Artist of the Week (Legend Series)- Prince

In the 1980’s, only three people dominated the music scene:  Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince.  Of those three artists, Prince was my favorite.  At first, one would think writing a featured piece on Prince would be fairly easy, but after researching our Legend of the Month, I realized that this was no easy blog. With over 35 studio albums (not counting compilations and live albums), Prince is still making music today.  In fact, Prince has released his latest album 20Ten in the UK and Germany, free with the purchase of a newspaper!  Prince is one of the most successful and most controversial artists of our generation.  While pages could be written about this amazing musician, I will try to condense it for you!

First and foremost let me say this: Prince’s actual name is Prince, isn’t that interesting?  Prince released his first album For You in 1978, with little hype.  It wasn’t until his second album, Prince, that people started to pay attention.  With the release of his single, “I Wanna Be Your Lover” Prince got some airplay and started touring with Rick James.  The albums Dirty Mind and Controversy were released in 1980 and 1981.  As with any Prince album, his sexually explicit lyrics combined with his heavy funk sound made him a hit with young listeners.

The album, 1999 was released in 1982 which started making Prince a household name.  By this point, Prince had been getting much more radio-play with his Funk-Pop sound.  Songs like “1999,” “Little Red Corvette,” and “Delirious” dominated the charts.   Then, in 1984, Prince reached Pop Mega Star status, with the release of his movie and album by the same name, Purple Rain.

Purple Rain happens to be one of my personal favorite albums, and I’m not the only one who agrees.  These are the media sources and their rankings all-time for this album: Time Magazine ranked the album 15th, VH1 ranked the album 18th, Rolling Stone ranked it 72nd (they also ranked it the second best album of the 80’s), Zounds ranked it 18th and Entertainment Weekly ranked it the No. 1 album of the last 25 years.  It has also been certified as 13-times Platinum by the RIAA.  Pretty impressive!   What most people don’t know is that the album was also infamous in Pop-Culture.  When this album was released, the record labels did not put the “Parental Advisory” label on the album covers.  The song “Darling Nikki” changed all that, with its strong sexual content.

It seemed that not long after that, Prince changed in the media.  In 1992, Price declared that he would become that symbol thing.  At one point, during a performance, he wrote the word “Slave” across his check.  Since about 1992, Prince and his record label (Warner Bros.) have been in a constant struggle over his musical direction.  While Prince wanted more “creative freedom” the record label wanted more “hits.”  With little to no radio air play, the record labels started to demand more albums.  Prince did so, but his art truly suffered.

Between 1992-1999 (ironically), Prince/his record label released many compilation albums of previously unavailable recordings.  It seemed like his fans were getting albums based on “old” demos and unreleased tracks.  In 1999, Prince was able to be released from his label and signed with Arista Records.  That year, Prince released a very critically acclaimed album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic.  This was more of a “comeback” album. Although it is a pretty solid album, it did very poorly on the charts.

Frustrated with the record labels, Prince founded his own website and started selling his albums through there.  Prince had complete control over his music and started releasing quality albums.  Of late, Prince announced that the Internet was “dead.”  He shut down his website and announced that all his albums would be only available as a hard copy.  Who knows if this will help or hurt his cause, but one thing is for certain: Prince has never been afraid of taking chances!  He has built his career on gambling with his personality and creativity.  He has stumbled along the way, but he is still one of the most successful artists/entertainers of all-time.  So this month, we pay tribute to the man who introduced us to the color purple.

Top 5 Songs

1. Baby, I’m A Star

2. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man

3. When You Were Mine

4. Purple Rain

5. When Doves Cry

Since Prince doesn’t believe in the internet, there aren’t too many useful links, but here are some that I found:

Useful Links

The Most Complete Prince Fan Site

Prince Fams