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| The 80's
Prince gained critical acclaim with his 1980 release of Dirty Mind, again entirely self-recorded and released using the demos of the songs. Dirty Mind is particularly notable for its sexually explicit material, in particular the title track, Head, and controversial Sister. During this period, Prince began to attract attention for the clothes he wore on-stage: high-heeled shoes, boots and black bikini briefs and tended to flaunt and express an intense sexuality on-stage. On tour, Lisa Coleman replaced keyboardist Gayle Chapman in the band, who felt the sexually explicit lyrics and stage antics of Prince’s concerts conflicted with her religious beliefs.
His stylistic choices brought him trouble as an opening act for The Rolling Stones' for two Los Angeles Coliseum shows in 1981, where he was infamously pelted with garbage while wearing bikini briefs, leg warmers, high-heeled boots, and a trench coat, eventually booed off the stage for his wardrobe and androgynous lyrics. These shows occurred just before the release of Controversy and also when he was breaking in his new bassist Mark Brown (later Brown Mark), who was then just 18 and out of high school.
Soon after he released the album Controversy, with the single of the same name charting internationally for the first time. In February 1981, Prince made his first appearance on Saturday Night Live performing Partyup. Starting with the album Controversy, Prince used Controversy Music – ASCAP for publishing his songs, which he would use for his following sixteen records until Emancipation in 1996.
In 1981, Prince formed a "side project" (a misnomer label, given that his band was only used for performances and contributed little to recording sessions) band called The Time. Prince was able to do this thanks to a clause in his contract with Warner Bros. The Time released four albums between 1981 and 1990, with Prince writing and performing all instruments and backing vocals throughout, with the lead vocals handled by Morris Day.
In 1982, he released the 1999 double-album (released in some countries as a single-album) which "broke" Prince into the mainstream in the US and internationally, selling over three million copies. The title track was a protest against nuclear proliferation and became his first top ten hit internationally.
The band’s name was printed in reverse on the cover of 1999; however Prince refrained using the name "The Revolution" until Dickerson left the band due to religious reasons, while in the 2003 book Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince, Alex Hahn states that Prince wanted Dickerson to commit to a new three year contract with the group, but Dickerson refused and struck out on his own. Dickerson was replaced by Wendy Melvoin, a childhood friend of Lisa. The band members were known for being solid musicians and a strong live act, but their talents would be used sparsely in the studio. Their presence in Prince’s recordings, however, would increase through the mid-1980s.
Prince’s 1984 album, Purple Rain (concurrent with the film of the same name) sold more than thirteen million copies in the US and spent twenty-four consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200. The Academy Award-winning film grossed more than $80 million in the US alone, and proved to be Prince’s biggest cinematic success.
Two songs from Purple Rain, When Doves Cry and Let’s Go Crazy, topped the US pop singles chart and were hits around the world, while the title track reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Prince simultaneously held the spots #1 film, #1 single, and #1 album in the US. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for Purple Rain", and the album ranks at 72 in the top 100 of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list; the album is also listed in The All-TIME 100 Albums of TIME Magazine.
It was the album’s song Darling Nikki that Tipper Gore overheard her twelve-year-old daughter, Karenna, listening that inspired her to found the Parents Music Resource Center. The center has advocated the mandatory use of a warning label ("Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics") on the covers of records that have been judged to contain language or lyrical content unsuitable for minors. The recording industry voluntarily complied with their request in response to the Senate hearings.
In 1985, after the successful Purple Rain Tour, Prince announced that he would discontinue both live performances and music videos after the release of Around The World In A Day, which held the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 for three weeks. Prince’s ban on music videos supposedly ended when the album stalled in the charts and, after a video for Raspberry Beret, then reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
Prince released the album Parade in 1986. The album hit #3 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the R&B charts. The first single, Kiss, would top the Billboard Hot 100. The song was originally written for another Prince side project, Mazarati. At the same time, another song originally written for Apollonia 6, Manic Monday by The Bangles, reached #2 on the Hot 100. Parade served as the soundtrack for Prince’s second film Under The Cherry Moon.
Prince both directed and starred in the movie, that also featured Kristen Scott Thomas as his love interest, Mary Sharon, in her first feature film role. Following the film and album release, Prince returned to touring with several scattered Hit & Run shows in the U.S. and embarked on his first full scale European tour, the Parade Tour in the summer of 1986, and ending the tour in September with his first appearance in Japan.
At the end of the Parade Tour, Prince disbanded The Revolution, as he let go Wendy and Coleman|Lisa, replaced Bobby Z. with Sheila E., and Brown Mark quit, having wanted to leave before the Parade Tour. All that remained of the original line-up was keyboardist Matt Fink. Brought in to replace them were Miko Weaver on guitar, Atlanta Bliss on trumpet, Eric Leeds on saxophone, (all of whom had joined the expanded "Counter-Revolution" line-up on the Parade Tour) Boni Boyer on keyboards, Levi Seacer, Jr. on bass, as well as dancer and love interest, Cat Glover.
Prince also appeared on Madonna’s studio album Like a Prayer, co-writing and singing the duet Love Song and playing electric guitar (uncredited) on "Like a Prayer", "Keep It Together", and "Act of Contrition".
Prior to the disbanding of The Revolution, Prince was working on two separate projects. The Revolution album, Dream Factory and a solo effort, Camille. Unlike the three previous band albums, Dream Factory included significant input from the band members and even featured a number of songs with lead vocals by Wendy and Lisa, while the Camille project saw Prince create a new persona primarily singing in a sped up, female-sounding voice. With the dismissal of The Revolution, Prince consolidated material from both shelved albums, along with some new songs, into a three-LP album to be titled Crystal Ball. However, with the low sales of his previous two albums, Warner forced Prince to make the release a double album and Sign O’ The Times was released on March 31 1987.
