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Prince, 2009

Prince Rogers Nelson (born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis , Minnesota , † April 21, 2016 in Chanhassen , Minnesota) was an American singer , composer , songwriter , multi-instrumentalist , record producer and actor .

Prince had been in the music business since 1978. In the 1980s in particular, he influenced the international music scene by combining different music genres. The stylistic spectrum of his music ranged from R&B , funk , soul , pop and rock to blues and jazz . Prince wrote his own lyrics , composed , arranged and produced his songs. He also played instruments such as guitar , electric bass , piano and keyboardand drums . For most of his studio recordings, he played all of the instruments himself.

Prince achieved his international breakthrough in 1984 with the single and the album Purple Rain for the film of the same name , in which he also played the lead role. During his lifetime, more than 100 million of his records were sold worldwide and Prince won seven Grammy Awards , an Oscar in 1985 and a Golden Globe Award in 2007 . In 2004 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame .

In the 1990s , Prince strongly championed the rights to his intellectual property , which he showed, among other things, by his resistance to record companies . Due to differences with his then record company Warner Bros. Records , he dropped his stage name from 1993 to 2000. During this time he carried a symbol as a pseudonym instead of a pronounceable name and was often referred to as " The Artist Formerly Known As Prince " or TAFKAP for short . After the end of his contract with Warner Bros. Records, the musician called himself Prince again in May 2000.

At the beginning of the 21st century he increasingly separated himself from the music industry and chose unconventional distribution channels for his phonograms; some of his albums were temporarily only available on the Internet or as a supplement to a commercial newspaper.

Posthumously , Barack Obama , Bono , Bruce Springsteen , Elton John , Madonna , Mark Knopfler , Michael Jordan and Mick Jagger paid tribute to Prince's career. Since 2018, all recorded music publications are the musician of The Prince Estate (dt .: The Princeton estate officially managed).


Childhood and adolescence

Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis in 1958. It was named after the stage name "Prince Rogers" of his father John Louis Nelson (born June 29, 1916 - August 25, 2001), who was a full-time employee of Honeywell International in Minneapolis and in his spare time on the local stage as a jazz pianist performed with his band The Prince Rogers Trio. During one of his appearances in Minneapolis in 1956, Nelson met the jazz singer Mattie Della Shaw (born November 11, 1933, † February 15, 2002), who had black and white ancestors. He hired her as a singer in his jazz band, and the two married on August 31, 1957. Nelson brought four children from his first marriage to his wife Vivian (1920–1973). Mattie Shaw also had a son (1953–2019) with her first husband (1918–1992).

The Anderson family home (2017), where Prince lived from 1973 to 1976

In a later interview, John L. Nelson stated that he had named the first son in his second marriage Prince so that he could do what Nelson had set for himself. On May 18, 1960, the Nelsons had their daughter Tyka Evene, who is Prince's only full sister.

The couple lived in a house in Minneapolis with seven children from three different relationships until they separated physically in 1965 and divorced on September 24, 1968. John L. Nelson moved out, and Prince stayed with his mother, who was in a relationship with Hayward Julius Baker (born September 23, 1915 - December 29, 2010) from 1967 and later married him. "I hated him from the start," Prince said of his stepfather in a later interview. In October 1970 Mattie Shaw and Baker had a son, who was one of Prince's six half-siblings .

Because of a dispute with Baker, Prince moved in with his biological father in 1970 at the age of twelve. But in 1972 John L. Nelson banished his son from the house because he had met a girl. From then on, Prince lived with his aunt, Nelson's sister, until he was finally taken in in 1973 by Bernadette Anderson (1932-2003). She was divorced and also had six children. Prince had already met her son André Simon Anderson (* 1958), who later called himself André Cymone, at school in 1965.

In June 1976 Prince graduated from Central High School , and in December 1976, at the age of 18, he moved into his first own apartment in Minneapolis.


Mayte Garcia, 2013

From August 1985 to the end of April 1986, the 160 cm tall singer Prince was engaged to Susannah Melvoin and lived with her in Chanhassen , Minnesota. From 1987 he was engaged to Sheila E. , who ended the relationship in 1988. The couple kept the partnership and engagement a secret at the time. It was not until September 2014 that Sheila E. made both public in her autobiography .

On August 8, 1990, Prince met the 15-year-old dancer Mayte Garcia at a tour concert in Mannheim . With the then underage Garcia Prince was then permanently in contact; he integrated her in 1992 as a dancer and background singer in his backing band The New Power Generation . The two married in Minneapolis on February 14, 1996, and the result was a son who was born in Minneapolis on October 16, 1996. The child was premature , suffered from Pfeiffer syndrome type 2 with physical and mental disabilities and died after a week on October 23, 1996. In August 1997, Garcia was pregnant again, but suffered a miscarriage three months later . In the summer of 1998, Prince and Garcia separated, who moved to Marbella into a mansion that Prince had bought for her. The marriage ended in divorce in May 2000.

The second time Prince married on December 31, 2001 in Hawaii , this time the Canadian Manuela Testolini (born September 19, 1976), whom he met in 1997 on his then Love-4-One-Another-Charities tour , where she as Consultant worked. The marriage remained childless and on May 24, 2006 Testolini filed for divorce.

From fall 2014 until his death, Prince was in a relationship with the singer Judith Hill , which Hill only announced on June 16, 2016 - two months after Prince's death. Prince rarely commented on reports and reports concerning his private life. He rigorously shielded it.


Immediately after Prince's death, fans adorned the fence at Paisley Park Studio, April 26, 2016

On the evening of April 14, 2016, around 11:30 p.m., Prince finished his second concert of the day at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. He lost consciousness on the night flight home, and his chartered private jet made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois at 1:00 a.m. , about a 60-minute flight before scheduled arrival in his hometown of Minneapolis . He had an overdose of the painkiller taken Percocet, a combination product of oxycodone - a strong opioid - and acetaminophen , followed him rescue personnel nor the on the airfield opioid antagonist naloxone administered as an antidote. He was then taken to a hospital. He had been a drug addict for years , according to The New York Times , and Sheila E. said after Prince's death that he suffered from hip and knee pain as a result of years of dancing in high heels .

Prince left Moline Hospital around 8:30 a.m. on April 15 and flew back to Minneapolis. On April 20, his management contacted California- based doctor Howard Kornfeld, who specializes in drug addiction patients, about a "major medical emergency" . Since Kornfeld was unable to attend, his son Andrew, a staff member and then a medical student, flew to Minneapolis to visit Prince the following day.

On April 21, 2016, Prince was found lifeless in an elevator in his Paisley Park studio in Chanhassen by his personal assistant and collaborator, Kirk Johnson, whereupon Andrew Kornfeld alerted the ambulance at 9:43 a.m. local time . An attempt at resuscitation was unsuccessful, and Prince was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. local time at the age of 57. The next day the body was cremated and Prince's urn is designed as a miniature model of his Paisley Park Studio, decorated with the purple symbol he wore as his artist name from 1993 to 2000. The urn is in the Paisley Park Studio, but can no longer be officially viewed.

On June 2, 2016, Minnesota coroners released the autopsy report ; The cause of death was found to be an overdose of the pain reliever, fentanyl , which Prince accidentally administered to himself. The death of the musician is called an accident. In August 2016, investigators announced they had found tablets during a search on April 21, 2016 at 2:28 p.m. local time in Paisley Park Studio, which, according to the drug packaging, was the pain reliever hydrocodone ; In fact, the tablets contained the much stronger opioid fentanyl, for which Prince had no prescription. Doctors did not write out the prescriptions under his real name , but used an alias for Prince in order to conceal his true identity. The evidence says there is nothing to indicate that Prince knowingly took fentanyl. Where the musician got the fake painkillers from could not be clarified.

Two years after Prince's death, prosecutors closed their investigation on April 19, 2018 without charge; no evidence of malicious motive, crime, premeditation or conspiracy has been found. Following the prosecution's investigation, Prince's family filed lawsuits against the musician's doctors, all of which were dismissed by the US courts in late 2019.


Musical beginnings

When Prince's father, John L. Nelson, moved away from his family, he left his piano at home. Prince used this to learn to play the piano himself. When he lived with André Anderson's family from 1973, the two young people did a lot together and learned to play guitar, electric bass, keyboards, drums and later also synthesizers. Together with a second cousin of Prince they formed their first band, Phoenix. It was named after a 1972 album by the band Grand Funk Railroad , and Prince did the vocals and played the electric guitar. After Phoenix was renamed Soul Explosion, Grand Central Corporation became the band's new name in 1974. She covered songs by well-known artists. The drums at Grand Central Corporation took over in the same year Morris Day, who later became the lead singer of the band The Time . In 1975 Prince was hired by the musician Pepé Willie (* 1948) as a studio musician and recorded various songs with his band 94 East, which were only released on the album Minneapolis Genius in 1986 .

