Personalities | Prince | A Talented Showman | Guitar Heroes

Prince (1958–2016) used guitar as a stage prop that exuded flash on a par with his wardrobe, enigmatic persona and overall showmanship, but his talent on the instrument was a crucial element in bringing his unique blend of rock and soul to a worldwide audience.

Prince Rogers Nelson, also known as the Artist Formerly Known As Prince, also known as an unpronounceable symbol, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to John L. Nelson and Mattie Shaw. John was a pianist and songwriter, and Mattie was a singer. He is named after The Prince Rogers Trio, his father’s jazz band. Prince’s parents divorced, and he had a troubled relationship with his stepfather. Prince lived briefly with his father, who bought him his first guitar, and later moved in with a neighbourhood family, the Andersons, befriending their son, André Anderson, later André Cymone.

The friends played in local party bands together and, as Prince’s talents developed, he grew from background instrumentalist to front man. He began to do more studio work for local musicians and producers, and a demo tape he made in 1976 led to a contract with Warner Bros., which allowed him creative control over his songs.

Prince’s first two albums were standard late-1970s funk-pop. The single ‘Soft And Wet’, from For You (1978), reached No. 12 on the US R&B charts. ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’, from Prince (1979), reached No. 1. With 1980’s Dirty Mind Prince began to catch fire, on the strength of the album’s musical versatility and stark treatment of sex. The follow-up, Controversy (1981), made an international splash with its title song. Then came 1999, a monster hit that sold over three million copies and gave the world a party song that would last way beyond the date in its title.

And then Prince became a movie star with 1985’s Purple Rain. The soundtrack eventually sold over ten million copies in the US and spent 24 weeks at No. 1. Partially recorded with his touring band, The Revolution, the record featured the most pop-oriented music Prince ever made, including the title song and the international smash ‘When Doves Cry’.

Not content to repeat himself, Prince experimented with psycho-psychedelia on Around The World In A Day (1985), which nevertheless sold over two million copies. In 1986 he released Parade, which spawned the sparse funk of ‘Kiss’ and served as the soundtrack to Prince’s second film, Under The Cherry Moon. ‘Kiss’ would top the Billboard Hot 100, while ‘Manic Monday’, written by Prince for The Bangles, reached No. 2. In 1987 Prince continued his roll with the sprawling masterpiece Sign O’ The Times.

Prince was set to release the hard funk of The Black Album by the end of the year, but, judging the album too dark in tone, withdrew it before its release. Instead, he released Lovesexy, a commercial disaster, in 1988. With the soundtrack to 1989’s Batman, Prince returned to the top...

To read the full article please either login or register .


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.