Wednesday, July 3rd: PRINCE
Prince Rogers Nelson was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. With a career spanning four decades, Prince was known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, extravagant fashion sense and use of makeup, and wide vocal range. A multi-instrumentalist, he was considered a guitar virtuoso and was also skilled at playing the drums, percussion, bass, keyboards, and synthesizer. Prince pioneered the Minneapolis sound, which is a subgenre of funk rock with elements of synth-pop and new wave, in the late 1970s.
Prince was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and developed an interest in music as a young child; he wrote his first song, "Funk Machine", at the age of seven. He signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records at the age of 17, and released his debut album “For You” in 1978. His 1979 album “Prince” went platinum, and his next three albums—“Dirty Mind” (1980), “Controversy” (1981), and “1999” (1982)—continued his success, showcasing his prominently explicit lyrics and blending of funk, dance, and rock music. In 1984, he released “Purple Rain,” the soundtrack album to his film debut. It quickly became his most critically and commercially successful release, spending 24 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 and selling over 20 million copies worldwide.
In 1993, while in a contractual dispute with Warner Bros., he changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol and began releasing new albums at a faster rate to remove himself from contractual obligations. In 2000, he began referring to himself as "Prince" again. He released 16 albums after that, including the platinum-selling “Musicology” (2004). His 39th and final studio album, “Hit n Run Phase Two,” was released in 2015. Four months later, at the age of 57, Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Prince's innovative music integrated a wide variety of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, new wave, soul, psychedelia, and pop. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award for the 1984 film Purple Rain. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Prince’s collection of previously unreleased demos, “Originals,” was recently released and added to WYCE’s library.