In the spring of 1976, Grand Central Corporation was renamed Shampayne and Prince recorded more songs with the band at the MoonSound studio in Minneapolis. This studio belonged to the native Englishman Chris Moon (* 1952), who wrote poems and texts that he wanted to set to music. Prince helped him and in return was allowed to record his own music in the MoonSound studio for free. This enabled him to further develop his knowledge of sound engineering and also to train as a musician. The band Champagne broke up during this time. Chris Moon advised Prince to drop his surname Nelson and use the stage name "Prince". However, Moon declined to become Prince's manager . Instead, he contacted Owen Husney (* 1947), owner of an advertising agency in Minneapolis, and played him songs by Prince. In December 1976 Husney became Prince's first manager by contract, and in early April 1977 the two flew to California. There Husney had organized meetings with representatives from various record companies in order to conclude an artist contract for Prince. On June 25, 1977 Prince signed his first record deal with Warner Bros. Records , which among other things guaranteed him a budget of 180,000 US dollars for the first three albums. Prince was under contract with Warner Bros. Records until December 31, 1999.

The first steps in the music business (1978–1981)

The debut album For You was released in April 1978. However, the album was not commercially successful, it failed to achieve gold status in the USA. In addition, the production costs were so high that the budget of 180,000 US dollars planned for the first three albums was almost used up with the first.

In the spring of 1979, Prince hired the management agency Bob Cavallo and Joe Ruffalo, also jokingly called Spaghetti Inc. at the time because of their Italian origins. Together with partner Steve Fargnoli (1949–2001), they assumed advisory functions for the artist until December 31, 1988. His second album, Prince, was much more successful than his first, but Prince saw it as a concession to popular musical tastes. He himself would have preferred to take other musical directions and try new things.

In 1980 his third album Dirty Mind was released , with which Prince finally said goodbye to the image of possibly becoming the new Stevie Wonder . He parted with his afro look and got a short hairstyle. In addition, during this time he often appeared in public in a thong and trench coat , combined with overknees stockings and high heels . In terms of music, Prince became increasingly willing to experiment and devoted himself to musical styles that did not appear on his first two albums.

Prince's music contained different styles and thus did not appeal to a clear target group . His androgynous appearance and unusual clothing style gave Prince the image of an eccentric at an early stage . His sometimes very lewd lyrics and his media aversion also made him seem mysterious. In one of his rare interviews at the time, Prince said he was "really very shy" of strangers. From 1982 to 1990 he only gave five interviews.

The national and international breakthrough (1982–1986)

Prince, 1984

The double album 1999 released in October 1982 did not initially play a major role in the US charts until the TV station MTV in December 1982 included the music video for the single 1999 in its rotation . The album and the singles Little Red Corvette and Delirious were Prince's first top ten placements in the United States in 1983. With that he had achieved the commercial breakthrough and the crossover on a national level.

But behind the scenes there was tension between him and his band members. Prince was shielded by a personal bodyguard . He was only still together with his musicians during live performances. In August 1983, Prince finally presented a new backing band and named it The Revolution .

1984 was the most commercially successful year of Prince's career. The album Purple Rain was released and was number one on the US album charts for 24 consecutive weeks. It also won two Grammy Awards . The pre-release single When Doves Cry was number one in the US single charts for five weeks. The Purple Rain tour became the most successful tour in Prince's career; for the music film Purple Rain he received an Oscar for best film music . Prince also had a commercial breakthrough internationally. The rock ballad Purple Rain and the album of the same name achieved top ten placements in a number of countries. With 25 million records, Purple Rain is Prince's best-selling album worldwide.

Meanwhile, Prince put more emphasis on choreography in his performances ; idiosyncratic costumes continued to be part of his image. What was striking about Prince's stage outfit in 1984 and 1985 were, in addition to his high heels, tight trousers with ruffled shirts and lace cuffs and a purple trench coat.

Immediately after the American Music Awards ceremony on January 28, 1985, when Prince won in three categories, numerous musicians met to record the song We Are the World for the USA for Africa music project . A line of text was reserved for Prince and a seat was reserved in the studio so that he could sing it right next to Michael Jackson . However, Prince did not appear without giving a reason and instead later contributed his own song for the album. In doing so, he cemented his reputation as an egocentric .

In 1985, Prince founded the music label Paisley Park Records with the financial contribution of Warner Bros. Records. His album Around the World in a Day was released on this label in the same year . It failed to reach Purple Rain sales , but was number one on the US album charts for three weeks. At the end of March 1986 Parade was released , the last album that Prince recorded in collaboration with The Revolution. With Kiss, it contains one of his most successful singles. Parade serves as the soundtrack of Prince's second film, Under the Cherry Moon , which, however, nowhere near the success of the film Purple Rain . On October 17, 1986, the split from The Revolution was officially announced.

Sign "☮" the Times until the name change (1987–1992)

In March 1987, the double album Sign "☮" the Times was released , which, according to critics, represents a high point in Prince's musical oeuvre. During this time, Warner Bros. Records wanted Prince to go on tour in the USA, but he refused.

The Paisley Park Studio (2015) opened on September 11, 1987

On September 11, 1987, Prince opened the Paisley Park Studio in Chanhassen , Minnesota, then a ten million US dollar building complex . The property was his main private residence and music studio until his death and had various recording studios as well as rooms for concert, video and film recordings. Posthumously , the Paisley Park Studio will charge you officially visited. Prince's half-sister Sharon Nelson (* 1940) said: “He wanted it to be a museum . All items are strategically placed. The fans will see that. Prince planned it exactly. He had a vision and he implemented it. "

Prince's next album should have been released in December 1987 under the name Black Album . But a week before the release date, Prince canceled delivery of the album. In support of this, he said in 1990 that he had realized that one could die at any moment and that it would be judged by what one had left behind. The Black Album became one of the best-selling bootlegs in music history with over 250,000 copies before it was officially released by Warner Bros. Records in November 1994.

Despite good reviews for his final albums, Prince's popularity declined in the US in 1988 and his commercial success declined there. In contrast, its popularity grew in Europe. For the first time, Lovesexy, a Prince album sold better in Europe than in his home country.

When the movie Batman released in June 1989 , national commercial success returned for Prince. His album of the same name was released as the soundtrack for the movie and, like the single Batdance , was number one on the US charts. In the following year, his album Graffiti Bridge served as the soundtrack of his music film of the same name, but it was unsuccessful. Unlike the Batman film, Graffiti Bridge was rarely visited in cinemas. As a result, Prince dismissed his management at the end of 1990. He has had no manager since then and did his business on his own.

In late 1990, Prince founded his new backing band The New Power Generation , or The NPG for short. This band, whose line-up he changed over the years, supported him from then on with concerts and studio recordings. Thanks to the single successes Gett Off and Cream , his 13th album Diamonds and Pearls (1991) advanced to Prince's second best-selling album worldwide after Purple Rain . But similar to 1983, during the Diamonds and Pearls tour in 1992, behind the scenes tensions between Prince and his musicians arose. For example, the band rode a tour bus together, while Prince rode separately in a limousine with bodyguards and dancers.

On August 31, 1992, Prince extended his current contract with Warner Bros. Records for six more albums until December 31, 1999. All information about financial details of the contract are speculation, as there are only very different information about it, but no official reports . For the measured by Diamonds and Pearls moderate sales of the subsequent album Love Symbol Prince made 1992 the record company Warner Bros. Records responsible. He accused her of not promoting the album intensely enough. In addition, Prince generally disagreed with the record company about the sales strategy. This had urged him several times in the past not to release too many albums in a row in order not to oversaturate the music market with his music. Alan Leeds, then managing director of Paisley Park Studio, said of the musician after Prince's death in 2016: “But if something didn't work out as he wanted, he decided that the management and the record company were to blame and ignored decisions that he had met himself. "

The Nameless Time (1993-2000)

The ineffable symbol

In early 1993 there was finally an open conflict between Prince and Warner Bros. Records. The record company asked for a creative break and wanted to bring a greatest hits album from him on the market. Prince then saw himself restricted in his artistic freedom. On June 7, 1993, the musician's 35th birthday, Paisley Park Studio announced in a press release that Prince was changing his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol that he had copyrighted under the name "Love Symbol # 2" .

In his private environment, Prince did not mind when family members and long-time friends continued to call him "Prince", but in public he no longer wanted to be addressed by his old stage name. In the mass media he has now been called "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" - also called "TAFKAP" for short - or simply "The Artist" and Prince wrote the term " slave " on his cheek. As a reason he explained, "If you don't own your masters , you belong to the master." This statement alluded to the fact that Warner Bros. Records owned the copyrights to all songs that Prince recorded for them at the time . He feels "battered and restricted," said Prince in a 1994 interview.