The album peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The first single, Sign O’ The Times, would chart at #3 on the Hot 100. The follow-up single, If I Was Your Girlfriend charted poorly at #67 on the Hot 100, but went to #12 on R&B chart. The third single, a duet with Sheena Easton, U Got The Look charted at #2 on the Hot 100, #11 on the R&B chart, and the final single I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man finished at #10 on Hot 100 and #14 on the R&B chart.
Despite the album receiving the greatest critical acclaim of any album in Prince’s career, including being named the top album of the year by the Pazz & Jop critics' poll, album sales steadily declined, although it eventually sold 3.2 million copies. In Europe however, it performed well and Prince promoted the album overseas with a lengthy tour. Putting together a new backing band from the remnants of The Revolution, Prince added bassist Levi Seacer, Jr., Boni Boyer on keyboards, and dancer/choreographer Cat Glover to go with new drummer Sheila E. and holdovers Miko Weaver, Dr. Fink, Eric Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, and 'the Bodyguards' (Jerome Benton, Wally Safford, and Greg Brooks) for the Sign O’ The Times Tour.
The tour was a huge success overseas with Warner and Prince’s managers wanting to bring it to the U.S. to resuscitate sagging sales of Sign O’ The Times, however Prince balked at a full U.S. tour, as he was ready to produce a new album. A compromise was made where he filmed the last two nights of the tour to be released in movie theaters as a concert film. Unfortunately, the film quality was deemed sub-par and reshoots were performed at his Paisley Park studios. The film Sign O’ The Times was released on November 20 1987. Much like the album, the film was critically praised, (at least more than the previous year’s Under The Cherry Moon) however its box office receipts were minimal and it quickly left theaters.
The next album intended for release was to be The Black Album. More instrumental and funk and R&B themed than recent releases, The Black Album also saw Prince experiment with rap on the songs Bob George and Dead On It. Prince was set to release the album with a complete monochromatic black cover with only the catalog number printed, but at the last minute, even though 500,000 copies had been pressed, Prince had a spiritual epiphany that the album was evil and had the album recalled. (Although it would later be released by Warner Bros.. as a limited edition album in 1994.) Prince went back in the studio for eight weeks and recorded Lovesexy.
Released on May 10 1988, Lovesexy serves as a spiritual opposite to the dark The Black Album. Every song is a solo effort by Prince, with exception of No which was recorded with his backing band at the time, dubbed the "Lovesexy Band" by fans. Lovesexy would reach #11 on the Billboard 200 and #5 on the R&B albums chart. The lead single, Alphabet St., peaked at #8 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the R&B chart, but finished with only selling 750,000 copies.
Prince again took his post-Revolution backing band (minus 'the Bodyguards') on a three leg, 84 show Lovesexy Tour, that although, it played to huge crowds and were well received shows, financially lost money due to the expensive sets and props incorporated.
In 1989, Prince began work on a number of musical projects, including Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic and early drafts of his Graffiti Bridge film, but both were put on hold when he was asked by Batman director Tim Burton to record several songs for the upcoming live-action adaptation. Prince went into the studio and produced an entire 9-track album that Warner Bros. released on June 20 1989. Batman peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200, selling 4.4 million copies.
The single Batdance topped the Billboard and R&B charts. Additionally, the singles Partyman (also featuring the vocals of Prince’s then girlfriend, nicknamed Anna Fantastic) charted at #18 on the Hot 100 and at #5 on the R&B chart, while the love ballad Scandalous went to #5 on the R&B chart. However, he did have to sign away all publishing rights to the songs on the album to Warner Bros. as part of the deal to do the soundtrack.
| The 90's
NPG & Name Change
In 1990, Prince went back on tour with a revamped band for his stripped down, back-to-basics Nude Tour. With the departures of Boni Boyer, Sheila E., the horns, and Cat, Prince brought in Rosie Gaines on keys, drummer Michael B, and dancing trio, The Game Boyz, Tony M., Kirk Johnson, and Damon Dickson. The European and Japanese tour was a financial success with its short, greatest hits setlist.
As the year progressed, Prince finished production on his fourth film, Graffiti Bridge and the album of the same name. Initially, Warner Bros. was reluctant to fund the film, however with Prince’s assurances it would be a sequel to Purple Rain as well as the involvement of the original members of The Time, the studio green-lit the project. Released on August 20 1990, the album reached #6 on the Billboard 200 and R&B albums chart. The single Thieves In The Temple reaching #6 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart.
The film, released on November 20 1990, was a critical and box office flop, grossing just $4.2 million. After the release of the film and album the last remaining members of The Revolution, Miko Weaver and Dr. Fink left Prince’s band.
1991 marked the debut of Prince’s new band, the The New Power Generation. The name come from a concept developed into his previous album, through the number New Power Generation. With guitarist Miko Weaver and long-time keyboardist Doctor Fink gone, Prince added bass player Sonny T., Tommy Barbarella on keyboards, and a brass section known as the Hornheadz to go along with Levi Seacer, Jr. (taking over on guitar), Rosie Gaines, Michael Bland, and Game Boyz.
With significant input from his band members, Diamonds And Pearls was released on October 1 1991. Reaching #3 on the Billboard 200 Diamonds And Pearls saw the singles Gett Off chart at #21 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B charts while Cream gave Prince his fifth US number one single.
1992 saw Prince and The New Power Generation release his twelfth album titled with an unpronounceable symbol: (later copyrighted as Love Symbol #2). would peak at #5 on the Billboard 200. While the label wanted 7 to be the first single, Prince fought to have My Name Is Prince as he "felt that the song’s more hip-hoppery would appeal to the same audience" that had purchased the previous album.
