Prince Rogers Nelson, known simply as Prince, died on Thursday, April 21, at his Paisley Park recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota, at the age of 57. The iconic musician was known for his funky style and hits like “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” and “Little Red Corvette.” Prince was very private but lived a fascinating life. Here are some interesting things you may not have known about the late singer, according to Us Weekly.
Although his real name is actually Prince, he changed it to an unpronounceable symbol, which he referred to as “Love Symbol No. 2,” in 1993 as a renegotiation strategy for his recording contract. He became known as “Symbol Man,” “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince,” or just simply “The Artist.” He changed it back to Prince in 2000 when his contract expired.
The seven-time Grammy winner was married twice. He married his backup dancer Mayte Garcia in 1996, but they split after just a few years. In 2000, he married Canadian businesswoman Manuela Testolini, but she filed for divorce in 2006. Mayte described how strange their relationship was. She said, “I wasn’t allowed to call him, ever. Even when we were married; I had to wait for him to call me. I’ve no idea why, he never actually said … It was a strange relationship.”
Prince suffered the loss of a son, Boy Gregory, who died just a week after he was born due to a skeletal abnormality known as Pfeiffer Syndrome. Prince and his then-wife, Garcia, refused to ever publicly discuss the topic. The “Purple Rain” singer briefly dated Madonna in 1985. Prince also romanced several other Hollywood starlets, including Carmen Electra and Kim Basinger.
Prince was a self-taught musician and learned piano at age 7, guitar at 13 and drums at 14. Prince started his first band, Grand Central, during high school and signed with Warner Bros. as a teen. Despite Prince’s small stature at just 5 foot 2, he was a talented basketball player and once played for one of the best school teams in Minnesota.
In 1984, the pop icon simultaneously topped the album and singles charts for the Purple Rain soundtrack and “When Doves Cry” and held the No. 1 spot at the movie box office for the film “Purple Rain,” which earned $68,392,977 and only cost $7 million to make. The “Purple Rain” soundtrack spent 24 weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard charts.
His song “Purple Rain” was originally 13-minutes long, but he edited it down to just eight minutes. He also originally asked Stevie Nicks to write the lyrics, but she backed out after hearing the long track. She said, “It was so overwhelming. I just got scared.”
Prince didn’t like the Internet. He banned photography and recording at all his concerts. He sued 22 fans who uploaded footage of his sets to YouTube in January 2014.
Prince was a devout Jehovah’s Witness and even went door-to-door for them. After he was baptized in 2001, he refused to swear in his songs or regularly sing older songs about sex such as “Darling Nikki” and “Little Red Corvette.” He would distribute Watchtower magazines after his parties.
In addition to his catalogue of over 600 songs, he wrote many hits for other artists, including “Manic Monday” by The Bangles and “I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan. Five of Prince’s singles have topped the charts and 14 other songs hit the Top 10. He simultaneously held the number one spots for film, single and album. During the week of July 27, 1984, Prince’s film Purple Rain hit number one at the box office. That same week, the film’s soundtrack was the best-selling album and “When Doves Cry” was holding the top spot for singles.
In 2012, Prince was ordered to pay a perfume company $4 million, after failing to promote one of their fragrances. Revelations Perfume and Cosmetics sued the superstar back in 2008 after he reneged on a deal to promote a scent called 3121, named after his 2006 album. Prince once paid a salon in Washington to close down, black out all the windows and do his hair.