In the following years, Prince distanced himself increasingly from the current contract with Warner Bros. Records. He himself only carried out minimal or no advertising for his albums and singles published by Warner. From 1993 Prince mainly delivered older and lower quality song material to the record company in order to fulfill the contract. Warner lawyers, however, refrained from suing the artist over it. A similar lawsuit brought by Geffen Records against Neil Young in 1983 had led to protracted litigation, and Warner Bros. Records feared possible damage to its image. In 1994 Warner Bros. Records ended the collaboration with Prince's label Paisley Park Records, whereupon the latter founded his label NPG Records that same year , which still exists today. In 1995, Prince snubbed Warner Bros. Records by stating that he had 50 new songs and had been working on an album called Emancipation for some time , which would be his first album when he was free. In the booklet of the album Chaos and Disorder (1996) the following text could be read: “ Originally intended 4 private use only, this compilation serves as the last original material recorded by O (+> 4 warner brothers records ” (German: “Originally only intended for private use, this compilation serves as the last original material that O (+> recorded for Warner Brothers Records ”).

Larry Graham, 2011

In the period from 1994 to 2000 Prince signed contracts with various other record companies under the name of the unpronounceable symbol, with which he - in parallel to the current contract with Warner Bros. Records - released several albums. In all of the record deals that Prince signed after his last signature with Warner Bros. Records, he secured the copyrights to his own songs. The albums that Prince brought out as a "symbol" for record companies such as EMI or Arista Records , he marketed very intensively. On the occasion of the release of the album Emancipation (1996), for example, Prince was a guest in the conversation on The Oprah Winfrey Show , and as part of the international advertising campaign for Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic (1999) he made his first appearance on German television as a musical guest in The Harald Schmidt Show .

On August 23, 1997, Prince met bassist Larry Graham at an aftershow in Nashville , Tennessee , after which a friendship developed between the two musicians. From 1998 Graham was a regular guest musician at Prince concerts and also worked as a studio musician on Prince productions. Graham was a Jehovah's Witness then as now ; Prince also joined this denomination in 2001 and remained a member until his death.

In January 1998 Prince released the album Crystal Ball . After years of differences with Warner Bros. Records, he now distinguished himself for the first time from the record industry in general: He sold his album exclusively on the Internet via his website at the time. A limited 5-CD set edition could be ordered there, which was only released on his own label, NPG Records.

On December 31, 1999, the contract with Warner Bros. Records ended, and on May 16, 2000, The Artist Formerly Known As Prince announced at a press conference in New York that it would return to its original stage name Prince.

Prince and the Internet (2001-2004)

After the contract with Warner Bros. Records ended, Prince did not work with any major label for more than four years . Instead, he created his website NPG Music in February 2001 , on which you could register as a lifelong member for a fee. With the help of this website, Prince carried out his music distribution from 2001 to early 2004. So he could decide for himself how many and which songs he wanted to release and when, as he was no longer dependent on the decisions of a record company. He was also able to make his music accessible more quickly, and some of his albums were only available for download .

For some albums, Prince also signed contracts with independent labels that sold the albums in the traditional way. NPG Music members could download or pre-order the albums for free sale four weeks before their regular release. Prince offered other options to members; For example, they were able to reserve the best seats for the One Nite Alone Tour (2002) via the website and had access to the sound checks that Prince usually gave before each concert.

Prince was honored with the Webby Lifetime Achievement Award for recognizing his use of the Internet. On the one hand, he was the first artist already established in the music industry to sell an album - Crystal Ball in 1998 - exclusively on the Internet ; on the other hand, he created NPG Music in 2001, a contact and sales platform that was new at the time. NPG Music, which not only served as the official website but was also a popular fan platform with its extensive information, chat and download options, closed Prince in July 2006.

The comeback (2004-2007)

Beyoncé, at the 2004 Grammy Awards

Prince's notoriety had fallen over the years and he was barely featured in the international charts when he made a comeback in 2004 . At the Grammy Awards in February 2004, he appeared with Beyoncé and sang his hit Purple Rain with her in a duet . The Grammy Awards were televised in various countries, so that international conversation started again.

In April 2004 Prince released his album Musicology . After five years, an album was released again that was marketed worldwide in the conventional way with the support of a major label, Columbia Records . Musicology achieved double platinum status in the United States and was awarded two Grammys . The Musicology tour was the world's most successful tour of 2004.

In 2006 Prince released the album 3121 on the Universal label , which received good reviews. After Purple Rain (1984), Around the World in a Day (1985) and Batman (1989), it was his fourth and last number one in the US album hit parade during his lifetime.

In early February 2007, Prince made a live appearance at halftime at Super Bowl XLI in Miami, Florida, reflecting his regained national popularity. The performance was followed by approximately 140 million US television viewers. Prince was also successful internationally; for example, the tickets for his performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 2007 were sold out within ten minutes.

Differentiation from the music industry (2007-2013)

Despite the regained success, Prince did not want to subordinate himself to any record company. The album Planet Earth , published by Sony BMG Music Entertainment at the end of July 2007 , received readers of the British Sunday newspaper The Mail on Sunday as a free supplement on July 15, 2007, because Prince had signed his own contract with this newspaper. Sony BMG Music England saw this as an affront and did not release the album Planet Earth in Great Britain.

Prince's stage at his 21 concerts in London in 2007 and on his Welcome 2 America tour in the USA in 2011

A year later, Prince published the Coffee Table Book 21 Nights . The 256-page photo book documents Prince's stay in London during his concert series from August to September 2007. The book also contains the CD Indigo Nights , a compilation of various aftershows in the indigO 2 music club , which Prince gave after the regular London concerts. Indigo Nights appeared exclusively as a book supplement and did not go on free CD sales.

In March 2009 the two albums Lotusflow3r and MPLSound were released , which were only available for purchase via Prince's website at the time and via the US retail chain Target Corporation , with which he had signed a contract. In doing so, Prince avoided record companies and organized his CD sales through alternative channels. He did extensive advertising for the albums in the USA and appeared on various television programs. Outside the USA, the albums were only available as imports at the time.

Prince's album 20Ten , released in July 2010, was sold in Germany, Austria and Switzerland exclusively as a supplement to the August issue of the music magazine Rolling Stone . In other European countries, too, the CD was only available as a newspaper supplement. With this, Prince once again set himself apart from the music industry and sold an album in a similar way as in 2007. After ten years, he again gave an interview to a British newspaper. He told the Daily Mirror newspaper that the Internet was "completely over". There will be no downloads of his new songs because he doubts the acceptance of the payment system. However, he thinks he's finding new ways to spread his music.

Although Prince signed a contract with the Swiss independent label Purple Music in October 2011, he said in September 2012 that he did not want to record a new album at the moment: “We are back on a single market . It seems crazy to me to come in with a new album. "

In December 2012, Prince formed a new backing band called 3rdEyeGirl . This band consisted of the three musicians Donna Grantis on electric guitar, Hannah Ford on drums and Ida Kristine Nielsen on electric bass.

Last creative phase (2014-2016)

Prince as a guest on the Arsenio Hall Show on March 4, 2014

Since Prince's record contract with the major label Universal , which had existed since 2005, ended on March 31, 2014 , he signed a new contract with Warner Bros. Records in April for a period of twelve months and returned to the label. According to the company, he now owned all the rights to songs that he had recorded for Warner. Nothing was disclosed about the financial details of the contract. At the end of September 2014, Prince released two studio albums on Warner Bros. Records, Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum . He also deleted his Facebook , Instagram and YouTube accounts at the end of November . Prince did not give an official reason for this.

In December 2015 Prince released his 39th studio album called HITnRUN Phase Two , which is his last album released during his lifetime. HITnRUN Phase Two was distributed through his own music label NPG Records .

On the evening of April 16, 2016, Prince made his last public appearance; he played two songs on the piano at a "dance party" in his Paisley Park Studio in Chanhassen and announced a new live album called Piano & A Microphone .



Since Prince had not written a will before his death , his biological sister Tyka Evene Nelson (* 1960) and his then five living half-siblings Sharon Louise Nelson (* 1940), Norrine Patricia Nelson (* 1941), John Rodger Nelson were married (* 1944), Alfred Alonzo Jackson (* July 6, 1953 - August 29, 2019) and Omarr Julius Baker (* 1970) appointed as heirs by court order. However, to date (2021), no legal decision has been made regarding the distribution of Prince's assets.