Prince got his way but My Name Is Prince only managed to reach #36 on Billboard Hot 100 and #23 on the R&B chart. The follow-up single Sexy M.F. fared worse, charting at #66 on the Hot 100 and #76 on the R&B chart. The label’s preferred lead single choice 7 would be the album’s lone top ten hit reaching #7. would go on to sell 2.8 million copies worldwide.
After two failed attempts in 1990 and 1991, Warner Bros. finally released a greatest hits compilation with the three-disc The Hits / The B-Sides in 1993. The first two discs were also sold separately as The Hits 1 and The Hits 2.
In addition to featuring the majority of Prince’s hit singles (with the exception of Batdance and other songs that appeared on the Batman soundtrack), The Hits / The B-Sides includes an array of previously hard-to-find recordings, notably B-sides spanning the majority of Prince’s career, as well as a handful of previously unreleased tracks such as The Revolution -recorded Power Fantastic and a live recording of Nothing Compares 2 U with Rosie Gaines. Two new songs, Pink Cashmere and Peach, were chosen as promotional singles to accompany the compilation album.
1993 also marked the year in which Prince changed his stage name , which is a combination of the symbols for male (♂) and female (♀). Because the symbol was and is unpronounceable, he was often referred to as "Symbol", "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince", or simply "The Artist".
In 1994, Prince’s attitude towards his artistic output underwent a notable shift. He began to view releasing albums in quick succession as a means of ejecting himself from his contractual obligations to Warner Bros. The label, he believed, was intent on limiting his artistic freedom by insisting that he release albums more sporadically. He also blamed Warner Bros. for the poor commercial performance of the album, claiming that it was insufficiently marketed by Warner. It was out of these developments that the aborted Black Album was officially released, approximately seven years after its initial recording and near-release.
The "new" release, which was already in wide circulation as a bootleg, sold relatively poorly.
Following that disappointing venture, Warner Bros. succumbed to Prince’s wishes to release an album of new material, to be entitled Come. When Come was eventually released, it confirmed all of Warner’s fears. It became Prince’s poorest-selling album to date, struggling to even shift 500,000 copies. Even more frustrating was the fact that Prince insisted on crediting the album to "Prince 1958–1993".
Prince pushed to have his next album The Gold Experience released simultaneously with -era material. Warner Bros. allowed the single The Most Beautiful Girl In The World to be released via a small, independent distributor, Bellmark Records, in February 1994. The release was successful, reaching #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in many other countries, but it would not prove to be a model for subsequent releases. Warner Bros. Records still resisted releasing The Gold Experience, fearing poor sales and citing "market saturation" as a defense.
When eventually released in September 1995, The Gold Experience failed to sell well, although it reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 initially, and many reviewed it as Prince’s best effort since Sign O’ The Times. The album is now out-of-print.
Free at last
Prince attempted a major comeback later that year when, free of any further contractual obligations to Warner Bros. he released Emancipation. The album was released via his own NPG Records with distribution through EMI. To publish his songs on Emancipation, Prince did not use Controversy Music – ASCAP, which he had used for all his records since 1981, but rather used Emancipated Music Inc. – ASCAP.
While certified Platinum by the RIAA, some critics felt that the sprawling 36-song, 3-CD set (each disc was exactly 60 minutes long) lacked focus, and might have worked better as a single or double disc set. Emancipation is the first record featuring covers by Prince of songs of other artists: Joan Osborne’s top ten hit song of 1995 One Of Us; Betcha By Golly Wow! (written by Thomas Randolf Bell and Linda Creed); Can’t Make U Love Me (written by James Allen Shamblin II and Michael Barry Reid); and La, La, La Means Love U, originally La-La Means I Love You (written by Thomas Randolf Bell and William Hart).
Prince released Crystal Ball a 5-CD collection of unreleased material, in 1998. The distribution of this album was disorderly, with some fans pre-ordering the album on his website up to a year before it was eventually shipped to them, and months after the record had gone on sale in retail stores. The retail edition has only four discs, as it is missing the Kamasutra disk. There are also two different packaging editions for retail, one being in a 4-disc sized jewel case with a simplistic white cover and the -symbol in a colored circle; the other is all four discs in a round translucent snap jewel case. The discs are the same, as is the CD jacket.
The Newpower Soul album released three months later failed to make much of an impression on the charts. His collaboration on Chaka Khan’s Come 2 My House, and Larry Graham’s GCS2000, both released on the NPG Records label around the same time as Newpower Soul met with the same fate, despite heavy promotion and live appearances on Vibe with Sinbad, and the NBC Today show’s Summer Concert Series.
In 1999, Prince once again signed with a major label Arista Records to release a new record, Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic. In an attempt to make his new album a success, Prince easily gave more interviews than at any other point in his career, appearing on MTV’s TRL (with his album cover on the front of the Virgin Megastore, in the background on TRL throughout the whole show), Larry King Live (with Larry Graham) and other media outlets. Nevertheless, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic failed to perform well commercially.
A few months earlier, Warner Bros. had also released The Vault... Old Friends 4 Sale, a collection of unreleased material recorded by Prince throughout his career, and his final recording commitment on his contract with Warner Bros.
The greatest success he had during the year was with the EP 1999: The New Master, released in time for Prince to collect a small portion of the sales dollars Warner Bros. had been seeing for the album and singles of the original 1999. Both critics and fans panned 1999: The New Master, declaring it unimaginative.
The pay-per-view concert, Rave Un2 the Year 2000, was broadcast on 31 December 1999 and consisted of footage from the 17 December and 18 December concerts of his 1999 tour. The concert featured appearances by many guest musicians including Lenny Kravitz, George Clinton, and The Time. It was released to home video the following year. A remix album, Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic (as opposed to "Un2") was released exclusively through Prince’s NPG Music Club in April 2000.
| The 00's
On 16 May 2000, Prince ceased using the moniker and returned to using "Prince" again, after his publishing contract with Warner/Chappell expired. In a press conference, he stated that, after being freed from undesirable relationships associated with the name "Prince", he would formally revert to using his real name. Prince still frequently uses the symbol as a logo and on album artwork and continues to play a -shaped guitar.
