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Prince was born on this date in 1958. He was a Black singer, producer, musician, and global multi-media entertainer.
Prince Rogers Nelson was from Minneapolis, MN, a graduate of Minneapolis Central High School, who taught himself to play a number of musical instruments. He also formed the soul-rock group Grand Central during high school. Prince self-produced his first LP, “For You,” in 1978. He then created his own recording label, Paisley Park. Prince's musical styles have been compared to James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and other R&B greats, but as his career grew, he carved out his own renowned status by delivering funk, rock, and soul with a special pop feel.
Prince scored a total of 11 number one songs and 22 top 10 hits on the pop charts. Prince released a number of LPs throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s while touring, writing, and producing for other artists and starring in a few movies. Although his first four LP releases were unpretentious hits with R&B audiences, they are considered some of his best work. During these years, Prince was allowed great independence from his record label, Warner Brothers, to create his own kind of music. He subsequently released “Prince” (1979), “Dirty Mind” (1980), “Controversy” (1981), and “1999” (1982). Prince’s 1984 soundtrack album “Purple Rain” was one of the biggest hits of the decade and it earned three Grammy Awards in 1985. From 1982 to 1986, he toured with his band, the Revolution.
In addition to providing music for many films, Prince directed and starred in “Under the Cherry Moon” (1986), the concert film “Sign O' the Times” (1987), and “Graffiti Bridge” (1990). Other Prince albums include “Around the World in a Day” (1985), “Parade” (1986), and “Lovesexy” (1988). He also released a successful soundtrack album for the 1989 motion picture “Batman.” Prince formed the New Power Generation, an eight-piece band, for his 1991 album “Diamonds and Pearls.” He continued to record and release music through the 1990s, including “The Gold Experience” (1995). In 1993, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, because of a contract dispute with his record label.
In 1996, he married dancer, Mayte Garcia. During this time, he recorded “Emancipation” (1996), and “New Power Soul” (1998). They had a son who died soon after the birth of a rare bone disorder. The two divorced in 1998. In 1999, he released “The Vault.” Also, that year, Prince reportedly tied the knot on New Year's Eve with Manuela Testolini, a 25-year-old Canadian from Toronto. In 2000, with the contract expired, the artist announced that he was changing his name back to Prince.
In 2001, he released “The Rainbow Children,” and a little over a year later, Prince released a three-CD set called “One Night Alone Live.” The following year he came out with the “E.P N.E.W.S.” Prince was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. He was the 'halftime' performer at the 2007 SuperBowl in Miami, FL.
In 2015 In Baltimore, he performed a free concert in support of the Freddie Gray death while in the custody of the Baltimore police department. He was more than a pop star. He was the living embodiment of the music itself; a genre-defying, gender-bending master who could play guitar like Jimi Hendrix, dress like Madonna, and get down with the spirit of James Brown. On April 21, 2016, Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead in his Minneapolis mansion.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
One Key Plaza
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
(East Ninth Street at Lake Erie)
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images
Image: Kevin Winter