The competent probate court, Comerica Bank & Trust, puts Prince's estate (called "Estate" in the US) at $ 82.3 million, while the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) federal tax authority at $ 163.2 million ; For example, the IRS estimates Prince's stake in the music label he founded, NPG Records, at $ 46.5 million, rather than $ 19.5 million as reported by Comerica. In addition, the IRS believes Prince's copyrights to the songs he wrote are worth $ 36.9 million, not $ 21.2 million. Industry experts speak of a “classic battle of the experts” that “could take a few years”. The estimates of Prince's net worth , on the other hand, fluctuated between $ 100 million and $ 300 million (as of January 2021).

The Prince Estate (since 2018)

Troy Carter from The Prince Estate

Since 2018 all record releases are the artist of Comerica in collaboration with The Prince Estate (dt .: The Princeton estate officially managed). The curators of The Prince Estate are the Americans Troy Carter (* 1972) and Michael Howe; Carter was the former music manager of Lady Gaga and has also been a consultant at Spotify since September 2018 . Howe was Vice President of Warner Bros. Records from 2014 to 2017, responsible for the Artists and Repertoire department.

At the end of June 2018, The Prince Estate announced that major label Sony Music Entertainment had acquired the distribution rights for 35 previously released Prince albums. The contract had two phases: Upon signing the contract, Sony was able to release 23 albums that Prince released between 1995 and 2010, including singles, B-sides, remixes, non-album tracks, live recordings and music videos released during this period. The second phase begins in 2021 and includes 12 more Prince albums from 1978 to 1996 as well as songs from 2014 to 2015. Nothing was publicly known about the purchase price. Warner Bros. Records owns the distribution rights to Prince songs from 1978 to 1994 and from 2014 to 2015 until 2021.

In 2019, Michael Howe said it was "detective work" to catalog the Prince archives because many of the recordings were unlabeled. In addition, the amount of music that Prince produced and then discarded is "enormous". The archive has meanwhile been brought from the Paisley Park Studio in Minneapolis "to a secret and safe place in Hollywood ", where it is "very well guarded"; you could call it "a fortress," said Howe. Prince's heirs decide on any Prince publication in cooperation with The Prince Estate, he said. Howe is also in contact with some fan experts. However, many tapes are not in good condition because they "have been collecting dust for decades". But so far nothing has been “unsaved”. Howe knew that Prince had said several times that he was aware that the contents of his archive would be published posthumously. There would be enough material to release "many, many, many years of Prince albums". But the legal situation is not easy because different record companies and musicians are involved.

At the end of September 2020 The Prince Estate brought out Sign o 'the Times Deluxe, a new edition of Prince's ninth studio album Sign "☮" the Times , which the musician originally released in March 1987.


Since Prince's debut album For You in 1978, the phrase “ Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed by Prince ” (German: “Produced, arranged, composed and performed by Prince”) can be found on the records he has released almost as his trademark . Prince wrote all the lyrics and melodies of his songs, he also played many musical instruments on his studio albums himself. The accompanying musicians who supported him with the recording of his studio albums only played instruments such as bass, drums or guitar for individual songs. Regular guest musicians on Prince's studio albums have been Clare Fischer and Sheila E. since the 1980s, Candy Dulfer , Larry Graham and Maceo Parker since the 1990s and trombonist Greg Boyer since 2002 . Prince also worked with violinist Vanessa-Mae in 2003 and with former The Revolution members Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman in 2007 .

Musical style

The typical characteristic of Prince's musical work is its stylistic diversity. Firstly, he moved on very different musical terrains in his career, and secondly, he repeatedly linked different styles of music in his albums and songs. It can therefore not be assigned exclusively to a specific musical genre.

Prince's musical development began in the 1970s. As a teenager he played songs with his bands at the time, for example by artists such as Earth, Wind and Fire , Grand Funk Railroad , James Brown , Jimi Hendrix , Parliament , Sly & the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder . In addition, Prince was influenced by Carlos Santana and Joni Mitchell .

Prince guitar from 1989 in the Smithsonian Institution Building Museum

On his first two albums, For You (1978) and Prince (1979), R&B as well as funk , rock and pop with disco influences dominate. In the 1980s, Prince expanded his musical spectrum and became increasingly inventive in combining different musical styles. Songs from the new wave , rockabilly and rock 'n' roll genre were added on the albums Dirty Mind (1980) and Controversy (1981). 1999 (1982) and Purple Rain (1984) are also influenced by dance and electro funk . On Around the World in a Day (1985) Prince discovered the hippie era and created an album of psychedelic soul , psychedelic rock and R&B songs.

It was noticeable during this time that Prince initially did without standard instruments such as wind instruments that are typical of R&B music . Instead of the saxophone and trumpets , he used synthesizers . It was not until his album Parade (1986) that Prince used wind and string instruments - partly in collaboration with arranger Clare Fischer . At the same time, the first jazz influences appeared in his music. The stylistic spectrum of his album Sign "☮" the Times (1987) ranges from gospel and soul ballads to R&B and funk to rock. On the album Batman (1989) Prince used samples for the first time in some of his songs , which come from quotes from the Batman film.

In 1981 Prince used the Linn LM-1 as a drum computer for the first time and used it to record some of his songs up to and including 1987. Before and in the following years, he usually played the beats on drums . It was only on the albums Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic (1999) and 20Ten (2010) that Prince used the Linn LM-1, typical of the 1980s, for recording some of his songs. Another typical feature of his studio albums are guitar-heavy songs, which is why Prince has occasionally been compared to Jimi Hendrix, with Prince himself taking the view of sounding similar to Carlos Santana.

In the 1980s, Prince was considered a rebellious pioneer who was not afraid to combine different styles of music paired with sometimes very suggestive lyrics. But he gradually lost this reputation in the 1990s. In his albums Diamonds and Pearls (1991) and Love Symbol (1992) he devoted himself to music styles such as rap and hip-hop , which were increasingly influencing the international music scene at the time. Prince followed trends for the first time after setting some himself. Critics accused him of dwindling creativity in the 1990s. The unplugged album The Truth (1998), which was dominated by acoustic guitars , received little attention as it was only released through its websites at the time. The same was true for the album Crystal Ball (1998), which features songs from the blues and reggae genre, among other things .

At the beginning of the 21st century, Prince's albums were influenced by jazz . This includes The Rainbow Children (2001) as well as the instrumental fusion albums Xpectation , NEWS and C-Note in 2003 . The album One Nite Alone (2002) is again an acoustic album, this time Prince playing all the songs on the piano.

Since his 2004 album Musicology, Prince has returned to the mix of musical styles that made him known and successful in the 1980s; R&B, funk, soul, pop and rock elements, supported by wind and string instruments, were featured on the following albums.


Prince's lyrics are mostly about love, interpersonal relationships or sexuality . But also political and socially critical topics as well as religious and spiritual content appear in his texts.

Cautionary Note to all too clear lyrics, which in the US due to Darling Nikki was introduced

In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Prince devoted himself to various facets of sexuality in his lyrics, among other things. In 1979, for example, he sang about lesbian love in the song Bambi , and the lyrics of the album Dirty Mind (1980) were considered obscene at the time . Whether it was about the sexual act , allusions to oral intercourse or incest - Prince provoked on all levels. He made various use of metaphors in his texts . For example, the song Little Red Corvette (1982) seems to be about a vagina rather than a sports car . Cars and horses serve as metaphors for pleasure in this case. The song Darling Nikki from the album Purple Rain was decisive in 1984 for the introduction of the warning “ Parental Advisory - Explicit Lyrics ” on music publications in the USA on the initiative of Tipper Gore has been. Tipper Gore was snubbed when her then 11-year-old daughter heard a line of lyrics in the song related to masturbation . But Prince also picked up obscenities and indecentities in his lyrics in the years that followed. The single Sexy MF (1992) was mostly played in a censored version on the radio, because the word motherfucker appears in the chorus . As is clear from song titles like Orgasm (1994) and Pussy Control (1995), Prince did not shy away from lyrics with sexual content.

Since the 21st century, however, Prince distanced himself from his overly clear lyrics and no longer played corresponding songs live. In 2001 he stated in an interview that he wanted to remove all expletives from his lyrics. Since then, Prince has acted accordingly. Only on posthumous recordings can song lyrics with sexual content from him be heard again.

If his texts deal with political or socially critical content, Prince typically describes a situation or a topic without expressing his own opinion. For example, he addresses the murder of John Lennon in the song Annie Christian (1981) . In the songs 1999 (1982), America (1985) and Crystal Ball (1998) he describes fears of nuclear wars . Further apocalyptic tendencies can be found in the songs Sign "☮" the Times (1987), in which he sings about AIDS and the Challenger disaster , and Planet Earth (2007), in which he describes climate change . Prince also refers to the second Gulf War in the songs Money Don't Matter 2 Night (1991) and Live 4 Love (1991). In the song Cinnamon Girl (2004), Prince deals with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 .