For several years following the release of Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, Prince primarily released new music through his Internet subscription service, NPGOnlineLtd.com (later NPGMusicClub.com). Two albums that show substantive jazz influence were available commercially at record stores: 2001’s The Rainbow Children and, later, the 2003 instrumental record N.E.W.S. which was nominated for a Best Pop Instrumental Album Grammy. Another album of largely jazz-influenced music, Xpectation, was released via download in 2003 to members of the NPG Music Club.
During this time, Prince sought to engage more effectively with his fan base via the NPG Music Club, pre-concert sound checks, and at yearly "celebrations" at Paisley Park, his music studios.
Fans were invited into the studio for tours, interviews, discussions and music-listening sessions. Some of these fan discussions were filmed for an unreleased documentary, directed by Kevin Smith. Smith discusses what happened during those days at length in his An Evening with Kevin Smith DVD. Performances were also arranged to showcase Prince’s talents, as well as to collaborate with popular and well-established artists and guests including Alicia Keys, The Time, Erykah Badu, Nikka Costa, George Clinton, Norah Jones.
Released on 14 May 2002 (first shipment arrive) the 25th full-length studio album by Prince is his first album of new material to be released exclusively through the NPG Music Club. The album was mailed to NPG Music Club members worldwide in May 2002 and later in the year, included as a separately-packaged fourth disc with the NPG Music Club edition of One Nite Alone... Live!.
The album is a solo recording by Prince, featuring John Blackwell on drums on only two tracks, Here On Earth and A Case Of U. Sparse in nature, the piece focus on piano and vocals, while other instruments and sound effects appear throughout.
On 1 March 2002, Prince embarks on the One Nite Alone... Tour to promote his latest outputs in the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan. The tour ends in Nagoya in late November. The setlist mainly focused on his last two efforts, added with a few hits and and selected tracks from his Warner era albums. Jazz oriented, reminiscent of the sound produced on The Rainbow Children, the concerts included a piano solo piece to enable Prince to showcase tracks from One Nite Alone. At rare occasions, Prince replaced the piano solo piece by a guitar acoustic solo segment.
A lot of efforts were made to continue to engage with fans: NPG Music Club members were given early entry to venues, enabling them to witness soundchecks. Members were also given priority ticketing to aftershows on the website, a first in Prince’s career.
The One Nite Alone... Tour over, decision was made to issue a live album and a DVD out of it.
Released his first live album, One Nite Alone... Live!, which features performances from the One Nite Alone tour. The 3-CD box set, which also includes a disc of "aftershow" music entitled One Nite Alone... The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over!, failed to chart.
The first audio document of Prince’s concerts, the 2 first CDs includes tracks from nine different shows from eight venues on the One Nite Alone... Tour. The tracklist is fairly representative of a typical night’s show on the tour, although it misses the number of cover versions performed regularly on the tour, leaving only Prince compositions.
The third CD One Nite Alone... The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over is the first official audio document of Prince’s aftershow concerts and includes tracks from three different concerts following shows on the One Nite Alone... Tour.
To be completed
To be completed
On 8 February 2004, Prince appeared at the Grammy Awards with Beyoncé Knowles. In a performance that opened the show, Prince and Knowles performed a medley of Purple Rain, Let’s Go Crazy, Baby I’m A Star, and Knowles' "Crazy in Love" to positive reviews (video). The following month, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The award was presented to him by Alicia Keys along with Big Boi and André 3000 of OutKast. As well as performing a trio of his own hits during the ceremony, Prince also participated in a tribute to fellow inductee George Harrison in a rendition of the deceased artist’s "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", playing a long guitar solo that ended the song (video).
In April 2004, Prince released Musicology through a one-album agreement with Columbia Records. The album rose as high as the top five on a number of international charts (including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia). The US chart success was assisted by the CD being included as part of the concert ticket purchase, and each CD thereby qualifying (as chart rules then stood) towards US chart placement.
That same year, Pollstar named Prince the top concert draw among musicians in USA. Grossing an estimated $87.4 million, Prince’s Musicology Tour was the most profitable tour in the music industry for 2004. The artist played an impressive run of 96 concerts; the average ticket price for a show was US$61. Further highlighting the success of the album, Prince’s Musicology went on to receive two Grammy wins, for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for Call My Name and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for the title track.
Musicology was also nominated for Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album, while Cinnamon Girl was nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. The album became the artist’s most commercially successful since Diamonds And Pearls, partly due to a radical scheme devised which included in Billboard’s sales figures those that were distributed to each customer during ticket sales for the Musicology Tour.
Prince was ranked 7th Greatest Artist of All Time in Acclaimed Music’s list of The 1000 Greatest Artist of All Time. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Prince #28 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In December 2004, Prince was ranked #5 on the Top Pop Artists of the Past 25 Years list by [www.rockonthenet.com]. He was the highest-ranked male performer on the list.
In April 2005, Prince played guitar (along with En Vogue singing backing vocals) on Stevie Wonder’s single "So What the Fuss", Wonder’s first since 1999.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city of New Orleans on 29 August 2005, Prince offered a personal response by recording two new songs, S.S.T. and the instrumental Brand New Orleans, at Paisley Park in the early hours of 2 September. Prince again performed all instrumental and vocal parts. These recordings were quickly dispersed to the public via Prince’s NPG Music Club, and S.S.T. was later picked up by iTunes, where it reached #1 on the store’s R&B chart. On 25 October, Sony Records released a version of the single on CD.
