"Prince is a reincarnation of all the best in music. Just what the world needs now...a very controversial figure and an absolute musical genius."
     - Eric Clapton
     - Desert Island Discs/1988

"Prince is possibly the most gifted artist of the decade."
     - Robert Christgau
     - Music Critic, Village Voice/1987

The New Album

"Life Is Death Without Adventure." Back in the mid-'80's, a young musician from Minneapolis made that statement. And he's never strayed from giving us music that takes wild and daring twists and turns. Before changing his name 2 an unpronounceable symbol on June 7, 1993, he recorded a bulk of material that will continue 2 be released. And now comes the last studio album he recorded before he changed his name. Its title is a stirring invitation: COME.

Cool funk, hot soul, smoky jazz, sizzling rock, topped off with provocative poetry. No borders, no rules. Can't let taboos stand in our way. A release of inhibitions, a swift kick in the ass 2 the politics of repression.

The ammunition: songs about sexual obsession ("Come," "Pheromone"), sexuality and spirituality ("Space"), shattered romance ("Dark"), the politics of racism ("Race") and child abuse ("Papa"). There's also the song "Loose," an intense call-2-arms for the release of positive energy, and the disc's first single, "Letitgo," a song whose lyrics shed some light on Prince's controversial decision 2 change his name.

As Prince, he has already had 14 platinum albums, 12 gold singles, and a gold video. Now he has more. Not only had the deluxe three-CD compilation The Hits/ The B-Sides already gone gold by the beginning of December '93, so had the single CD The Hits 1 and the video The Hits Collection. Shortly thereafter, the single CD The Hits 2 also went gold. And consider this: as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the weekly music newspaper Radio & Records named Prince "Top Urban Contemporary Artist of the Past 20 Years" because he's had 34 R&R black chart records--11 more than anybody else. He also ranked #4 in R&R pop chart hits.

Unpredictable and bold, he has slipped his tongue into our collective ear -- 2 paraphrase a line from a recent essay about him in Paper magazine -- and tickled our brain. He's touched our soul, 2, and got our bodies moving; singing about rebirth, spirituality, sexuality.



Few artists have captivated the media and general public to the degree that Prince has since he first burst upon the music scene in the early '80's. Initially referred to as the '80s answer to the Beatles, his intoxicating sound was not only a radical departure from anything heard previously, but also caused an entire shift in the musical direction of that decade.

Although his 1984 blockbuster film and soundtrack gave him global status as a household name, he had already racked up an impressive three platinum releases before the Purple Rain explosion was heard around the world. Prince was only 19 years old when his first album, For You, was released on Warner Bros. Records. As a debut record, For You was considered a success both commercially and critically. That this provocative young virtuoso was not only a one-man band, but also his own producer, garnered tremendous attention around the world -- music critics were astonished to learn that only one person was behind all the vocals and instruments.

His career began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after teaching himself to play the piano at the age of seven. By the time he was 12, he had already mastered over 20 instruments. While still in his early teens, he had already laid the foundation for the Madhouse sound when he formed a band called Champagne that played only instrumental music. He then moved on to form the group Grand Central (later renamed Champagne) and, after a brief period of recording demo tapes at Moon Studio in Minneapolis, he headed for New York armed with his music.

Although he was only 18, he insisted on producing his own records and returned home after declining contracts from three different record companies. A year later, Warner Bros. Records signed him to a three-record contract. The now familiar "produced, arranged, composed and performed by Prince" credit accompanying his every release was then unparalleled. His arrangement with Warner Bros. made him the youngest artist in its history to be given complete artistic control in the studio.

By the time he was 21, the word on this electrifying artist began to spread. His eponymously titled second album sold over one million copies, and the confidence that Warner Bros. had installed in him was justified.

In one decade, Prince went from being a minor artist with a cult following to one of the most critically acclaimed and influential artists of the 20th century. Declared a genius by numerous artists and music critics, his music is used as a point of reference in countless record reviews. ("Perhaps more than any other artist, Prince called the tune for pop music in the '80s, imprinting his Minneapolis sound on an entire generation of musicians both black and white."/Rolling Stone 11/89)

Saying that Prince is a mystery is as much an understatement as saying he's talented. Already dubbed "mysterious" in 1980, Prince responded to the label in an early interview. "I don't know why so many people think I'm trying to be mysterious. I'm really not into mysteries. I'm just into my music... that's all."

