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For You: Let’s Take A Moment To Appreciate Prince

This post was written on April 18, prior to Prince’s death. We will miss you Prince.

When TMZ announced on Friday that Prince‘s aeroplane had made an emergency landing so the singer could be rushed to hospital, my heart stopped. Thankfully, His Purpleness was just fine and even made a public appearance to reassure his fans and make sure they didn’t “waste their prayers.”

But the scare got me thinking, I’ve been a Prince fan ever since my mum bought me a bashed up copy of Purple Rain on VHS from a charity shop when I was 13. She had been a fan since the 80s and wanted to pass on her love, and boy did it get passed on. I watched that tape so much that it wore out and for my 14th birthday my dad got me the ultimate gift – tickets for Prince’s upcoming 21 night residency in London’s O2 arena.

I ended up going to two of the ’21 nights’ stint, then seeing him a few years later at Hop Farm Festival and most recently at London’s Roundhouse last year. I may be slightly obsessed.

tumblr_n801444fK11te26u9o1_250(gif via allprinceallthetime/tumblr)

It’s safe to say I’m a big fan. But it always amazes me how little people know about Prince. In the 80s he was at the same level as Michael Jackson and Madonna on the pop star spectrum, but he’s mainly known these days as ‘that guy who changed his name to a symbol’. For example, did you know that Sinead O’Connor‘s mega hit Nothing Compares 2 U was written by, and originally performed by Prince? Or that Prince has won an Oscar?

Well fret not, because below is a comprehensive history on The Purple One from his 1978 debut album For You, to his honestly incredible Instagram account.

1970s: Basketball, demos and debuts

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Prince Rogers Nelson grew up in Minnesota, Minneapolis, where he still live to this day. And yes, his name really is Prince, when asked about it his dad said “I named my son Prince because I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do.”

Prince loved music from a young age and was heavily inspired by funk and soul. He released his debut album, For You, through Warner Bros in 1978 aged 19. Along with providing all vocals, Prince also produced and played every single instrument on the album. The album included dreamy teenage heartbreak songs such “So Blue” and “My Love Is Forever”, but also hinted towards a darker side with “Soft and Wet”. A complex star was born.

Lyrics that defined the decade:

“You’re just as soft as a lion tamed / You’re just as wet as the evening rain / How will I take it when you call my name?” 

– “Soft and Wet” For You

1980s: Sex appeal, Purple Rain and androgyny

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0c58635a0408ee024087b54c18237550(Photo: Warner Bros)

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The 80s were undoubtedly the peak Prince era. Throughout the decade he released a string of now-classic, sexually charged albums (Dirty Mind, Controversy, 1999, Purple Rain, Parade, Sign O’ The Times). Prince was young, talented and one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. Despite his miniature stature – he’s only 5’2″ – he managed to command a stage like no other, with performances involving him passionately making out with women and humping speakers, not to mention his ejaculating guitar.

Prince Masturbate Guitar(Gif via allprinceallthetime/tumblr)

The 1980s also saw the rise of Prince’s film career. Purple Rain, a film set on Prince’s life, won an Oscar at the 1985 Academy Awards and although his following films Graffiti Bridge and Under The Cherry Moon didn’t receive the same commercial success as Purple Rain, they achieved cult status amongst his fans.

Lyrics that defined the decade:

“I knew a girl named Nikki / I guess you could say she was a sex fiend / I met her in a hotel lobby / Masturbating with a magazine / She said how’d you like to waste some time / And I could not resist when I saw little Nikki grind”

– “Darling Nikki” Purple Rain

1990s: Zen master, slave, the love symbol

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Prince calmed down his image in the 90s. The decade started with the singer growing out his hair and starring/writing/directing Graffiti Bridge, the sequel to Purple Rain.

Although he may have toned down the overt sexuality in his style, he remained an animal on stage.

In 1993, amidst a public copyright war with Warner Bros, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, later dubbed “The Love Symbol #2″. At the time the singer went by the (almost as unpronounceable) moniker ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’.

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Lyrics that defined the decade:

“Money don’t matter tonight / It sure didn’t matter yesterday / Just when you think you’ve got more than enough / That’s when it all up and flies away / That’s when you find out that you’re better off / Making sure your soul’s alright”

“Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” Diamonds and Pearls

2000s: Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, Superbowl, 21 Nights in London

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The first half of the new century was quiet for Prince. After dropping the symbol and returning to his birth name in 2000, he quietly churned out album after album that seemingly got lost in the ether. The emotional and sensual guitar tracks that he was famed for had been replaced with a more experimental sound and image.

Then, 2007 happened and the The Purple One was reborn. He performed at the Superbowl and despite the torrential rain, his performance is now widely thought of as the best Superbowl half time show of all time. When the show’s organisers warned him of the rain Prince simply replied, “can you make it rain harder?”

Later that year Prince headlined 21 sold out nights at London’s O2 arena, and bizarrely, gave away free copies of his new album Planet Earth with the Daily Mail. The residency was a huge success and Prince happily embraced both his old and new catalogue, however his growing religious commitment meant he stayed away from his more sexually explicit songs.

Lyrics that defined the decade:

“When you found me I was just a piece of clay / I was formless, you gave me a new name / With the breath of life I now live abundantly / All I needed was the potter’s hand”

-”Beautiful, Loved and Blessed” 3121

2010s: Secret shows, Tidal, Instagram

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Which brings us to today, where Prince has managed to both firmly envelope himself in 21st century life and also return to his roots. The floaty, tranquil tunes from the beginning of the millennium were chucked in favour of heavy guitar based, sexy tracks. He also grew back his afro, which we haven’t seen since he first started out in the 70s.

He guest starred in his fave tv show New Girl, he joined forces with Jay-Z and agreed to only have his music available through Tidal, and probably most importantly, the ultimate sass king joined Instagram. @PRINCESTAGRAM (yes that is really what his handle is, no I can hardly contain myself either) is the perfect outlet for Prince to share with us his questionably edited selfies and some incredible #Throwbacks as well.

After dropping his 37th (!) studio album Art Official Age with his all female touring band 3rdeyegirl, Prince returned to London to play a number of surprise gigs in tiny venues including £6 ticketed shows at Koko and The Electric Ballroom.

Lyrics that defined the decade:

“She said if I don’t ever get to kiss you / I’m really gonna make a scene / I said damn you just want me to be / Another rip in your jeans / That’s when she ordered strawberries, chocolate and whipped cream / My guitar turned up / And this woman screamed”

-”HARDROCKLOVER” Hit n Run Phase One

n_a(Gif via tinypic)



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