In some of his lyrics, Prince devoted himself to religious and sometimes spiritual subjects. In the song Controversy (1981) he quoted the Lord's Prayer , and especially the lyrics of the album Lovesexy (1988) are influenced by mystical enlightenment and Christian motifs; they are about God, the devil, guilt and atonement. Prince sings about reincarnation in the song Dolphin (1995) , and allusions to Jehovah's Witnesses can be found on the concept album The Rainbow Children (2001) .


Characteristic for Prince was his sometimes high falsetto singing . Since Prince sings mostly with a very high head voice on his first two albums For You and Prince , the music magazine Rolling Stone compared his singing in 1979 with that of Smokey Robinson . Further examples of Prince's falsetto singing can be found on the singles Kiss (1986), The Most Beautiful Girl in the World (1994) and Breakdown (2014).

On some songs, Prince created a vocal effect that he called "Camille". The tape runs slower than normal during the vocal recording. Playing the tape at normal speed creates a pitch-shifting effect that makes Prince's voice sound a bit higher and faster, as if he were singing under the influence of helium . This vocal effect can be heard in some songs on the album Sign "☮" the Times (1987) in particular . "Camille" is interpreted as Prince's alter ego - his evil side. The opposite vocal effect to “Camille” means that Prince's voice sounds much slower and very deep, similar to Barry White's . This deep voice can be heard, for example, in the song Bob George (1994) or on the album The Rainbow Children (2001).

Prince sings most of his texts melodically , but occasionally there are also passages of spoken vocals in his pieces. Examples of this are songs like Controversy (1981), Girls & Boys (1986) or Dead on It (1994), which Prince originally recorded in 1986 and intended for the Black Album . In this song he stutters a text that makes fun of rap music. Nevertheless, Prince occasionally resorted to this form of presentation, especially in the 1990s, and sang a rap-like chant in some of the songs.

Prince took over both the main vocals and other polyphonic vocal tracks in his songs, for example in the a cappella piece For You (1978) or in the songs When Doves Cry (1984) and Gold (1995). The backing vocals in his songs comes again mostly from him occasionally but he is also supported by band members. Occasionally, band members sing complete lines of lyrics in Prince's songs, such as Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman in songs from the 1980s, Rosie Gaines in songs from the 1990s, Shelby J. in songs from the 2000s and 3rdEyeGirl in songs from 2013.

On individual songs, Prince sings with guest singers such as Apollonia Kotero (1984), Sheena Easton (1987 and 1989), Carmen Electra (1992), Nona Gaye (1994), Gwen Stefani (1999), Angie Stone (2001), Lianne La Havas (2014) as well as Judith Hill , Ledisi and Rita Ora (all 2015) together in a duet . As a guest rapper, Doug E. Fresh (1998), Chuck D (1999), Eve (1999), Q-Tip (2009) and Lizzo (2014) performed on some of his songs.

Influence on other artists

Lenny Kravitz cites Prince as the musical influence

Prince's musical influence is reflected in various areas of the international music scene. The Boston Globe wrote in 2002 that Prince was one of the most covered artists of his time and that many contemporary musicians used elements of Prince's musical style in their sound. Musicians from different genres recorded cover versions of Prince songs, including The Pointer Sisters (1982), Cyndi Lauper (1983), Tina Turner (1985), Billy Cobham (1987), The Art of Noise featuring Tom Jones (1988), Allen Toussaint (1989), Simple Minds (1989), Big Audio Dynamite (1990), Gary Numan (1992), The Jesus and Mary Chain (1994), TLC (1994), Herbie Hancock (1995), Ginuwine (1996), Laibach (1996), Arto Lindsay (1997), Mariah Carey (1997), Ice-T (1999), Rod Stewart (2001), Patti Smith (2002), Foo Fighters (2003), Etta James (2006), Nina Simone (2008), Robert Randolph and the Family Band (2010), Glee Cast (2011), Sufjan Stevens (2012) and Lambchop (2017). Various musicians cite Prince as a role model or formative influence, such as Adam Levine , Alicia Keys , Beck , Bruno Mars , D'Angelo , Lenny Kravitz , Macy Gray and OutKast .

Also German musicians such as the Palast Orchester featuring Max Raabe (2001), Joy Denalane (2004), Roger Cicero with Soulounge (2004), Texas Lightning (2005), Uwe Schmidt under the pseudonym Señor Coconut (2008), Lisa Wahlandt (2010 ), Barbara Morgenstern (2011) and David Garrett (2017) reinterpreted songs by Prince. Michy Reincke recorded the first German-language version of a Prince title in 1992; his version Ich bin nicht Dein Mann is based on the song I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man from the album Sign "☮" the Times and Adel Tawil makes allusions to the songs Purple Rain and When Doves Cry in the song Lieder (2013) . Pop singer Helene Fischer also added Purple Rain to the set list of her color game tour (2014).

The Swiss rock band Züri West recorded a Swiss-German version of When You Were Mine from the album Dirty Mind with I ha di gärn gha (1994) and the Austrian jazz musician David Helbock released an album with songs by Prince in 2012.

Some of Prince's songs did not become known through their original version, but only through new recordings by other musicians. Chaka Khan recorded an international top ten hit in 1984 with I Feel for You , and Sinéad O'Connor achieved global success with the single Nothing Compares 2 U in 1990 . Prince originally wrote this song for the band The Family - his side project at the time - which Nothing Compares 2 U released on their album The Family in August 1985 . A version interpreted by Prince himself did not appear on The Hits / The B-Sides until 1993 , sung as a live duet with Rosie Gaines .

Prince, for his part, very rarely covered songs by other artists in order to publish them on his own studio albums; only on Emancipation (1996), Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic (1999), One Nite Alone… (2002), Lotusflow3r (2009) and PlectrumElectrum (2014) you can find songs interpreted by other musicians.

In addition, Prince composed songs for various artists , some under pseudonyms such as Alexander Nevermind, Camille, Christopher, Jamie Starr and Joey Coco. These include Stevie Nicks (1983 Stand Back ), Sheena Easton (1984 Sugar Walls ), The Bangles (1985 Manic Monday ), Kenny Rogers (1986 You're My Love ), Madonna (1989 Love Song ), Patti LaBelle (1989 Yo Mister ), Joe Cocker (1991 Five Women ), Martika (1991 Love… Thy Will Be Done ), Paula Abdul (1991 U ), Celine Dion (1992 With This Tear ), Earth, Wind and Fire (1993 Super Hero ) and No. Doubt (2001 Waiting Room ). Prince also wrote songs for Miles Davis , but the latter never released them as studio versions. On December 31, 1987 , Davis appeared as a guest at a Prince concert at Paisley Park Studio for about five minutes. When Miles Davis died on September 28, 1991, Prince wrote the instrumental song Letter 4 Miles in memory of him two days later , but he did not publish it.

Prince also founded bands like Apollonia 6 , Madhouse, The Family, The New Power Generation and The Time . He wrote and produced songs for these bands and mentored the careers of Andy Allo , Carmen Electra , Jill Jones and Sheila E. When the musical careers of Chaka Khan, George Clinton and Mavis Staples were in a commercial slump, Prince took these artists under contract with his label Paisley Park Records and from 1994 NPG Records . He wrote songs for them so that the named musicians could continue their careers.

Occasionally Prince acted as a guest musician; For example, he sang the backing vocals for Ani DiFranco in 1999 , played keyboard for Common in 2002 , electric guitar for Stevie Wonder in 2005 , bass guitar for Janelle Monáe in 2013 and various instruments for Judith Hill in 2015 .


Prince went on over 30 tours in his career . He not only took over the singing at his concerts, but also played various musical instruments. So he regularly played guitar or piano at his performances, on which he sometimes gave a medley of around 15 minutes . Occasionally he also used drums, bass or synthesizers. The typical Prince concerts of the 1980s and 1990s were glamorous stage shows with sophisticated choreographies and dozens of costume changes. From the 21st century onwards, Prince largely did without such show effects and concentrated more on his actual musical abilities; For example, he designed each concert individually with a different selection of songs. At his live concerts, Prince was accompanied by the musicians and background singers who also took part in the recordings of his current studio albums. Sheila E. made occasional guest appearances with Prince from 1984 to 2011.

Entry ticket to Prince's concert debut on January 5, 1979

Prince made his concert debut on January 5, 1979 in Minneapolis in front of an audience of around 300. Before this concert he had confessed that he found it extremely difficult to play in front of an audience. In 1980 Prince appeared with his band at the time as the opening act for Rick James . Prince accompanied James on his Fire-It-Up tour for two months and thereby gained live experience.