Communication with the public comes primarily through his music and live performances. He has a keen desire to keep his private life simply that -- private. He has given only two interviews in the past six years. "Anything I have to say can be heard in my music. I really don't have the answers to anybody else's questions. Nobody does. People shouldn't look to others for answers, they need to look inside themselves."

An incomparable visionary, Prince continues to receive kudos from critics for his artistic risks. When Around The World In A Day was released in 1985, it had a totally different sound from any previous Prince release. It also became the fastest selling album in the history of Warner Bros. Records. ("By making a significantly radical departure... Prince made moot the issue of sales figures... and replaced them with artistic questions. He looked in, not out, which was the response of an artist, not a music monger."/Washington Post 6/85)

Prince continues to keep the critics guessing with each new release. More than 50 million copies of his albums have sold worldwide -- giving him a total of ten platinum albums -- yet writers still rush to put a definitive label on the newest Prince sound, not fully understanding that he possesses a multitude of musical interests. ("...new Prince albums generate more excitement and speculation than almost anything else in rock 'n' roll."/Musician 11/88.)

He also continues to be misunderstood. Gospel maven Mavis Staples, who signed on to Prince's Paisley Park Records in '87, says that most people don't understand the brilliance of his music. "You've got to really listen to hear what he's saying," says Staples. "He's been putting out a positive message for years. But I can tell a lot of people aren't listening because of the questions I get in interviews. His message can be humorous...but it's spiritual. I've seen those kids leaving his concerts; it's like me going to church and shouting. I can't say enough good things about him."

("...in the 1980s...brilliant and daring artists captivated our attention... the most brilliant and daring is Prince."/USA Today 11/29/89)

The release of the critically lauded Batman soundtrack caused a stir among music critics for its "supposed" departure from the acclaimed and enchanting Lovesexy. Reportedly one of the fastest selling albums in the history of the charts, Batman was, in reality, quite similar to its predecessor: both explored the polarities and dualities of mankind.

("Prince has remade Burton's film {Batman} into an album and videos that vivify hidden ideas about sex, psychology and social behavior.... He gives a clearer understanding of the psychic battle between Bruce Wayne and The Joker.... What makes the songs art is their emotional detail."/Film Comment 11/89)

With the release of Graffiti Bridge in 1990, critics again sang their praises over his then newest release. (A 17-song tour de force that reclaims Prince's rare stature as a pop Picasso."/Rolling Stone 8/90) Called a masterpiece by more than a few, Graffiti Bridge was frequently compared to the Purple Rain soundtrack -- as Batman had been the previous year -- and many reviewers pondered the notion that Prince had gone "back" to a more rock sound.

Considered one of the world's greatest rock guitarists, we will surely hear more rock 'n' roll sounds from Prince in the future. And more funk. And ballads. And R&B. And gospel. And jazz. The "Prince sound" draws upon every type of music--his creative energy has never limited itself to a specific category.

At no point in his career was this more obvious than on Diamond and Pearls (released in early October 1991), which found Prince blazing the musical trail once again with a mature collection of songs as innovative and diverse as his talent. The revivalist rumble of tracks like "Thunder" and "Willing and Able" gave way to such all out double-dutch funk jams as "Daddy Pop," "Push" and the first controversial single from the LP -- "Gett Off."

The disc also featured the recording debut of a new "family" of musicians and performers that Prince had gathered together, the New Power Generation. Featuring Levi Seacer, Jr. (guitar), Sonny T (bass), Tommy Barbarella (keyboard), dancers/percussionists Kirk Johnson and Damon Dickson, Michael Bland (drums), rapper/dancer Tony M, and Rosie Gaines (keyboard and backing vocals), the N.P.G. were on the tip of a new trend in music and a surprising new direction for Prince - a return to the live band. As Prince told Spin magazine, "Everyone else went out and got drum machines and computers, so I threw mine away."