Move To Universal
In late 2005 Prince signed with Universal Records to release his album, 3121, on 21 March 2006, (3/21). The first single was the Latin-tinged Te Amo Corazón, the video for which was directed by actress Salma Hayek and filmed in Marrakech, Morocco, featuring Argentine actress and singer Mía Maestro. The song was covered by Viktoria Tolstoy on her album Pictures of Me, along with another Prince song, Strollin’. The video for the second single, Black Sweat, was nominated at the MTV VMAs for Best Cinematography. The immediate success of 3121 gave Prince his first #1 debut on the Billboard 200 with the album.
To promote the new album, Prince was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on February 4 2006, seventeen years after his last SNL appearance. He performed two songs from the album, Fury and Beautiful, Loved And Blessed, with Támar Davis. Prince also held a contest to win a trip to see a 'Purple Ticket Concert' at his private residence in Hollywood, California. Seven winning tickets were placed inside 3121 CD packages in the US, and other tickets were given away in various contests on the internet and around the world. On 6 May 2006, twenty-four prize winners (with a guest each) attended a star-studded private party and performance at Prince’s home.
On June 12 2006, Prince received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his "visionary" use of the Internet; Prince was the first major artist to release an entire album 1997’s Crystal Ball, exclusively on the internet. A few weeks after winning the award, Prince abruptly shut down his official NPG Music Club website at 12:00 a.m. on July 4 2006 after over five years of operation. The NPG Music Club sent out an email, claiming that: "In its current 4m there is a feeling that the NPG Music Club gone as far as it can go. In a world without limitations and infinite possibilities, has the time come 2 once again make a leap of faith and begin anew? These r ?s we in The NPG need 2 answer. In doing so, we have decided 2 put the club on hiatus until further notice."
On the day of the music club’s shutdown, a lawsuit was filed against Prince by the British company HM Publishing (owners of the Nature Publishing Group, also NPG). Despite these events occurring on the same day, Prince’s attorney called it pure coincidence and stated that the site did not close due to the trademark dispute.
Prince appeared at multiple award ceremonies in 2006. On February 15 2006, Prince performed at the BRIT Awards along with Wendy and Lisa and Sheila E. He played Te Amo Corazón and Fury from 3121 and Purple Rain and Let’s Go Crazy from Purple Rain. On June 27 2006, Prince appeared at the BET Awards, where he was awarded Best Male R&B Artist.
In addition to receiving his award, Prince performed a medley of Chaka Khan songs for Khan’s BET Lifetime Award. Prince had previously written and performed several songs with the singer. In November 2006, Prince was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, appearing to collect his award but not performing. Also in November 2006, Prince opened a nightclub named 3121 in Las Vegas at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino. He performed weekly on Friday and Saturday nights until April 2007 His contract with the Rio ended.
On August 22 2006, Warner Bros. Records released Ultimate, a compilation of remastered material. The double disc set contains one CD of previous hits, and another of extended versions and mixes of material that had largely only previously been available on vinyl record B-sides.
Prince wrote and performed a song for the hit 2006 animated film "Happy Feet". The song, entitled The Song Of The Heart, appears on the film’s soundtrack, which also features a cover of Prince’s 1986 hit Kiss, sung by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. In January 2007, "Song of the Heart" won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Prince arrived late supposedly due to traffic problems and thus was unable to make an acceptance speech, but actor Hugh Grant prompted him later in the ceremony to take a bow.
On February 2 2007, Prince played at the Super Bowl XLI press conference. He and the band played a set comprising of Chuck Berry’s hit, Johnny B. Goode", Anotherloverholenyohead from Parade and Get On The Boat from 3121. Prince performed at the Super Bowl XLI halftime show in Miami, Florida on February 4 2007. The performance consisted of three Purple Rain tracks (Let’s Go Crazy, Baby I’m A Star and the title track), along with cover versions of "We Will Rock You" by Queen, "All Along the Watchtower" by Bob Dylan, the Foo Fighters song "Best Of You" and "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Coincidentally, Miami had rain on the day of the Super Bowl, which was lit purple during the performance of Purple Rain. He played on a large stage shaped as his famous symbol. The event was carried to 140 million television viewers, the largest audience of his life.
Prince announced that he would play 21 concerts in London over the summer of 2007. The 21 Nights In London : The Earth Tour included 21 nights at the 20,000 capacity O² Arena. Tickets for the O² Arena were priced at £31.21 (including a free copy of Prince’s latest album), in order to make the concerts "affordable for everybody". The residency at the O² Arena was increased to 15 nights after all 140,000 tickets for the original seven sold out in just 20 minutes. It was then further extended to 21 nights.
On 10 May 2007, Prince performed a ’secret' gig at London’s Koko in front of a small crowd (between) fans and celebrities. Tickets went on sale that morning on a first-come-first-served basis (again at £31.21). A prelude to the forthcoming summer gigs in London, Prince played a relaxed set of classic hits including "Kiss (changing the lyric from "You don’t have to watch Dynasty" to "Desperate Housewives"), Girls & Boys and Nothing Compares 2 U alongside more recent tracks, plus a well-received cover version of Gnarls Barkley’s "Crazy".
Prince made an appearance at the 2007 ALMA Awards, performing with Sheila E. in June 2007.
On 28 June 2007, the UK national newspaper The Mail on Sunday revealed that it had made a deal to give Prince’s new album, Planet Earth, away for free with an "imminent" edition of the paper, making it the first place in the world to get the album. This move sparked controversy among music distributors and also led the UK arm of Prince’s distributor, Sony BMG, to withdraw from distributing the album in UK stores. The UK’s largest high street music retailer, HMV decided to stock the paper on release day due to the giveaway.
