I think the country collectively lost their shit when the Prince tour was announced a few weeks ago (plumbers resigned in protest). Gracing our shores for the first time since 2003, Australians across all generations assembled their crews and set their alarms bright and early to secure their chance at witnessing The Revolution firsthand. As expected, tickets sold out within minutes as more shows were announced. The frenzy sent Facebook newsfeeds across the nation into a purple sea of triumphs and sore disappointments. Fortunately I was one of the lucky ones and have been in a permanent state of paisley ever since. Now the time has almost come…by the end of this week I will have seen Prince perform with my own eyes, the feeling of which is causing me to cream like a dairy farm. In the lead-up to his sold-out shows, I put my detective/stalker skills to use to try and find out more about the man behind the music.
Born on June 7th, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to musician parents, Prince Rogers Nelson was destined for stardom. That’s right, Prince is his REAL name. Having an impressive career spanning almost 40 years with well over 20 studio albums, including 10 platinum and 30 top 40 singles in tow, Prince is well and truly one of the greatest performers of our time. But Wikipedia could have told you that shit. I am here to shed some light on the more obscure facts surrounding the Purple Prince.
So why the colour Purple? Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with Oprah, but is a homage to his hometown football team, The Minnesota Vikings, who sport the same team colour as our fair Prince. Purple has been a running theme throughout his career, and even inspired Paisley Park Studios – more popularly known as Prince Mecca. This is where the magic happens. Used as the primary location for his recordings, music videos and tour rehearsals, every room at Paisley Park is wired for sound – so if Prince decides to record a song on the can, Prince can do so, because that’s how a real Prince rolls yo!
Speaking of purple, arguably his most famous work, Purple Rain, has become a staple for music lovers worldwide. Churning out number one hits such as: Let’s Go Crazy, Purple Rain and the over-punned When Doves Cry, even Prince haters understand the cultural significance of this wondrous soundtrack. You heard correctly – soundtrack. What most people tend to forget is that Purple Rain is the supporting soundtrack for the Academy Award-winning film with the same name. In a lot of ways Purple Rain set the bar for a culture of film where the music trumps the actual story. But none have achieved the same level of success as Prince’s masterpiece. I can’t say I’ve come across any other soundtrack whose victory has near obliterated the memory of the film. If you get the opportunity before his show, I highly recommend watching the birth of The Revolution in Purple Rain. But NEVER watch its ill-fated sequel, Graffiti Bridge, unless you want to feel irrationally angry and scream “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS” at the TV. Over his prolific career, Prince has produced 5 soundtracks. Worth particular mention are: Parade: Music from the Motion Picture ‘Under the Cherry Moon’, responsible for one of his most renowned hits, Kiss; and of course the 1989 version of Batman. To me, Batdance is 80s pop perfection.
Another overlooked piece of Prince trivia is that many of his songs have been recorded by other artists, including Chaka Kahn and musical talent Kim Basinger *sarcasm alert*. Almost like an alternative Dolly Parton to Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, Prince wrote Sinead O’ Connor’s most acclaimed hit, Nothing Compares 2U. He is also responsible for Manic Monday made famous by The Bangles. However, his involvement in fostering Carmen Electra’s singing career somehow rains on his purple parade.
Now what Prince piece would be complete without the controversial name change of 1993. Sticking it to the man aka Warner Bros, Prince changed his name to the unpronounceable Love Symbol O(+>, which combined both male and female sex emblems. Over the next three years, the artist formally known as Prince struggled with the big bad Warner to release him from their chokehold. He finally succeeded in 1996 with the release of mammoth nineteenth studio album, Emancipation, spanning over three discs. One of his more self-indulgent releases, Emancipation yielded hits such as Betcha by Golly Wow! and Somebody’s Somebody.
With the Warner fiasco settled, the last decade saw Prince drop the Love Symbol, and in a strange twist of faith convert to Jehovah’s Witness – marking the end to his rumoured ‘self gratifying’ days. Although, to be honest, I never believed that particular story – if it was really possible for men to surgically remove their ribs for self-head, wouldn’t it be more widespread? Kind of like the male boob job? Back to Jesus, in a show of commitment to his new beliefs, Prince jumped head first into the Jehovah’s way by participating in door-to-door preaching. Now IMAGINE if Prince rocked up at your house! I’ve always said that I would never convert for any man, but I’m not going to lie…If Prince ever showed up on my front doorstep in guy-liner and stacked heels, looking at me like I was the most beautiful girl in the world, I would change my name to Jehovah in a heart beat.
More recently, Prince approached screenwriter, actor and producer Kevin Smith (Silent Bob) to produce a documentary surrounding his latest album 20Ten, which celebrates his religious beliefs. Prince pitched it as a vision to change the world, destined for Cannes Film Festival. More inclined to dick and fart movies, even Smith thought he was a random choice for the job, but you don’t just say no to Prince! Despite his initial reservations, he spent a week at Paisely Park filming fan reactions to the record, followed by religious conversations led by Prince. However, in an unexpected twist, the documentary never reached the light of day. By the end of filming, Smith was informed by an intermediary that sometimes Prince likes to make films for his personal vault without ever intending to release them. To ease Smith’s understandable bewilderment, Prince’s personal producer consoled him with the knowledge that Prince has produced hundreds of large scale video clips that have never seen the light of day. I guess this is what it sounds like when hipster doves ugly cry. I highly recommend watching Smith recount the story, not only is it hilarious, but it sheds some interesting light on the eccentricities of Prince. I guess it’s true what they say – musical genius is inversely proportional to crazy, which makes me hope Prince brings all his crazy down under, it will no doubt make for one hell of a show. LET’S GO CRAZY!