In the spring of 1981 Prince gave concerts in Europe for the first time, but the club appearances in Amsterdam, London and Paris did not attract much attention. Prince was still too unknown in Europe at the time. A low point in Prince's career were two concerts in October 1981 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum . At that time he appeared with his band as the opening act for the Rolling Stones to promote his fourth album Controversy . But the performances turned into a debacle: Boos and flying projectiles ensured that Prince canceled his first concert on October 9th after 15 minutes; he played the second concert on October 11th despite another flying projectile.

Three years later, Prince was at the commercial height of his career, and the Purple Rain tour from 1984 to 1985 became his most successful tour of his career with 1.75 million visitors in the USA. Prince's first world tour took him to Germany and Japan for the first time in 1986.

After Prince changed his stage name in 1993, he chose the songs for his concerts differently. From 1994 to 1996 he did without hits like When Doves Cry , Purple Rain or Kiss . Instead, Prince played songs that hadn't even been released at the time. It wasn't until 1997 on the successful Jam-of-the-Year tour through the USA and Canada that he returned to songs that had made him famous. The tour grossed $ 30 million.

The Musicology tour in 2004 was also successful, with approximately 1.5 million people visiting the US and grossing US $ 87 million. “ Real music 4 real music lovers ” (German: “Real music for real music lovers”) was the slogan of this tour, during which every concert-goer was given a copy of the album CD. From August 1 to September 21, 2007 Prince gave 21 concerts at the O 2 arena in London, all of which were sold out and grossed $ 22 million. Every concert-goer received another copy of a Prince CD with Planet Earth , and on September 13th Elton John performed live on stage with Prince.

In the 21st century, Prince played at music festivals several times , which he had rarely done before. He performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2007, 2009 and 2013 , took part in the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2008 , and performed at the Roskilde Festival in 2010 . From December 2010 to September 2012, Prince and his backing band The New Power Generation were on the Welcome-2-America-Tour around the world. During the tour section in the USA, various guest musicians appeared, for example Alicia Keys , Carlos Santana , Janelle Monáe , Nicole Scherzinger and Whitney Houston . In 2013 and 2014, Prince mainly performed live with his backing band 3rdEyeGirl .

On June 13, 2015, Prince gave a live concert in front of 500 invited guests at the White House . The hosts were Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama . Among other things, Stevie Wonder appeared on Prince's stage and the audience included politicians like Arne Duncan , Eric Holder and Susan Rice , actors like Angela Bassett , Connie Britton , Tracee Ellis Ross and Tyler Perry, and musicians like Ciara , James Taylor and Jon Bon Jovi . The reason for the Prince concert was the "African-American Music Appreciation Month" (German: "Month of Afro-American Music"), which is celebrated every year in June in the USA.

Prince's last tour of Piano & A Microphone from February 16 to April 14, 2016 included Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.


Amy Winehouse († 2011) appeared on an aftershow by Prince in 2007

From 1986 onwards, Prince occasionally played after shows after his concerts. Sometimes these additional concerts were announced over loudspeakers after the end of his main concerts, sometimes the location was made public via word of mouth and Twitter . His aftershows started after midnight and took place in smaller music clubs in front of around 300 to 1,000 spectators. At the aftershows, Prince and the audience usually created a more intimate atmosphere, as he did without stage shows, choreographies and the lavish light shows of his main concerts.

Prince designed the song selection differently than at his main concerts; he often did without his top ten hits. On the other hand, ten-minute instrumental versions of, for example, Billy Cobham , Duke Ellington or Miles Davis songs and cover versions of Aretha Franklin , Carlos Santana , James Brown , Jimi Hendrix , Mother's Finest , Parliament / Funkadelic or Sly & the Family Stone were not uncommon . His accompanying singers played a much larger role than at the main concert and occasionally interpreted songs as soloists, in which Prince then concentrated on the accompaniment of instruments such as guitar, drums or bass.

The highlights of some of Prince's aftershows were guest appearances by well-known musicians. At such live events he played with Eric Clapton (August 14, 1986 in London), Ron Wood (July 26, 1988 in London), Buddy Miles (April 6, 1993 in Chicago), Bono (March 31, 1995 in Dublin), Rufus Thomas (August 24, 1997 in Memphis), Hans Dulfer and Lenny Kravitz (both December 24, 1998 in Utrecht), Alicia Keys (April 10, 2002 in New York), Amy Winehouse (September 22, 2007 in London), Janelle Monáe (December 30, 2010 in New York) and Flavor Flav and Seal (both on May 13, 2012 in Sydney).

Intellectual Property Defense

In the 1990s, Prince began to consistently protect his intellectual property ; in particular in the 2000s he brought various copyright infringement cases to court.

In 1992, Prince sued the hip-hop group Arrested Development because the band had illegally sampled the word " Tennessee " for their single of the same name from Prince's top ten hit Alphabet St. (1988) . Arrested Development ended up paying Prince $ 100,000. Prince's then attorney L. Londell McMillan (* 1966) forbade reporters to use a recording device during interviews in 1998. To justify this, he said that Prince wanted to prevent his image, his likeness or his voice from being used in a way that was not originally intended. In early 1999, Prince hired a law firm to take legal action against various fan sites on the Internet. He accused the website operators of profiting from his image and deliberately giving the impression that he was approving of their pages. They were also accused of copyright infringement because they used the Prince symbol for their own purposes.

In 2006, Prince filed a lawsuit with the Berlin Regional Court because a DVD with an illegal Prince concert recording from 1983 was distributed in Germany. The competent court upheld his complaint in full and the DVD could no longer be sold. From September 2007, Prince took legal action against cases of alleged copyright infringement, including on the YouTube video portal, with the help of the Web Sheriff company . A Pennsylvania mother posted a 29-second video on YouTube of her toddler dancing to Prince 's song Let's Go Crazy . Prince had the video removed and subsequently found himself in a lawsuit with the mother, but in August 2008 the case was ruled in favor of the mother. Prince also had the music video for his cover version of the song Creep by the band Radiohead removed from YouTube in 2008 because he considered himself the copyright holder. Thom Yorke , singer from Radiohead, did his best to ensure that the video could be viewed online again. However, Prince continued to take legal action in such cases. Cell phone video recordings of Prince concerts were not allowed to be published on the Internet. Web Sheriff's John Giacobbi said the Warner Bros. argument made Prince smarter about protecting his rights; if it was about records and CDs back then, he fought for his online rights in the digital age .

In 2010 Prince had the symbol, which he had used as a pseudonym between 1993 and 2000, removed from the album cover of the Michael Jackson CD Michael before it was released. In June 2011, remarked Prince against the British newspaper The Guardian , he was "the White House going to talk about how the copyright law can protect." 2013 he handed in Twitter Inc. , a cease and desist letter a, since about the video portal Vine in eight videos of moving image material with sound recordings were shown, which he did not approve. Vine removed the videos.

In January 2014 Prince filed a lawsuit in a court in San Francisco in California over 22 million dollars against 22 pirates , which bootlegs produced concert recordings of the musician and spread over the Internet and should have uploaded. "Nobody sues fans," Prince said in an interview. Sharing music is "cool", but not selling bootlegs. Prince withdrew the lawsuit back in February because the defendants had removed all illegal downloads.


Prince as an actor and film director

Kristin Scott Thomas made her cinema debut in Under the Cherry Moon

From 1984 to 1990, Prince worked as an actor and film director. However , he was not able to build on his successful acting debut in the music film Purple Rain . Although he is the main actor in three other films in which he also directed, none of these came anywhere near the commercial success of their screen debut.

Purple Rain was released in US cinemas on July 27, 1984. With a budget of seven million dollars, director and screenwriter Albert Magnoli managed to achieve commercial success as the film grossed just under 70 million US dollars in US box offices at the time and 156 million US dollars worldwide. Prince plays a young musician in the film who wants to make a breakthrough at the First Avenue music club in Minneapolis. The leading actress is Apollonia Kotero . In 1985, Prince received an Oscar for the film in the category Best Original Song Score .

The US premiere of the black and white film Under the Cherry Moon took place on July 1, 1986. Prince, this time a film director himself, plays a gigolo who falls in love with a daughter from a wealthy family on the Côte d'Azur . This is played by Kristin Scott Thomas , who made her cinema debut at the time. But the film failed: It cost twelve million US dollars, but only grossed ten million US dollars and received several Golden Raspberries . Prince received this negative award at the 1987 award in the categories "worst actor" and "worst director" as well as "worst movie song" for the song Love or Money - the B-side of the Grammy-winning single Kiss . In addition, Jerome Benton was voted “Worst Supporting Actor” and Under the Cherry Moon was voted “Worst Film” of 1986.