On 7 July 2007 Prince returned to his hometown of Minneapolis to perform three shows in what was unofficially declared Prince Day in Minnesota. He performed concerts at the Macy’s Auditorium on Nicollet Mall, the Target Center and First Avenue.
Prince at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2007. To be developed.
On 25 April 2008, Prince performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he debuted a new song, "Turn Me Loose". Days after, he headlined the Coachella Festival 2008.
In October 2008 Prince released a live album entitled Indigo Nights, as well as 21 Nights, an accompanying book of poems, lyrics and photos. The book chronicled his record-breaking tenure at London’s O² Arena in 2007, while the album is a collection of songs performed live at aftershows in the IndigO².
On 18 December 2008, Prince premiered 4 songs from his new album on LA’s Indie 103 radio show, comprising a cover of Crimson And Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells, together with Colonized Mind, Wall Of Berlin and 4ever. The same day, another new Prince composition entitled (There’ll Never B) Another Like Me premiered on the website, www.mplsound.com - replacing a shorter, instrumental version of the song which streamed several days previously. In a subsequent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Prince announced his intention to release three separate albums in 2009: LotusFlow3r, MPLSound, and an album, credited to the new protege, Bria Valente, called Elixer.
On 3 January 2009, a new website (http://www.lotusflow3r.com) was launched, streaming some of the recently-aired material (Crimson And Clover, (There’ll Never B) Another Like Me and Here Eye Come) and promising opportunities to listen to and buy music by Prince and guests, watch videos and buy concert tickets for future events. Prince recently released 3 more songs on his new website: Chocolate Box, Colonized Mind, and All This Love.
Prince set a new standard for his live performances on March 28th 2009, in Los Angeles, playing 3 concert within a single day at 3 different venues. He revised the idea later in the year with the "2 in 1" night formula, a concept he previewed in Montreux, on July 18th: two concerts the same night in the same venue. He refined it a month later on August 13th in Monaco, finding in Salle Garnier a venue of exception. After seeing a fashion show in Le Grand Palais, in Paris, Prince revamped "2 in 1" into "All Day, All Night" and performed two consecutive concerts on October 11th 2009. Prince closed the decade with a one-off concert in his hometown, on October 24th 2009.
| The 10's
In a poll by BBC 6 Music listeners in April 2010, Prince was ranked the eighth-best guitarist of the previous 30 years.
Prince released a new single on Minneapolis radio station 89.3 The Current called "Hot Summer" on June 7, his 52nd birthday. Also in June, Prince appeared on the cover of the July 2010 issue of Ebony and he received a "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the 2010 BET Awards.
Rejection of the Internet and touring
Prince released his album 20Ten in July 2010 as a free covermount with publications in the UK, Belgium, Germany, and France. Prince refused access to the album to digital download services. He also closed his official website, LotusFlow3r.com. In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Prince said: "The Internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it... Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you."
On July 4 2010 Prince began his 20TEN Tour, a summer concert tour in Europe. The second leg, named Prince Live 2010 began on October 15 and ended with a concert following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 14. Prince Live 2010 featured a new NPG line-up including John Blackwell on drums to replace Cora Coleman-Dunham, Ida Kristine Nielsen on bass instead of Josh Dunham, and Sheila E. on percussion.
On 8 October 2010, french radio station Europe 1 debut the clip of a new song, Rich Friends, from 20Ten Deluxe (thought to be a deluxe edition of 20Ten that never materialized). The track, a previously-unreleased song, was streamed in full (with three station IDs overdubbed onto the track) on KTU.com (the website of New York, NY, USA, radio station 103.5 KTU), beginning on 14 October 2010.
A live recording of Stratus, a cover version of the 1973 Billy Cobham track, was streamed on Drfunkenberry.com, beginning on 2 November 2010. The recording, taken from 22 October 2010, MCH MultiArena / Jyske Bank Boxen, Herning, Denmark, is the first available recording to feature new bass guitarist Ida Nielsen.
Prince was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame on December 7 2010.
On 13 December 2010, KTU.com released an audio podcast of Prince’s appearance the same day on New York, NY, USA, radio station 103.5 KTU, giving a brief interview about the upcoming Welcome 2 America Tour, due to start 2 days after, on December 15 2010. This is believed to be the first authorized podcast of a Prince interview.
Prince took the opportunity of the Welcome 2 America Tour to preview new songs: Black Muse, sung by Shelby J., Liv Warfield & Elisa Dease while Prince was offstage, was played during the first Welcome 2 America Tour show, 15 December 2010., Welcome 2 America was premiered on 18 December 2010, and lyrics from the track have been included a few times in performances of Dreamer since then. The lyrics of Gingerbread Man have been sung over the backing music of The Question Of U/The One a few times, beginning 29 December 2010.
On February 12 2011, Prince presented Barbra Streisand with an award and donated $1.5 million to charities. On the same day, it was reported that he was unimpressed about Glee covering his hit "Kiss", and that he had not authorized this.
A digital album titled The Best Of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame + Museum Live was released on 15 March 2011, including Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison and Prince’s live version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, marking its first audio release (the song was previously released on DVD).
94 East released a digital collection of The Cookhouse Five sessions on 5 April 2011. This set includes If We Don’t, If You See Me, I’ll Always Love You, Games and Better Than You Think, featuring Prince as a musician, to mark the 35th anniversary of their recording (although the tracks were recorded in 1975). The tracks are remixed by Matt "Dr." Fink.
On May 18 2011, it was announced that Prince would be headlining Hop Farm Festival on July 3 2011, marking his first UK show since 2007 and his first ever UK festival appearance.
Like he did during the Welcome 2 America Tour, Prince previewed new songs during the Welcome 2 America Euro 2011 Tour: We Live (2 Get Funky), was performed on the French TV show Le Grand Journal, broadcast live on TV and online (although the song was first played live three days earlier, 24 June 2011) and he sang lyrics to a new song, Only Heaven Knows (over the music of Thank You For Talkin’ To Me Africa on 30 June 2011 at Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France.
