critics' poll, album sales steadily declined, although it eventually sold 3.2 million copies. In Europe however, it performed well and Prince promoted the album overseas with a lengthy tour. Putting together a new backing band from the remnants of the Revolution, Prince added bassist Levi Seacer, Jr., Boni Boyer on keyboards, and dancer/choreographer Cat Glover to go with new drummer Sheila E. and holdovers Miko Weaver, Doctor Fink, Eric Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, and the Bodyguards (Jerome, Wally Safford, and Greg Brooks) for the Sign o' the Times Tour.
The tour was a huge success overseas with Warner and Prince's managers wanting to bring it to the U.S. to resuscitate sagging sales of Sign o' the Times, however Prince balked at a full U.S. tour, as he was ready to produce a new album. A compromise was made where he filmed the last two nights of the tour to be released in movie theaters as a concert film. Unfortunately, the film quality was deemed subpar and reshoots were performed at his Paisley Park studios. The film Sign o' the Times was released on November 20, 1987. Much like the album, the film was critically praised, (at least more than the previous year's Under the Cherry Moon) however its box office receipts were minimal and it quickly left theaters.
The next album intended for release was to be The Black Album. More instrumental and funk and R&B themed than recent releases, The Black Album also saw Prince experiment with rap on the songs "Bob George" and "Dead on It". Prince was set to release the album with a complete monochromatic black cover with only the catalog number printed, but at the last minute, even though 500,000 copies had been pressed, Prince had a spiritual epiphany that the album was evil and had it recalled. (Although it would later be released by Warner Bros. as a limited edition album in 1994.) Prince went back in the studio for eight weeks and recorded Lovesexy.
Released on May 10, 1988, Lovesexy serves as a spiritual opposite to the dark The Black Album. Every song is a solo effort by Prince, with exception of "Eye No" which was recorded with his backing band at the time, dubbed the "Lovesexy Band" by fans. Lovesexy would reach #11 on the Billboard 200 and #5 on the R&B albums chart. The lead single, "Alphabet St.", peaked at #8 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the R&B chart, but finished with only selling 750,000 copies.
Prince again took his post-Revolution backing band (minus the Bodyguards) on a three leg, 84-show Lovesexy World Tour; that although played to huge crowds and were well received shows, financially lost money due to the expensive sets and props incorporated.
In 1989, Prince appeared on Madonna's studio album Like a Prayer, co-writing and singing the duet "Love Song" and playing electric guitar (uncredited) on the songs "Like a Prayer", "Keep It Together", and "Act of Contrition". He also began work on a number of musical projects, including Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic and early drafts of his Graffiti Bridge film, but both were put on hold when he was asked by Batman director Tim Burton to record several songs for the upcoming live-action adaptation. Prince went into the studio and produced an entire 9-track album that Warner released on June 20, 1989. Batman peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200, selling 4.3 million copies. The single "Batdance" topped the Billboard and R&B charts. Additionally, the singles "Partyman" (also featuring the vocals of Prince's then girlfriend, nicknamed Anna Fantastic) charted at #18 on the Hot 100 and at #5 on the R&B chart, while the love ballad "Scandalous" went to #5 on the R&B chart. However, he did have to sign away all publishing rights to the songs on the album to Warner Bros. as part of the deal to do the soundtrack.
In 1990, Prince went back on tour with a revamped band for his stripped down, back-to-basics Nude Tour. With the departures of Boni Boyer, Sheila E., the horns, and Cat, Prince brought in Rosie Gaines on keys, drummer Michael Bland, and dancing trio, The Game Boyz, Tony M., Kirky J., and Damon Dickson. The European and Japanese tour was a financial success with its short, greatest hits setlist. As the year progressed, Prince finished production on his fourth film, Graffiti Bridge and the album of the same name. Initially, Warner Bros. was reluctant to fund the film, however with Prince's assurances it would be a sequel to Purple Rain as well as the involvement of the original members of The Time, the studio greenlit the project. Released on August 20, 1990, the album reached #6 on the Billboard 200 and R&B albums chart. The single "Thieves in the Temple" reaching #6 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart. The film, released on November 20, 1990, was a critical and box office flop, grossing just $4.2 million. After the release of the film and album, the last remaining members of the Revolution, Miko Weaver and Doctor Fink left Prince's band.
