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Prince Biography

Home > Music > P > Prince > Biography

Birth Name: Prince Rogers Nelson
Born: 1958/06/07
Birth Place: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Years Active: 1976–present
Genres: Funk, R&B, Rock, Pop, Alternative, New Wave, Minneapolis Sound

Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson, June 7, 1958), is a singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. He has been known by an unpronounceable symbol, which he used between 1993 and 2000. During that period he was frequently referred to in the media as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince,” often abbreviated to “TAFKAP,” or simply “The Artist.”

Prince has produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. Prince founded his own recording studio and label, writing, self-producing and playing most, or all, of the instruments on his recordings. In addition, Prince has been a “talent promoter” for the careers of Sheila E., Carmen Electra, The Time and Vanity 6, and has written songs for these artists and others (including Chaka Khan, The Bangles, and Sinéad O'Connor). He has won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year he was eligible.

Prince's music has been influenced by rock, R&B, soul, funk, rap, blues, New Wave, electronica, disco, psychedelia, folk, jazz, and hip hop. Prince pioneered the “Minneapolis sound,” a hybrid mixture of funk, rock, pop, R&B and New Wave that has influenced many other musicians.

Prince released his debut album “For You” in April 1978. The album was written and performed by Prince, except for the song “Soft and Wet” which had lyrics co-written by producer Chris Moon. The single from the album reached #12 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart and #92 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. The song “Just as Long as We're Together” reached #91 on the Hot Soul Singles chart.

In late 1982, Prince released a double album, “1999,” which sold over three million copies. The title track was a protest against nuclear proliferation and became his first Top 10 hit in countries outside the U.S. Prince's “Little Red Corvette” was one of the first two videos by a black artist played in heavy rotation on MTV, along with Michael Jackson's “Billie Jean.” The song “Delirious” also placed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

During this period Prince referred to his band as The Revolution. Prince's 1984 album “Purple Rain” sold more than 13 million copies in the U.S. and spent 24 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The film of the same name won an Academy Award for Best Original Score and grossed more than $80 million in the U.S. Songs from the film were hits on pop charts around the world, while “When Doves Cry” and “Let's Go Crazy” reached #1 and the title track reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. At one point in 1984, Prince simultaneously had the #1 album, single, and film in the U.S. – it was the first time a singer had achieved this feat.

In 1986 his album “Parade” reached #3 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the R&B charts. The first single, “Kiss,” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Around this time he disbanded The Revolution. 1987’s “Sign 'O' The Times” was Prince's first solo album following his departure from The Revolution.

1991 marked the debut of Prince's new band, The New Power Generation. With significant input from his band members, “Diamonds and Pearls” was released in 1991. Reaching #3 on the Billboard 200, “Diamonds and Pearls” saw four hit singles released in the U.S. “Gett Off” peaked at #21 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B charts, followed by “Cream” which gave Prince his fifth U.S. #1 single. The title track “Diamonds and Pearls” became the album's third single, reaching #3 on the Hot 100 and the #1 on the R&B charts. “Money Don't Matter 2 Night” peaked at #23 and #14 on the Hot 100 and R&B charts respectively.

1992 saw Prince and The New Power Generation release his twelfth album, “Love Symbol Album,” bearing only an unpronounceable symbol on the cover (later copyrighted as “Love Symbol #2”). The album, generally referred to as the “Love Symbol Album,” would peak at #5 on the Billboard 200 and went on to sell 2.8 million copies worldwide.

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. He quickly and consecutively released “The Black Album, “Come,” “The Gold Experience,” and “Chaos and Disorder” in 1994 and 1995 in order to complete his obligation to Warner Bros.

He released “Emancipation,” a 36-song, three-album set, via his own NPG Records with distribution through EMI. Certified platinum by the RIAA, “Emancipation” was the first record featuring covers by Prince of songs by other artists. Prince released “Crystal Ball,” a five-album collection of unreleased material, in 1998. The “Newpower Soul” album released three months later failed to make much of an impression on the charts.

In May 2000, Prince ceased using the “Love Symbol” moniker and returned to using “Prince” again. Two albums that show substantive jazz influence were released: 2001's “The Rainbow Children,” and the 2003 instrumental record “N.E.W.S” which was nominated for a Best Pop Instrumental Album Grammy Award.

In April 2004, Prince released “Musicology” through a one-album agreement with Columbia Records. The album rose as high as the Top 5 on a number of international charts (including the U.S, U.K., Germany and Australia). “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.

In late 2005 Prince signed with Universal Records to release his album, “3121,” in March 2006. The immediate success of “3121” gave Prince his first #1 debut on the Billboard 200. Prince released a triple album set containing “LOtUSFLOW3R,” “MPLSoUND,” and an album credited to his new protege, Bria Valente, called “Elixer,” in March 2009.

Prince released his album “20Ten” in July 2010 as a free covermount to publications in the U.K, Belgium, Germany, and France.