Regardless of this, Prince directed another film, this time the concert film Prince - Sign O 'the Times , which opened in US cinemas on November 20, 1987. The film consists mainly of concert recordings in Rotterdam and Antwerp during Prince's European tour in 1987. In addition, some scenes were shot in the Paisley Park Studio in Chanhassen. After the commercial failure of the previous film Under the Cherry Moon , the film department of Warner Bros. did not support the film, so Prince had to look for another distributor. Prince - Sign O 'the Times was $ 2.5 million and grossed $ 3 million. The film received very positive reviews from critics.

Graffiti Bridge is the last film that Prince directed. He again took on the leading role and was also active as a screenwriter. Madonna was originally slated to play the lead, but turned down the role after reading the script . Instead, Ingrid Chavez (* 1965) took on the female lead. Furthermore appeared George Clinton , Jill Jones , Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis , Mavis Staples and Tevin Campbell with in small supporting roles by relying play itself. He did not want to become a Francis Ford Coppola , Prince admitted after the US cinema premiere on November 2, 1990. Graffiti Bridge was conceived as a continuation of the theatrical hit Purple Rain , but again fell short of expectations: The film cost seven million US dollars, but grossed only 4.2 million dollars in the US. Prince was again nominated for the Golden Raspberry several times, but was spared an award when it was awarded in 1991 .

Other film projects

Without appearing as an actor himself, Prince took part in various other film projects. In June 1989, the film Batman opened in US cinemas, which became one of the world's most successful films of the year. Prince contributed the soundtrack of the same name , various songs from the Batman album can be heard in the film. In March 1996 came the film Girl 6 of Spike Lee in the American cinema and the film's soundtrack consists of music of Prince compositions. In 1997 he appeared as a guest on Muppets Tonight! on and in an episode of the US sitcom New Girl in 2014 . He played himself in both appearances. Prince received his only Golden Globe Award in 2007 in the Best Movie Song category for the song The Song of the Heart , which he contributed to the soundtrack of the computer animation film Happy Feet .

In addition, Prince has occasionally been a theme or quotation in US films since the 1980s; For example, in his 1988 film Do the Right Thing , Spike Lee made positive allusions to Prince as a figure of identification for African Americans . Another example is the 1990 film Pretty Woman , in which the title character, played by Julia Roberts , sings a few lines of the song Kiss in the bathtub and shortly afterwards talks about Prince.

Prince songs can also be heard in various films, such as Lockereshops (1983), Showgirls (1995), Striptease (1996), William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996), Scream 2 (1997), Get Rich or Die Tryin ' (2005), PS I Love You (2007), Never Again Sex With Your Ex (2008), Gulliver's Travels - Something Big Is Coming Up ( 2010) and BlacKkKlansman (2018).


Prince was able to sell over 100 million of his records in his career. After changing his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993, his commercial success declined. Before the name change, most of his album releases in the USA had reached platinum status, the albums after that only achieved this status very rarely. It was only after Prince had resumed his original stage name in 2000 and returned to a major label in 2004 that he returned to the top ten in the international charts.

From 1978 to 2015 Prince released 39 studio albums, 19 of which reached the top ten in the US and 4 of them number one in the charts. In the US singles charts he was represented in the top ten with 19 singles, 5 of which reached the top position. In Germany, Prince brought 13 albums into the top ten, but he was denied first place. In the German single charts, 4 of his songs made it into the top ten, the highest ranking was achieved by Kiss , which reached number four in 1986.

According to official information, Prince wrote almost 900 songs, some of which were not published by himself but by other musicians. In 1986 he revealed in a radio interview that he still had 320 unreleased songs in his safe; thus he cemented his reputation as a workaholic . In his life, Prince wrote over 1,000 unreleased songs.


Der Spiegel analyzed Prince's commercial success in the 1980s : “This success is essentially due to his above-average talents as a composer, producer, lyricist and as the inventor of synthetic timbres. He is also a virtuoso musical craftsman. ”The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) called Prince a“ highly talented composer ”and wrote:“ This talent, largely removed from self-citation, enabled Prince to do something that would otherwise hardly be imaginable in the pop business, namely high levels to combine musical aspirations with commercial reality. On the one hand, to be able to make 'Music for musicians sake' - that is, to be heard and appreciated by active musicians like Sting or Bryan Ferry - and on the other hand to attract the general public. ”In another article, however , the FAZ said :“ Prince sells with the mixture of ideological naivety and targeted image strategy, which is often typical for American idols. ”The Melody Maker simply stated, referring to Prince:“ This man is truly a genius! ”The music journalist Barry Graves considered Prince very polarizing: One feels Prince towards “just complete dislike or total sympathy.” In addition, Graves wrote: “Prince offers more than just a great gesture, he introduces lust and frustration, great drama and gentle poetry, power and vulnerability - the complete range of potential of rock music. [...] He can do everything and shows everything ”.

Prince, 1986

Musician colleagues also commented on Prince; Bob Dylan called him a “boy wonder” and Eric Clapton said, “There's no one I've ever met who can just say, 'Well, he's OK'. You either hate him or you love him. " Randy Newman admitted," I admire Prince. He has something to say. I prefer him to Springsteen and actually to any other musician. He's trying new things. And he also risks things that people might not like straight away in his music. " Miles Davis said," You'd be amazed at how much Prince knows about music. And he plays almost every jazz musician I know. ” Rick James took a different view :“ Prince is a young deranged. He's completely wrong. You can't take your music seriously. He sings songs about oral sex and incest. ” Keith Richards didn't think much of Prince's music either, he said,“ I think Prince is totally superficial. He rides a wave like The Monkees used to do . He juggles the media very well, but his music is kid stuff. "

In the 1980s , various media reported an alleged rivalry between Prince and Michael Jackson , both of whom were very successful commercially at the time. Alluding to such comparisons, the British magazine The Face described Prince at the time as " Lucifer's answer to Michael Jackson." The star wrote that Prince's music was "more exciting than anything Michael Jackson could ever think of: a mixture of hard rock and soul, Punk and blues, carried by a falsetto voice, garnished with shrill guitar solos, which clearly show the master's admiration for Jimi Hendrix . "

The Stuttgarter Zeitung described Prince's eccentric image in 1987: “He occupies 27 single, ten double rooms and three suites in the Hotel Graf Zeppelin, because he already has five bodyguards with him. Not to mention the cook, who is supposed to look over the shoulder of the Zeppelin colleagues so that they don't over-salt the Prince's breakfast egg. Your Highness deign to ennoble two suites with your presence, because a Bechstein grand piano and the entire body-building device simply need space. He also had his own bed linen flown in: white satin with yellow and pink flowers on it, as a set of two sheepskins . The man wants to be comfortable, that's for sure. ”In contrast, Cat Glover, Prince's dancer in 1987, said after the musician's death:“ We were on the tour bus; Prince drove us to McDonald’s and ordered cheeseburgers for everyone. That was his way of saying, 'I can be completely normal too.' "

Looking back at the 1980s, Melody Maker wrote about Prince in 1990: “He was to the eighties what Little Richard , Bob Dylan and Johnny Rotten were to the fifties, sixties and seventies.” The Süddeutsche Zeitung said: “If Elvis the fifties, the Beatles dominated the sixties and David Bowie the seventies, then this decade is the decade of a physically small but creatively great pop genius from Minneapolis. "The pop music critic Karl Bruckmaier said:" Prince is way ahead on his way into the next decade, and we can all consider ourselves lucky to be able to travel with his entourage. "


Prince, 1993

In the 1990s, Prince's popularity began to decline. Part of the responsibility for this was his name change in 1993, which was ridiculed in various media. Based on the line of text "My Name Is Prince - and I am funky" (1992), the New Musical Express wrote : "My name is O (+> - and I'm crazy!" The American radio journalist Howard Stern called Prince " The artist people formerly cared about ”(German:“ The artist who used to mean something to people ”). The US music magazine Rolling Stone wrote:“ Normal artists make a mistake, but this guy gets into public relations -Specialized in disasters that confuse loyal fans and deeply undermine his status as the great cross-genre innovator of the past decade. "

In the period from 1993 to 2000 Prince gave more interviews than ever before in his career, and during this time he sometimes spoke of himself in the third person. For example, he told Time Out magazine in 1995: “Prince has never given interviews before. You have to ask Prince why he acted this way, and you're not talking to him right now. You're talking to me. ”In 1999 he told Welt Online :“ Me? I didn't have any success in the eighties. Prince had success in the eighties. "

