Legendary, genre-bending rocker Prince diedÂ at the age of 57. In addition to being a musical pioneer, the Minneapolis native dabbled in filmmaking, most successfully with 1984â€™sÂ Purple Rain. While most people know about the singerâ€™s infamous name change, here are 10 things you might not have known about the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
1. HIS REAL NAME WAS PRINCE.
Born to two musical parents on June 7, 1958, Prince Rogers Nelson was named after his fatherâ€™s jazz combo.
2. HE WAS A JEHOVAHâ€™S WITNESS.
Baptized in 2001, Prince was a devout Jehovahâ€™s Witness; he even went door-to-door. In October 2003, a woman in Eden Prairie, Minnesota opened her door to discover the famously shy artist and his bassist, former Sly and the Family Stone member Larry Graham, standing in front of her home. â€œMy first thought is â€˜Cool, cool, cool. He wants to use my house for a set. Iâ€™m glad! Demolish the whole thing! Start over!,'â€ the woman told The Star Tribune. â€œThen they start in on this Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses stuff. I said, â€˜You know what? Youâ€™ve walked into a Jewish household, and this is not something Iâ€™m interested in.â€™ He says, â€˜Can I just finish?â€™ Then the other guy, Larry Graham, gets out his little Bible and starts reading scriptures about being Jewish and the land of Israel.â€
3. HE WROTE A LOT OF SONGS FOR OTHER ARTISTS.
In addition to penning several hundred songs for himself, Prince also composed music forother artists, including â€œManic Mondayâ€Â for the Bangles, â€œI Feel For Youâ€Â for Chaka Khan, and â€œNothing Compares 2 Uâ€Â for SinÃ©ad Oâ€™Connor.
4. HIS SYMBOL ACTUALLY HAD A NAME.
Even though the whole world referred to him as either â€œThe Artistâ€ or â€œThe Artist Formerly Known as Prince,â€ that weird symbol Prince used was actually known as â€œLove Symbol #2.â€Â It was copyrighted in 1997, but when Princeâ€™s contract with Warner Bros. expired at midnight on December 31, 1999, he announced that he was reclaiming his given name.
5. HIS SISTER SUED HIM.
In 1987, Princeâ€™s half-sister, Lorna Nelson, sued him, claiming that she had written the lyrics to â€œU Got the Look,â€Â a song from â€œSign â€˜â˜®â€˜ the Timesâ€ that features pop artist Sheena Easton. In 1989, the court sided with Prince.
6. HE TICKED OFF A VICE PRESIDENTâ€™S WIFE.
In 1984, after purchasing the Purple Rain soundtrack for her then-11-year-old daughter, Tipper Goreâ€”ex-wife of former vice president Al Goreâ€”became enraged over the explicit lyrics of â€œDarling Nikki,â€Â a song that references masturbation and other graphic sex acts. Gore felt that there should be some sort of warning on the label and in 1985 formed the Parents Music Resource Center, which pressured the recording industry to adopt a ratings system similar to the one employed in Hollywood. To Princeâ€™s credit, he didnâ€™t oppose the label system and became one of the first artists to release a â€œcleanâ€Â version of explicit albums.
7. HE TOOK A PROMOTIONAL TIP FROM WILLY WONKA.
In 2006, Universal hid 14 purple ticketsâ€”seven in the U.S. and seven internationallyâ€”inside Princeâ€™s latest album, 3121. Fans who found a purple ticket were invited to attend a private performance at Princeâ€™s Los Angeles home.
8. HE SIMULTANEOUSLY HELD THE NUMBER ONE SPOTS FOR FILM, SINGLE, AND ALBUM.
During the week of July 27, 1984, Princeâ€™s film Purple Rain hit number one at the box office. That same week, the filmâ€™s soundtrack was the best-selling album and â€œWhen Doves Cryâ€Â was holding the top spot for singles.
9. HE SCREWED UP ON SNL.
During Princeâ€™s first appearance on Saturday Night Live, he performed the song â€œPartyupâ€Â and sang the lyric, â€œFightinâ€™ war is a such a f*ing bore.â€Â It went unnoticed at the time, but in the closing segment, Charles Rocket clearly said, â€œIâ€™d like to know who the f* did it.â€Â This was the only episode of SNL where the f-bomb was dropped twice.
10. HE KILLED AN ALBUM RELEASE AFTER â€œA SPIRITUAL EPIPHANY.â€
In 1987, Prince was due to release â€œThe Black Album.â€Â However, mere days before it was scheduled to drop, Prince scrapped the whole thing, calling it â€œdark and immortal.â€Â The musician claimed to have reached this decision following â€œa spiritual epiphany.â€Â Some reports say that it was actually an early experience with drug ecstasy, while others suggested The Artist just knew it would flop.