Also played were: a previously-unknown song by new bandmember Andy Allo, People Pleaser, which contains writing input by Prince, a song tentatively known as When She Comes, performed at the one-off show on 11 May 2011 and another song tentatively titled U Will B was played on 5 May 2011.
Despite having previously rejected the internet for music distribution, On 23 November 2011 a single of Extraloveable, containing a 2011 re-recording of the previously-unreleased 1982 track Extraloveable, was released on iTunes Canada. The song features a rap by Andy Allo, and was presented as a Canadian exclusive to celebrate the tour to come, but it was also available in Europe and in Australia from the 24th onwards. It was also made available on Spotify. The digital single was released in the USA a few days after on 29 November 2011.
Swiss record label Purple Music released a new version of the 2009 single Dance 4 Me on 9 December 2011, containing newly-created remixes of the track. The single was available under Vinyl, Vinyl Picture Disc and CD formats.
On 23 February 2012 Swiss record label Purple Music released 2nite, a Bria Valente single, containing newly-created remixes of the track written and produced by Prince (originally from her 2009 album Elixer).
On 8 March 2012, a 1:09 clip of the studio version of People Pleaser by Andy Allo (executive produced by, and likely featuring Prince) was streamed on drfunkenberry.com to accompany an announcement about the album Superconductor.
Prince was also the album’s executive producer, along with Trombone Shorty (marking his first appearance on a Prince -related album), Maceo Parker and the Hornheadz (making their first appearance on a Prince -related album since 2001’s The Rainbow Children) and members of the New Power Generation.
A week later, on 23 April 2012, another rehearsal track, a 9:54 rehearsal version of Mutiny containing an interpolation of Ice Cream Castles by Prince and the New Power Generation was streamed on drfunkenberry.com.
On 30 May 2012, TripleM.com.au released an audio podcast of Prince’s telephone interview the same day on Melbourne, Australia, radio station 105.1 Triple M, giving a brief interview about the Welcome 2 Australia Tour on the day of its final show during an in-studio interview with tour dancer Damaris Lewis.
Welcome 2 Chicago Residency
On 12 June 2012, a 19:00 rehearsal version of Days Of Wild containing interpolations of Wild And Loose, Ain’t Nobody and America by Prince and the New Power Generation was streamed on various NPG members social media pages.
On 31 August 2012, a residency at Chicago’s United Center was announced for September. Falling somewhat short of a residency, only three shows came to fruition.
On 22 November 2012, Swiss label Purple Music released a new Prince single, Rock And Roll Love Affair. Available on Vinyl, CD and Digital formats, the single include the original version of the song, a radio mix and 4 Jamie Lewis remixes. The single, which featured Andy Allo had been on rotation on European radios since 12 October 2012.
During the remainder of 2012, Prince assembled a new band 3rdEyeGirl. A YouTube account was created on 31 December 2012 to launch the first band video, a December 2012 rehearsal of Bambi, introducing Hannah Ford and Donna Grantis.
In January 2013, unreleased material such as an extended version of Laydown and a remix of Rock And Roll Love Affair, were streamed via the YouTube account, soon promoted by a newly created [3rdEyeGirl twitter Account]. New songs were also posted: Same Page Different Book and a live excerpt of Chapter & Verse.
Soon after a three night residency was organized in Minneapolis at Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant where Prince introduced three band line-ups:
On 10 February 2013 a new website, prince2013.com was launched, and released a Screwdriver|video for the song Screwdriver; the video was available in .mov and .mp4 formats. It was also made available on 3rdEyeGirl.com. 5 days later, the video was deleted from both websites, and replaced it by an edited version, available in .mov and .mp4 formats for the same price.
On 22 February 2013 3rdEyeGirl.com released Live Out Loud, the first song featuring 3rdEyeGirl lead vocals by Hannah Ford, Donna Grantis and Ida Nielsen; Live Out Loud|a music video for the song was then released on 2 March 2013.
On 13 March 2013 a 2:32 video entitled Plectrumelectrum: an extremely short film by Madison Dubé (shot in Paisley Park) was streamed on her Vimeo account and promoted by 3rdEyeGirl Twitter account. The track performed a rearranged version of "Elektra (Elektra Suite)", a number composed by Donna Grantis that she had formerly released in 2012 on her album: "Suites".
On 3 April 2013 a 4:37 'audio video' instrumental rehearsal medley of Boom followed by Stratus (dubbed BOOMSTRATUS) was streamed on Madison Dubé’s Vimeo account, with revolving photographs of the 3rdEyeGirl band as background images behind the track. It was removed within minutes, as Madison Dubé stated it was a work-in-progress. The same instrumental version was put back on line a few hours later.
On 12 April 2013, a new song FixUrLifeUp was premiered on Toronto (Canada) radio station CBC Radio’s show Q with Jian Ghomeshi, in order to promote the opening dates of the Live Out Loud Tour, starting three days later.
The tour consisted of 18 dates in selected cities on the West Coast of America, with an additional stop in Vancouver as tour opener, and a last concert organized in Minneapolis, Myth Live. Most dates featured two concerts. The tour, meant to present 3rdEyeGirl to the public, was mostly promoted on the band an associates social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube).
After the tour, videos and new songs continued to regularly be streamed or released online.
Launched by Prince on 12 June 2013 via LiveStream.com, the new TV channel had broadcast for the first four days of its existence in a row, from 19 June 2013 to 23 June 2013. Two new broadcasts were then aired on 26 June 2013 and 27 June 2013. All these were from Paisley Park Studios.
On 30 June 2013, part of a show was broadcast live from Chicago. After that the broadcasts continued with an irregular interval.