NPG and name change: 1991–1994
1991 marked the debut of Prince's new band, the New Power Generation. With guitarist Miko Weaver and long-time keyboardist Doctor Fink gone, Prince added bass player Sonny T., Tommy Barbarella on keyboards, and a brass section known as the Hornheadz to go along with Levi Seacer (taking over on guitar), Rosie Gaines, Michael Bland, and the Game Boyz. With significant input from his band members, Diamonds and Pearls was released on October 1, 1991. Reaching #3 on the Billboard 200 Diamonds and Pearls saw the singles "Gett Off" chart at #21 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B charts while "Cream" gave Prince his fifth US number one single.
1992 saw Prince and the New Power Generation release his twelfth album untitled, bearing only an unpronounceable symbol on the cover (later copyrighted as Love Symbol #2). O(+> would peak at #5 on the Billboard 200. While the label wanted "7" to be the first single, Prince fought to have "My Name Is Prince" as he "felt that the song's more hip-hoppery would appeal to the same audience" that had purchased the previous album. Prince got his way but "My Name Is Prince" only managed to reach #36 on Billboard Hot 100 and #23 on the R&B chart. The follow-up single "Sexy M.F." fared worse, charting at #66 on the Hot 100 and #76 on the R&B chart. The label's preferred lead single choice "7" would be the album's lone top ten hit reaching #7. O(+> would go on to sell 2.8 million copies worldwide.
After two failed attempts in 1990 and 1991, Warner Bros. finally released a greatest hits compilation with the three-disc The Hits/The B-Sides in 1993. 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" and other songs that appeared on the Batman soundtrack), 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" and a live recording of "Nothing Compares 2 U" with Rosie Gaines. Two new songs, "Pink Cashmere" and "Peach", were chosen as promotional singles to accompany the compilation album.
1993 also marked the year in which Prince changed his stage name to the Love Symbol, which is a combination of the symbols for male (?) and female (?). Because the symbol was and is unpronounceable, he was often referred to as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince".
Increased output: 1994–2000
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 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 #1 on the U.S. 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 on 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 disc was exactly 60 minutes long) lacked focus, and might have worked better as a single or double disc set. 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 5-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 retail edition has only four discs, as it is missing the "Kamasutra" disk. There are also two different packaging editions for retail, one being in a 4-disc sized jewel case with a simplistic white cover and the love symbol in a colored circle; the other is all four discs in a round translucent snap jewel case. The discs are the same, as is the CD jacket. The Newpower Soul album released three months later failed to make much of an impression on the charts. His collaboration on Chaka Khan's Come 2 My House, and Larry Graham's GCS2000, both released on the NPG Records label around the same time as Newpower Soul met with the same fate, despite heavy promotion and live appearances on Vibe with Sinbad, and the NBC Today show's Summer Concert Series.
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 easily gave more interviews than at any other point in his career, appearing on MTV's Total Request Live (with his album cover on the front of the Virgin Megastore, in the background on TRL throughout the whole show), Larry King Live (with Larry Graham) and other media outlets. Nevertheless, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic failed to perform well 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 December 18, 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 May 16, 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. (There was a brief period when he would be referred to as "The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince".) 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 February 8, 2004, Prince appeared at the Grammy Awards with Beyoncé Knowles. In a performance that opened the show, Prince and Knowles performed a medley of "Purple Rain", "Let's Go Crazy", "Baby I'm a Star", and Knowles' "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.
On February 19, The Tavis Smiley Show broadcast included a performance of "Reflection" from Prince's Musicology album. Prince was accompanied by Wendy Melvoin, formerly of the Revolution.
In April 2004, Prince released Musicology through a one-album agreement with Columbia Records. The album rose as high as the top five on a number of international charts (including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia). The US chart success was assisted by the CD being included as part of the concert ticket purchase, and each CD thereby qualifying (as chart rules then stood) towards US chart placement.
That same year, Rolling Stone magazine named Prince as the highest-earning musician in the world, with an annual income of $56.5 million, largely due to his Musicology Tour, which Pollstar named as the top concert draw among musicians in USA. 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.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city of New Orleans on August 29, 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 September 2. 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.
Move to Universal: 2005–2006
In late 2005 Prince signed with Universal Records to release his album, 3121, on March 21, 2006, (3/21). The first single was the Latin-tinged "Te Amo Corazón", the video for which was directed by actress Salma Hayek and filmed in Marrakech, Morocco, featuring Argentine actress and singer Mía Maestro. The song was covered by Viktoria Tolstoy on her album Pictures of Me, along with another Prince song, "Strollin'". The video for the second single, "Black Sweat", was nominated at the MTV VMAs for Best Cinematography. The immediate success of 3121 gave Prince his first #1 debut on the Billboard 200 with the album.
To promote the new album, Prince was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on February 4, 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.
On June 12, 2006, Prince received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his "visionary" use of the Intern
Biography from Wikipedia