The world was shocked and saddened to learn on April 21, 2016 that Prince, a true legend and icon of the music and entertainment industries, had passed away at the age of 57 years old. Prince was far more than just a talented artist who had some hits and who created memorable music. Prince was a symbol – both figuratively and, of course, literally for a time – of what it meant to be an original star in a business where it was easy and also worth quite a bit of money to merely copy those who had found fame and fortune in the past. Prince was a once-in-a-generation talent, and there will never be another one like him.
Even casual fans who did not own every Prince album will be familiar with his hits. They would probably be able to hum tunes such as “Little Red Corvette,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “1999” and “When Doves Cry” without even thinking about it. As incredible a musician and entertainer as Prince was, he was also a fascinating individual who could have written numerous autobiographies about his life and times. Those of us who were lucky enough to see Prince perform live at a venue are better off for it, and the world as a whole is better off because of the gifts that Prince gave us over the decades. Thank you for everything, Prince.
15. He Wrote His First Song At Age 7
What were you doing when you were 7 years old? Perhaps you were learning how to play different sports, or maybe you were trying to color while staying within the lines. Prince, on the other hand, was beginning what was to become a career unlike any other before or after his. His first song, named “Funk Machine” (because of course it was!), was written when Prince was just 7. There were many, many ways in which Prince was simply different than we mere mortals. That Prince began writing songs at such a young age is but one example, and it serves as a reminder that some out there are, simply stated, special.
14. He Had Early Touches With Greatness
Some people are seemingly destined for greatness at a young age. That was Prince in so many different ways. Prince told a story about how he danced on stage with none other than James Brown when Prince was 10 years old. Later in his life when he was in his 20s, Prince was able to share a stage with Michael Jackson and James Brown. All three of those brilliant individuals are now gone, but the legacies that they left will never disappear so long as we are able to go back and listen and watch their old performances. You nevertheless have to feel a little jealous of those who were able to be there live when Prince, Jackson and Brown shared a stage.
13. He Played On Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”
Prince and Madonna will forever be linked together because of the music that they produced in the 1980s. You may not know that Prince and Madonna were also known to have a working relationship. Madonna’s co-writer and co-producer Patrick Leonard once discussed that relationship while speaking with Billboard.com. According to Leonard, Prince’s genius can be heard on an iconic Madonna song. “What I know is that his guitar work is on, when you start ‘Like a Prayer,’ the guitar that you hear before the door slams…that’s Prince,” Leonard explained during the interview.
12. He Grew Up In Poverty
Prince was worth literally millions upon millions of dollars at the time of his passing. That was not always the case. While speaking with Rolling Stone back in 1985, Prince gave a glimpse of what his life was like during his younger days:
“We used to go to that McDonald’s there,” he says. “I didn’t have any money, so I’d just stand outside there and smell stuff. Poverty makes people angry, brings out their worst side. I was very bitter when I was young. I was insecure and I’d attack anybody. I couldn’t keep a girlfriend for two weeks. We’d argue about anything.”
11. His Tie to John Lennon
Prince was known to be a fan of The Beatles and of John Lennon. He even played some Beatles tunes during shows for fans who were lucky enough to be in attendance on a given night. One story that serves as a reminder that it really is a small world involves Prince and Lennon. Prince, as fate would have it, was in New York City and only a few blocks from the famous Dakota building when Lennon was gunned down and killed. It has been said that some members of Prince’s band went to the Dakota the day after Lennon was murdered, but Prince did not make the journey at that time.
10. He Was A Great Athlete
The Charlie Murphy/Prince skit was maybe the best ever created for the Chappelle Show that, like Prince, was gone too soon. As funny as it is to this day, there is some truth behind the humorous tale. Prince was, as depicted in the program, a talented basketball player while in his youth. Prince was not just a one-sport athlete while in middle school and high school, though, as he also dabbled in football and in baseball. Prince could do just about anything, or so it seemed, but we are glad that he did not pursue a career as a professional athlete.
9. He Played All the Instruments
Those who were able to see Prince play live with his band may have been lucky enough to witness Prince go around the stage and play literally every instrument. That was not a gimmick. Prince, per Rolling Stone, played “nearly all of the instruments” used in the recordings of his first five albums. It has been said that Prince could play up to 27 instruments well enough to not require any other bandmates when recording. The only reason Prince needed a band was that we were unable to perfect the art of cloning before Prince’s passing. You let us down, scientists.