Broadcasts were usually not advertised until about one hour before show time. An announcement was often made on the channel’s blog, reading for example "Tune in shortly for a surprise". Some Broadcasts were not advertised though, and went on air without notice. Members could subscribe to get a notification via e-mail or text when the TV broadcast went live. Duration of the broadcasts varied from three to 90 minutes.
Prince and 3rdEyeGirl used the TV broadcast to present a lot of new material, covers, unseen live footage and rehearsals:
From 11 to 27 July 2013 3rdEye TV temporarily ceased broadcast, while Prince, The NPG and 3rdEyeGirl were touring in Europe. The last episodes mainly consisted of live material from 15 July 2013 Auditorium Stravinski, Montreux, Switzerland, 4 August 2013, Skeppsholmen, Stockholm, Sweden, 7 August 2013, Dyrehaven - Bøgescenen, Skanderborg, Denmark, 11 August 2013 (show #2), Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; 17 August 2013, Coliseu dos Recreios - Sala Principal, Lisbon, Portugal.
3rdEye TV ceased broadcast after episode #21, on 5 October 2013.
A Singles Market
For the remainder of 2013 and throughout 2014, Prince continued to release one-off singles or unreleased songs either on iTunes or on YouTube.
Breakfast Can Wait
A lot of promotion for Breakfast Can Wait music video ensued in October: a clip of a Breakfast Can Wait remix dubbed "The Breakfast Experience" was posted on The NPG Soundcloud account and Breakfast Can Wait music video was premiered on Prince’s VEVO account on 11 October 2013.
On 24 October 2013, a 5-track EP titled The Breakfast Experience was released on iTunes, containing different versions of Breakfast Can Wait, remixed by Joshua Welton. A video teaser for the EP was previously released on the 3rdEyeGirl YouTube account on 12 October 2013.
On 18 November 2013, a download of a 'demo' later revealed to be titled Da Bourgeoisie was posted on 3rdEyeGirl Twitter account. The final version was made available on 3rdEyeTunes.com on 25 November 2013.
The last days of 2013 were dedicated to a three nights residency at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, USA.
February 2014 was dedicated to a hit and run club tour in London. Announced at last minute notice, most of the times less than twelve hours before showtime, tickets for the show were to be collected at venue ticket office, with a strict rule of one ticket per person and immediate venue entry.
Prince appeared in New Girl, a special episode broadcast on FOX immediately after their Sports’ coverage of SUPER BOWL XLVIII on 2 February 2014 at 10:30-11:00 p.m. ET/7:30-8:00 p.m. PT and attracted an audience of 25.8 million viewers.
The episode featured a new track, credited to "Prince feat. Zooey Deschanel". The song was officially premiered on radio station 102.3 KJLH, based in Los Angeles, CA, USA, before being officially released on 17 March 2014 on iTunes.
Released as a digital single released 18 April 2014 as a stand-alone Prince single, Breakdown was made available on iTunes and Spotify several hours after a press release announcing a major deal between Prince and Warner Bros. Records.
The release of PlectrumElectrum on 30 September 2014 (29 September 2014 in Europe) marks both a return to work with Warner Bros. Records and the final act of the 3rdEyeGirl project as Prince will refocus later on his solo act.
The album reached number 1 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart, and 8 on The Billboard 200. It also entered the main charts in Europe, Australia and Japan, reaching top 10 positions in Austria, Denmark, France, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Art Official Age
Prince releases Art Official Age, his 37th full-length studio album, four years after the previous album 20Ten, and on the same day Plectrumelectrum was released. Prince worked heavily with Joshua Welton on the album, and Welton received co-producer credit on it.
The album achieved better success that his 3rdEyeGirl counterpart: it reached number 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, number 1 on the Billboard R&B albums chart, and 5 on The Billboard 200. It also entered the main charts in Europe, Australia and Japan, reaching top 5 positions in Denmark, France, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands and top 10 positions in Austria, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
In May 2015, Prince returns to using an internet platform as a promotion and selling tool with a partnership with Tidal.
On 7 August 2015, Prince’s new album Hitnrun Phase One was announced as a Tidal exclusive, and when the album was made available on Tidal on 7 September 2015, it was accompanied by a significant presence of exclusive material on the platform.
In addition to Hitnrun Phase One, several out-of-print albums were made available, including some NPG Music Club albums that had not previously been available in high definition: The Chocolate Invasion (with a slightly altered tracklist from its initial release in 2004), The Slaughterhouse, Xpectation and C-Note. Also available was The Truth, previously only available as part of the Crystal Ball set, as well as the majority of the rest of Prince’s main album catalog.
A "Purple Pick of the Week" section was also created, with a significant presence on the main Tidal homepage.
Hit And Run Phase One
Formerly announced as a Tidal exclusive, Prince releases Hitnrun Phase One worldwide on 14 September 2015. The album, recorded solely by Prince and Joshua Welton, was very electronic oriented, exploring the sound produced on the track Art Official Cage on the previous album.
The album reached position 7 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts and 70 on the Billboard 200. It failed to reach top 10 positions in Europe, Australia and Japan.
Hit And Run Phase Two
Released on 12 December 2015, via Tidal with no prior announcement Hitnrun Phase Two is the counterpart of Phase One, focusing on a more traditional old school funk in Prince’s canon. The album gathered new material as well as four singles that had already been released between 2011 and early 2015. It received a confidential release on CD, but wasn’t distributed in retail stores throughout the world. It has been given away at concerts and other events and besides on Tidal is also available on iTunes with little to no promotion.
On 16 February 2016, Prince launched Prince: Piano & A Microphone tour in Australia, which he continued with selected dates in the USA and Canada in March and April
to be completed
On 21 April 2016 Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in his studio and home Paisley Park Studios.
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