Written by Phin Upham
Born in Minneapolis in 1958, Prince Rogers Nelson was named after the trio band that his father performed with. He wrote his first song at age seven and got his first taste of recording in his cousin’s band 94 East. By the time he hit his teens, he was signed by Warner Bros, but little is known about his early life.
In an interview for PBS, Prince recounted that he was born an epileptic and suffered from seizures as a child. His parents separated when he was ten years old, which forced the young boy to relocate almost yearly.
Prince is notoriously protective of his music, and is considered by many who work with him to be a perfectionist. When he signed his contract, he agreed to three albums for Warner. The primary condition was that he would retain ownership, publishing rights and creative control over the music.
His debut album, For You, was followed up by a self titled album and Dirty Mind. The music Prince created caused controversy due to its focus on sex. By the time he composed the soundtrack of the 1989 film Batman, he was already well on his way to success internationally.
Prince adopted an unpronounceable glyph as his name for a period in the 90s, where he was often referred to as “the artist formally known as Prince.” He sunk into relative obscurity for a number of years before he performed with Beyonce Knowles at the 2004 Grammy Awards ceremony. He has released two albums since then, which won him honors from the Grammys and the Golden Globes.