Of Prince's musical qualities in the 1990s, Entertainment Weekly ruled : "This clever guy keeps coming up with a few good tricks, but the holes in between get bigger on every record" and the Chicago Sun-Times asked: "Prince: what is." happens? In the eighties, Prince Roger [sic] Nelson dominated pop music as Elvis Presley made his mark on the fifties and John Lennon and Paul McCartney shaped the sixties. The courageous desire to experiment with songs like Kiss and When Doves Cry with their minimalist rhythm tracks and edgy guitar solos has been replaced by clumsy pomping at the rap market - and by an aesthetic that is more indifferent than innovation. The freshness that drove his best songs - starting with titles like 1999 from 1982 and still 1990 on Graffiti Bridge - seems to weaken with every record released in the nineties. "

The Rolling Stone considered the release of the album The Gold Experience in 1995 as an artistic ray of hope : "On this LP, our former Prince shows his most versatile side since the Sign" ☮ "the Times, which appeared in 1987. " The Detroit Press expressed a similar opinion in 1996 : " Emancipation is a powerful reminder that the former Prince was one of the most creative and innovative musicians of the late twentieth century - at least if he tried." Prince had his own view of these years of his career; When asked in 1999 by The New York Times whether his album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic was something of a comeback attempt , Prince replied, “I've never been away.” The Entertainment Weekly summed up, “that Prince isn't on the drawing board designed pop star, but an unusual and brilliant eccentric with cult potential who has had a few huge hits on the side. "

When Prince returned to his original stage name in 2000, he said at the scheduled press conference in New York that the unspeakable symbol was a means of breaking away from "unwanted relationships."

21st century

In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . OutKast and Alicia Keys delivered the laudatory speech , and Keys said of Prince: “There is only one man who is loud enough to make you soft, strong enough to make you weak, and so honest that you can make you feel Feeling ashamed. "Prince also gave a speech and said among other things:" Without true spiritual guidance, too much freedom can lead to the corruption of the soul. So a word to the young artists: a real friend and mentor is not on your payroll. I wish you all the best on this fascinating journey. It's not too late. ”As a result, the media became more interested in Prince again. Also in 2004 was his album Musicology , in which several critics saw a comeback of Prince. The US music magazine Rolling Stone wrote : “Since the early nineties he has seemed to get lost in his own bizarre fixed ideas - the spongy, religious fusion jazz of the 2001 album The Rainbow Children and the aimless instrumental improvisations of NEWS from that year 2003 were just the most recent examples. Musicology, on the other hand, is now such an engaging, to-the-point and utterly satisfying album that Prince has not recorded in ages. " The Guardian newspaper found that" Prince has finally awakened from the self-pitying rigor that is now It's been ten years. ”The e-zine PopMatters celebrated Prince as“ one of the last of a dying genre: the cross-generational, attractive pop icon . There is still no successor in sight, so we should be grateful that he hasn't run out of juice. ”But there were also less enthusiastic voices. The New Musical Express said it was "sadly wishful thinking to convince yourself that Musicology was the first really good Prince album since its prime in the eighties." The website Pitchfork Media said, "I can't see how one can seriously speak of a comeback or suggest that he is returning to his previous best form here. "

In 2010, Prince received a BET Award for Lifetime Achievement. Stephen G. Hill, President of BET company, raised his "unique style" forward and said: "Prince is dynamic, Prince is awesome Prince is music." In 2011, the updated Rolling Stone 's list of "100 best artists of all time" , in which Prince put it in 27th place.

In 2013, Prince was ranked second behind Bruce Springsteen in Rolling Stone's “50 best live acts at the moment” . He was also accepted as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS); the Academy selects the Oscar winners each year . In 2015, Rolling Stone compiled a list of the 100 best songwriters of all time , in which Prince ranked 18th. In the same year, the same magazine put the musician at number 33 on its list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time .


The Los Angeles City Hall was illuminated purple colors in tribute to Prince on April 21, 2016
The dome of City Hall in San Francisco was also lit purple

After Prince's death on April 21, 2016, a large number of celebrities spoke about the musician, for example the then President of the United States Barack Obama said: “Today the world has lost a creative icon . Few artists have more clearly influenced the sound and development of popular music or touched so many people with their talent. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader and an electrifying artist. " Bono of U2 tweeted :" I never met Mozart , I never met Duke Ellington or Charlie Parker . I never met Elvis . But I met Prince ”. Bruce Springsteen said, “I felt a great kinship with Prince. Since the sixties and seventies and your Sam & Daves and your James Browns he's been one of the greatest show people out there ”. Madonna wrote on Instagram that Prince had changed the world and was a true visionary. Elton John also got in touch with Instagram and said: “The best artist I've ever seen. A real genius. Musically far ahead of each of us. ” Mark Knopfler said:“ He was a versatile songwriter , singer, instrumentalist and producer who gave so many great pleasure ”. Michael Jordan said, “In a world of creative artists, Prince was a genius. His influence not only on music but also on culture is really not measurable ”, and Katy Perry wrote:“ And just like that ... the world has lost a lot of magic ”. Mick Jagger said, “Prince was a revolutionary artist and a wonderful musician and composer. His lyrics were original and he was an excellent guitarist. His talent was inexhaustible. He was one of the most outstanding artists of the last 30 years. ”In addition, Aretha Franklin , Dwayne Johnson , Eric Clapton , Keith Richards , Kevin Bacon , Magic Johnson , Olivia Wilde , Paul McCartney , Reese Witherspoon , Russell Crowe , Samuel L. Jackson , Slash and Susan Sarandon .

The Recording Academy , which awards the Grammy Awards every year , wrote: “Never conformist has it redefined our musical landscape and forever changed it. Prince was an original who influenced so many and his legacy will live on forever. ”He was one of the most gifted artists of all time.

Prince died on the Queen's 90th birthday , which is why Niagara Falls were illuminated in purple. It was erroneously reported in various mass media that this was done in honor of the musician, which did not correspond to the facts; the project was announced a week earlier because the color purple is associated with the royals, among other things. Only when Prince's death became known during the day of April 21, 2016, the organizers spontaneously announced that Niagara Falls would also be illuminated in purple in honor of the musician.

Shortly after Prince's death, older albums and songs by the musician returned to the international charts in many countries; for example, seven albums and four singles were posthumously placed in the top 100 in Germany. In the US, a total of 4.41 million Prince albums were sold from April 21 to April 28, 2016, and Prince posthumously set a new record in May; Within a week, 19 of his albums were simultaneously represented on the Billboard 200 , which no artist had done before. In addition, 5 of his albums were in the top ten, which no artist had done before. Before Prince, The Beatles held the record in the top 200 in 2004 with 13 albums at the same time.

In 2017, the US company Pantone LLC officially added a purple shade to its color register from 1993 to 2000 in honor of the musician with the name of his pseudonym "Love Symbol # 2". In February 2018, Justin Timberlake paid tribute to Prince at Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis , and on September 26, 2018, the University of Minnesota awarded Prince an honorary doctorate for his influence on the international music scene and on his hometown Minneapolis.

On October 29, 2019 Heyne Verlag published the book The Beautiful Ones - The Unfinished Autobiography Prince had worked on in the last three months of his life.

On the occasion of the Grammy Awards 2020 , a tribute concert for Prince took place on January 28, 2020 in the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles under the motto "Let's Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince", at which Beck , Chris Martin , Common , Earth, Wind and Fire , FKA twigs , Foo Fighters , Gary Clark junior , HER , John Legend , Juanes , Mavis Staples , Miguel , Misty Copeland , Sheila E. , St. Vincent , Susanna Hoffs , The Revolution , The Time and Usher appeared. The concert aired on U.S. television on April 21, 2020, the fourth anniversary of Prince's death. In November 2020, business magazine Forbes updated its list of the “Highest Paid Dead Celebrities,” in which Prince ranks 10th at $ 10 million.


In 2004 Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and during his lifetime he won an Oscar and seven Grammy Awards . Posthumously he was nominated again at the Grammy Awards 2021 for the album 1999 Deluxe in the category "Best Historical Album", but the award went to Mister Rogers .


Studio albums (selection)

Compilations, samplers and live albums



Web links

Commons : Prince  - collection of images

Individual evidence

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  29. Garcia (2018), p. 358.
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  120. Cristobal (2017), answers 103 and 104.
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  123. Ben Sisario: IRS Says Prince's Estate Worth Twice What Administrators Reported. In: January 4, 2021, accessed January 5, 2021 .
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  158. Mischke (1989), p. 27.
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  170. Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame: Lenny Kravitz bowed so ingeniously to Prince. In: April 10, 2017, accessed January 21, 2021 .
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  175. Jem Aswad: Sheila E. Looks Back on Prince: Their Collaborations, Engagement & Lifelong Love. In: April 26, 2016, accessed April 19, 2017 .
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This article was added to the list of excellent articles on October 23, 2010 in this version .