8. Spaghetti and Orange Juice
Prince was human, even though there were times when it seemed as if he was a higher being all together, and thus the man had to eat meals just like the rest of us. Apparently, one of Prince’s favorite meals during the filming of Purple Rain consisted of spaghetti and orange juice. Another funny tidbit from that time is that Prince would eat out at a Denny’s “or something like that” and just sit in a booth. Imagine being at some diner getting ready to have some greasy-spoon food, and in walks Prince to have some spaghetti with a side of orange juice. What an amazing story you would have been able to tell
7. Prince Hated Piracy
Artists are understandably very protective of the music that they create. Prince was no different, and some may have said that he went too far regarding the matter. In 2014, Prince filed copyright infringement lawsuits in California after fans uploaded live Prince performances onto the Internet. It is not uncommon for somebody attending a concert to shoot a video of a favorite song and then share that video via a personal Facebook, Twitter or YouTube account. Prince reminded everybody that his music was his, and that he wanted people to fork money over if they were to hear his music in any way.
6. Prince and Apollonia
Prince had a rather unique relationship with Patricia Apollonia Kotero during the filming of Purple Rain. As the story goes, Kotero saw Prince as somewhat of a “tyrant.” Prince even had her keep her real-life marriage a secret all because he wanted fans and viewers to believe that the two could be romantically involved. It was also rumored that Prince wanted her to eat only candy and drink only herbal tea all because he enjoyed those things. Royalty gets what royalty wants, we suppose, and it is not all that surprising that a brilliant artist such as Prince would be rather demanding.
5. Prince Was Sued by His Half-Sister
Prince‘s personal life had its ups and downs throughout the years, something that he spoke about in length during some interviews. One down occurred when his half-sister decided to sue the singer in the late 1980s. Lorna Nelson, the half-sister of Prince, claimed that she was responsible for the lyrics that became the song “U Got the Look.” A judge disagreed with Ms. Nelson, however, stating that “no substantial similarity existed between her lyrics and the lyrics of Prince’s song.” No offense meant to anybody, but we don’t believe that Prince had to steal anybody’s lyrics.
4. The Prince and Michael Jackson Connection
It has already been mentioned in this piece that Prince and Michael Jackson shared a stage. The two music icons were supposed to share more than that at one point. The idea, per KEarth.CBSLocal.com, was that the song “Bad” was originally going to be a duet featuring Prince and the “King of Pop.” Why didn’t this happen, you ask? The explanation that Prince gave in interviews is that Prince did not want either one of them opening a duet featuring the two performers with the line “Your butt is mine.” Just four words prevented what could have been the greatest duet in history
3. Prince was Loyal 1.0
Speak to somebody who has an association with the Minneapolis area, where Prince is from, and you may hear about how Prince was known to be loyal to those in the region. One example is that Prince reportedly had his CDs manufactured and packaged by a Minneapolis company. This included the CDs that were given to fans who attended shows on Prince’s Musicology Tour. It is always nice to hear and/or read about a famous celebrity who has made it remembering where he came from and giving back to locals. Prince did this on more than one occasion.
2. Prince was Loyal 2.0
Some may believe that there are only four “big” sports leagues in North America. Prince did not share that opinion. After the Minnesota Lynx won the WNBA championship in 2015, Prince decided to throw them a special celebration. According to Jon Bream of the Star Tribune, Prince, who watched the Lynx win the deciding game in person, hosted a three-hour party that included Prince playing some of his known hits. The party reportedly went well into the night, and Prince did not leave the stage until around 4 am. Players on the Minnesota Vikings have to believe that they missed out on an opportunity for a party of a lifetime. If only you would have been able to win a Super Bowl, Vikes.
1. Prince and Boozer
You’ll need the read the entire ESPN.com story to fully appreciate this. NBA star Carlos Boozer once rented his house to Prince, and Prince took it upon himself to redecorate Boozer’s place. This included Prince beautifying the front gate with his personal symbol, walls inside of the house being knocked down, and molding on top of the ceiling being changed. Boozer, per the ESPN.com piece, was unhappy upon seeing what Prince had done.
“Booz was like, ‘I was getting ready to go over there and beat this little man down.’ And dude was just like ‘Here, Boozer, here is a little check for about a million, it’ll take care of everything, get it back the way you want it.’ And Booz was like , ‘This little man is cool as hell.’”