The Minneapolis musician has not limited his attention to live and recorded performances, but also reasserted himself as a video pioneer with his heavy-rotated music video "Gett Off" and a special home video collection. Themed after the lecherous Roman Emperor Caligula, the controversial MTV clip was the height of decadence and fun. Introducing characters "Diamond" and "Pearl" and other scantily-clad women and groping men, Prince continued to provoke his critics and challenge taboos in all mediums. Another Prince innovation, the Maxi-Video, with five different videos shot to different mixes of "Gett Off," was as revealing as it was entertaining, offering fans a rare glimpse into the many sides of Prince's personality.

Frequently dubbed a workaholic by friends and colleagues, Prince is indeed an incredibly productive person. He frequently works straight through one day into the next and, when not concentrating on his own material, Prince devotes a considerable amount of time writing songs for and producing other artists. Artists landing in the Top 10 with Prince-written songs include Sinead O'Connor "Nothing Compares 2 U", Sheena Easton "Sugar Walls", the Bangles "Manic Monday" and Chaka Khan "I Feel For You."

Credited as the ruling creative force of the Eighties, Prince's vision encompasses the best of all styles. Crowning his accomplishments of the past decade was a special "Award of Achievement" presented to him at the 1990 American Music Awards. Noting his work as a multi-talented artist, the award read "...through his writing and performing, his recordings and motion pictures, and support of new musical stars, Prince has been a major influence on the look and sound of the 1980's."

Aside from his own music, Prince also focuses a substantial amount of time to artists on his own recording label. Paisley Park Recording artists include T.C. Ellis, Ingrid Chavez, The Time, Tony LeMans, George Clinton, Eric Leeds, Mavis Staples and Good Question.

All this should be enough to keep the average person quite busy. But however you may want to describe Prince, "average" is probably not the word that comes to mind. So it shouldn't have surprised anyone when, in 1987, Prince's 65,000 square foot, state-of-the-art multimedia production facility opened for business.

Paisley Park is the locus of Prince's creativity, business acumen and professional ambition. Built from the ground up, this high-tech complex in Minneapolis houses the record company, three recording studios and a 16,000-square-foot soundstage. In addition, there is a set building shop, choreography room, pre-stage area, dressing rooms, and wardrobe and costume department.

Anyone who walks into Paisley Park immediately recognizes it as a working environment. It is a well-thought-out building whose main influence and guidance came from Prince. Since it opened, projects ranging from full tour production rehearsals for Neil Young to TV commercials for products such as Huggies Diapers have passed through Paisley Park.

Other projects on the soundstage include TV commercials for Burger King, McDonald's, Comet Cleanser, Volkswagon, Porsche, Cadillac, Lincoln Mercury and tour production rehearsals for the Bee Gees, MC Hammer, Freddie Jackson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Neil Young, Kool & The Gang, The Muppets, Barry Manilow, and Jeff Beck. Since they opened, the studios have been used for a number of recording projects including albums and/or songs by such artists as R.E.M., the BoDeans, Martika, Madonna, Paula Abdul, Jermaine Jackson, Patti LaBelle, the Replacements, the Pointer Sisters, The Boys, Jasmine Guy, and the Fine Young Cannibals.

With its five channels of audio, Studio A is equipped for Dolby Surround sound-mixes, making it a superb facility for recording film & TV soundtracks. In addition to Prince's Batman album, the studio has housed other soundtrack projects as well.

In fact, when Douglass Trumbull was shooting a high-definition television project, To Dream of Roses, on the soundstage, he was also supervising soundtrack work down the hall in Studio A for an Italian film, Leonardo's Dream.

Second only to music is Prince's interest in film. After the smashing success of Purple Rain, he later starred in two additional films: Under the Cherry Moon in 1986 and the critically-acclaimed live concert film, Sign O' The Times, in 1987 (which was filmed in part at Paisley Park). While neither achieved the monumental success of Purple Rain, they cemented his interest for working in the medium. Paisley Park Films is the result of that interest; its first project was Graffiti Bridge.

Known for being very film literate, Prince attempts to see almost every single film released, including those never shown in the US.

Critically acclaimed for riveting live performances and remarkably poignant compositions, Prince consistently maintains his status as one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. His primary focus continues to be his integrity as an artist. His primary motivation is growth and experimentation. His relentless energy and creative pursuits have helped redefine the meaning of artistry.