So, Prince became another person.
In 1993, he announced he was no longer Prince and would henceforth be working only as an unpronounceable symbol. He told WB he would still provide them with his mandatory Prince albums, but that they had no right to claim the output of this new creature, whom baffled journalists referred to as "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince," presumably because you can't say "Coconut Fucking A Trumpet" in most news outlets.
Warner Bros. Records
If you pronounced it as "fart noises plus angry Tasmanian Devil babbling,"
you were as correct as anyone else.
Note: This is not how contract law works. It does seem like somebody should have told Prince that, somewhere along the way.
While Warner Bros. cobbled together a greatest hits record, Previously-Prince dove into some very expensive projects in non-recorded music media, such as a weird stage musical based on Homer's Odyssey, an ill-advised perfume called Get Wild, and sending entire crews to Egypt to film Carmen Electra videos that were never released (for an album that tanked). When it became clear that his renaming plan wasn't working out, he went over to Plan B: writing the world "SLAVE" on his right cheek and putting Warner Bros. on blast in a full-page ad in Billboard magazine. In the end, both sides lost millions, and Prince would later refer to the feud as the worst years of his life.
Peter Still/Redferns/Getty Images
He could barely concentrate on having freaky funky sex with the
three dozen supermodels living in his hot tub.
Prince kept the symbol until his contract expired in 2000, at which point he returned to using his actual name and eventually renegotiated a deal with Warner Bros. that gave him ownership of all his old music. Lesson: Crazy stunts like that always work out in the end. If you're Prince.