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Prince

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One of music's most legendary performers, Prince continues to enthrall audiences with his ever-changing musical style and classic hits. Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Not surprisingly, he got started in the music business at a young age. While still in junior high, he teamed up with a friend and his cousin to form the band Grand Central, a primarily instrumental band that played clubs and parties in the Minneapolis area. Prince went from playing with the band, to arranging the ban's compositions to eventually becoming the band's front man. As Prince headed into high school, the band changed its name to Champagne and began playing original compositions reflecting influences that can still be heard in Prince's music today, such as Sly and the Family Stone, Parliament-Funkadelic and James Brown. In 1976, produced a demo tape that, when paired with a campaign promoting him as a star of the future, got him a contract with Warner Brothers. His first effort for the label, For You, was released on April 7, 1978. Wanting to have complete control over his work, Prince played all 26 instruments on the album, which sold modestly and made the bottom reaches of the Billboard 200. His first single, 'Soft and Wet' performed well on the R&B charts. His follow-up, 1979's Prince, featured the single 'I Wanna Be Your Lover,' which  hit number one on the R& B charts and number 11 on Billboard's Hot 100. Around this time, Prince was also working on the image he would maintain for the rest of his career. Wearing makeup and high heels, he flaunted his sexuality not only in his often racy lyrics, but his scandalous stage ensembles, such as the combination of bikini briefs, leg warmers, high-heeled boots, and a trench coat, which got him booed off the stage when he opened for the Rolling Stones in 1981. Prince's 1980 release Dirty Mind is best-known for its overtly sexual lyrics, which he showcased on a tour with Rick James that same year.  The singer scored his first international hit in 1981 with the title track off of his  fourth album, Controversy but Prince's career really took off when, as Prince and the Revolution, he released the album 1999 in 1983. The album sold over three million copies and scored smash hits with the title track and 'Little Red Corvette.' Prince then set out to take over Hollywood with the drama Purple Rain. The film, which co-starred Apollonia Kotero and Morris Day and the Time was a smashing success, earning over $100 million at the box office and winning an Oscar for Best Original Song Score. The accompanying album sold more than thirteen million copies in the US, spent twenty-four consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 and spawned three chart-topping singles, the title track, 'Let's Go Crazy' and 'When Doves Cry.' The album ranks at 72 in the top 100 of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list and is also listed in The All-TIME 100 Albums list in TIME Magazine. The mid-80s brought Prince some hits, such as 'Raspberry Beret' from Around the World in a Day and 'Kiss' from Parade and some misses, such as his 1986 film Under the Cherry Moon, co-starring Kristen Scott Thomas. Prince bounced back from the cinematic turkey with the 1987 double album Sign o' the Times, which brought Prince the greatest critical acclaim of his career, and topped a number of 'best of' lists, recognized by TIME Magazine as the best album of the 1980s. Throughout the decade, Prince also collaborated with a number of artists, including Vanity, Apollonia and Sheila E. He also wrote 'Sugar Walls' and sang the duet 'U Got the Look' with Scottish singer Sheena Easton and composed The Bangles' hit 'Manic Monday.' Prince's own recordings would be covered in hit versions by artists as diverse as Chaka Khan ('I Feel For You'), Art of Noise with Tom Jones ('Kiss'), and Sinéad O'Connor ('Nothing Compares 2 U.')  The singer scored another hit in 1989 with songs composed for the soundtrack of the blockbuster film Batman, but the next year, the sequel to Purple Rain, Grafitti Bridge, faltered at the box office. In the 90s, he debuted his new backing band, New Power Generation and scored his fifth number one hit with 'Cream' off the 1991 release Diamonds and Pearls. The next year, Prince released an album that was titled with an unpronounceable symbol and in 1993, while in a dispute with Warner Brothers, he also changed his stage name to the same symbol, which is a combination of the symbols for male and female. Because the symbol is unpronounceable, he was often referred to as 'Symbol,' 'The Artist Formerly Known as Prince/TAFKAP' or simply 'The Artist.' The albums he released as 'The Artist' in the 90s were not commercially successful and in 2000, he went back to being Prince. In April 2004, he released Musicology, his most commercially successful since Diamonds and Pearls. The disc received two Grammy wins, for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for 'Call My Name' and Best Traditional Vocal Performance for the title track and was also nominated for Best Song, Best R&B Album, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for 'Cinnamon Girl.' Grossing an estimated $87.4 million, the Musicology Tour was the most profitable tour in the music industry for 2004 and that same year, Pollstar named Prince the top concert draw among musicians in America. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and received a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for 'Song of the Heart,' written for the 2006 film Happy Feet. With a career spanning four decades and more music to come, there appear to be no end to Prince's 'Purple Reign'.

Prince

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