15 Princest Facts About Prince
Before he became another tragic victim of 2016, it cannot be said that Prince didn’t Prince the absolute shit out of his time on this plane of existence. He was one of those people who, whenever they showed up, you always knew was going to leave everyone in the room with an incredible story to tell later. He was simply too purple for this world.
His Real Name is Prince
If any name sounds like it was invented for MTV, it’s “Prince,” and it technically was. “Prince Rogers” was the stage name of John L. Nelson, so when his son was born, he named him Prince Rogers Nelson. Prince was literally born with a stage name.
His First Song
Prince told people he wrote his first song, “Funk Machine,” at age seven. If that’s true, it means little baby Prince actually invented funk, since the first documented use of the musical term didn’t occur until two years later. We would just assume that anybody else was lying, but this is Prince we’re talking about, so it’s entirely possible.
He Was the Youngest Producer at His Label
Prince’s first record contract was an unheard-of deal, worth six figures and three albums and granting the 17-year-old the right to produce himself, making him the youngest producer in the history of Warner Bros. Despite his later inextricability from Minneapolis culture, this was apparently surprising to folks back home, who had never heard of him because his “ambition was to be a national recording star and he did not want to wear out his talent in local clubs.”
He Was Obsessed With the Apocalypse
Prince songs tend to be about one of two (or both) things: sex or armageddon. Things were especially weighted toward apocalypse in the early years, with songs like “1999” and “Let’s Go Crazy” that sounded like they were about partying like it’s your last night on Earth but actually meaning it way too hard, explicitly referencing judgment day, the afterworld, and death. Even “Purple Rain” is actually about “the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/God guide you through the purple rain,” which is “blood in the sky” because “red + blue = purple.”
He’s the Reason We Have Warning Labels on CDs
You know those “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content” labels you’d see on CDs back when CDs existed? It was all because Tipper Gore bought her preteen daughter a copy of Purple Rain before she heard “Darling Nikki,” which she declared the filthiest song in the world when she lobbied record companies for warning labels. There’s no Grammy better than that.
He Wrote Most Songs
Not most of his own songs -- most of the songs that exist in the world. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but he was prolific writers of songs for other people, including “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor, “The Glamorous Life” by Sheila E., “I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan, “Jungle Love” by the Time, and “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” by Alicia Keys.
He Scrapped a Whole Album
In 1987, Prince was days away from releasing The Black Album when he went clubbing, took ecstacy, went home, saw his “miserable reflection” in the solid black cover of the album, had a “spiritual epiphany” that the album was an “evil force” that he blamed on a demonic entity he called “Spooky Electric,” and ordered his label not to release it. They actually agreed for seven years, although a few copies had leaked out that have become incredibly valuable, but when Warner Bros. forced Prince to release it in 1994, it totally flopped. When Prince tells you not to listen to the demons, you do it.
He Schooled Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson wrote “Bad” as a duet with Prince, who would have played the Wesley Snipes character in the music video, but Prince was put off by the lyrics. “The first line in that song is, ‘your butt is mine,’” he explained, “so I was saying, ‘Who gonna sing that to whom? Because you sure ain’t singing it to me, and I sure ain’t singing it to you.’ So right there, we got a problem.” Then, just to rub it in, he recorded his own version of the song and said “By the way, this is what it should be.”
He Went Door to Door for the Jehovah’s Witnesses
Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001, and if anyone would have gotten a pass on cold Godding, it would be him, but at least one Minneapolis-area woman reported Prince coming to her door to preach in 2003. After confirming that she wasn’t being Punk’d, she informed him she was Jewish, but he stayed for 25 minutes, “reading scriptures about being Jewish and the land of Israel,” before disappearing in a cloud of purple smoke, leaving only a pamphlet behind.
He Offered Tours of His Home
Paisley Park, the massive recording studio/concert hall/actual home where Prince lived in Minneapolis, now functions as a museum, but it’s not the first time it’s been open to the public. In 2000, anyone with $15 could take a tour of Prince’s compound of funk (at least the public areas, but it cannot be overstated that this was a man whose home had public areas), and he regularly held concerts there. For comparison, imagine, say, Harry Styles inviting fans to his house for a show. And Harry Styles is no Prince.
He Had His Own Vegas Nightclub
Plenty of musicians play residencies in Las Vegas these days, but that wasn’t good enough for Prince. He insisted on building his own nightclub for the purpose in 2006, playing two shows a week for six months before abruptly departing to tour and leaving behind a venue no one knew what to do with.
He Was Lawsuit-Happy
Prince was famously protective of his intellectual property, and that extended as far as suing 22 fans in 2014 for uploading footage of his concerts to the internet. You know, a massive percentage of what YouTube is. Another group of fans once held a Photoshop challenge to make fun of Prince’s habit of shooting DMCA notices into the universe only to be served with DMCA notices.
He Routinely Took Over Random Hair Salons
When Prince was on the road and needed a follicular refresh, his personal stylist would just find a salon in town willing to shut down for a day and black out their windows to do his hair, which was presumably always the first one they called. After he was spotted entering one such salon in 1984, the surrounding streets had to be closed down because fans erupted into a near riot.
His Symbol “Entered His Consciousness During Meditation”
Everyone knows that Prince changed his name for a minute in the ‘90s to an unpronounceable symbol as a legal tactic against his record label, but it wasn’t just a bunch of random squiggles. He felt a deep connection to the symbol that “entered his consciousness during meditation,” which he named “Love Symbol #2.” Was there a Love Symbol #1? No one knows. Of course, it was copyrighted.
He Has His Own Shade of Purple
The year after Prince’s death, Pantone announced the creation of a new shade of purple, matched exactly to the color of his own custom piano and named after his symbol. In true Prince fashion, it’s a Pantone exclusive, meaning no other paint brands can copy it.
Top image: Zarateman/Wikimedia Commons