Music

16 Things You Didn’t Know About Prince

It’s really too bad he never starred as woman in a movie about his female alter-ego “Camille.”

1. He Wrote His First Song When He Was Only 7

It was called “Funk Machine,” obviously. (Sadly, this is not a photo of Prince as a child.)

2. He Danced With James Brown When He Was 10

“My stepdad put me on stage with him and I danced a bit until the bodyguard took me off,” Prince told MTV in 1985. He would later dance with Brown – and Michael Jackson! – in this astonishing footage from a concert at the Beverly Theatre in Los Angeles in 1983. B.B. King was also on stage!

3. He Was Once So Poor That He’d Go To McDonald’s Just To Smell The Food

“I didn’t have any money, so I’d just stand outside McDonalds and smell stuff,” he told Rolling Stone in 1985, recalling his early years as a musician.

4. He Refused To Be Produced By Earth, Wind And Fire

A 19-year-old Prince rejected a deal with CBS when they insisted that Verdine White from Earth, Wind and Fire produce his first three albums. After he signed to Warner Bros., he was pushed to work with White’s brother and bandmate Maurice, but refused that collaboration as well.

5. He Played Everything On The Time’s Debut Album

Prince assembled The Time in 1981 to make the most of a clause in his contract with Warners Bros. that allowed him to recruit and produce other artists for the label. Despite the fact he put the band through rigorous rehearsals, he would end up recording every single instrumental part on their self-titled debut. The only member of the group who can be heard on the record is singer Morris Day, who was forced to closely mimic Prince’s delivery, and in many cases is overshadowed by his backing vocals.

6. He Wanted Vanity To Be Known As “Vagina”

Prince also ghostwrote and produced a record for Vanity 6, a trio fronted by Denise Matthews, a woman he was dating in the early Eighties. He wanted her to go by the stage name Vagina – pronounced “va-geena” – but she refused, and went with Vanity instead. The group was called Vanity 6 because among the three members, there were six breasts.

7. Michael Jackson’s “Bad” Was Supposed To Be A Duet With Prince

Michael Jackson wrote “Bad” with the intention of singing it as a duet with Prince, and wanted to hype up a rivalry between the two of them in the press before releasing the single. Prince was not comfortable with the lyrics of the song, and objected to the song’s opening line, “Your butt is mine.” “Who’s singing that to whom?” Prince asked at the time, “because you sure aren’t singing that to me.”

8. He Almost Gave “Kiss” Away

Prince contributed “Kiss” to Mazarati, a band featuring Revolution bassist Mark Brown and Bobby Rivkin, during the Parade sessions. The original version was an acoustic blues number, but Rivkin and Brown added a funky backing track. When Prince heard it again, he changed his mind and took it back, telling them, “It’s too good for you guys.” He stripped out most of what they added but kept elements of their rhythm. Rivkin was eventually credited as the song’s arranger, but neither was given a writing or production credit.

9. This Woman Inspired Many Of His Best Songs

Prince was deeply in love with Susannah Melvoin, the twin sister of Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin, through much of the mid-’80s. His tortured romance with her, complicated largely by his philandering, was the basis for some of his best ballads, including “The Beautiful Ones,” “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and “Forever In My Life.” When they broke up for good, Prince recorded a song called “Wally,” in which he confided his most intense thoughts about Melvoin to his bodyguard and dancer Wally Safford. That song has only been heard by Prince’s engineer Susan Rogers and was deleted immediately after it was first recorded, but was recorded a second time for posterity.

10. He Scrapped His Final Record With The Revolution

Prince spent most of 1986 recording a double album tentatively titled Dream Factory with The Revolution, but ended up breaking up the band and shelving the project. Many of the songs were included on his next album, Sign O The Times, but other tracks either turned up on on future albums like Crystal Ball or were left to circulate as bootleg recordings.

11. He Intended To Release An Entire Album As A Woman

Prince developed a feminine alter ego known as Camille while working on Sign O The Times. He used the persona on the single “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” and achieved the effect by slowing down the tape as he sang in his normal register, and then speeding the tape up in playback. He reportedly recorded an entire album as Camille, but eventually scrapped it along with plans to film a movie about the character in which he’d play himself as well as appear in drag as Camille.

12. He Thought “The Black Album” Was Evil

Prince insisted that The Black Album, his heavy funk follow-up to Sign O The Times, be recalled and cancelled a week before its release date in 1987 because he reportedly became convinced that the record was a work of the devil. He explained this decision rather obliquely in the Lovesexy tour program. Writing as Camille, he explained that the record was designed to “silence his critics,” but he eventually realized that he had allowed “the dark side of him to create something evil.” The Black Album was heavily bootlegged and was eventually released in 1994.

13. He Did The “Batman” Soundtrack Because He Had A Crush On Kim Basinger

Tim Burton had originally planned for the Batman soundtrack to be split between Prince and Michael Jackson, with the former providing funk tracks and the latter singing ballads. Prince ended up recording an entire album’s worth of material after meeting and falling for lead actress Kim Basinger. He cancelled a Japanese tour to get to work on the material in an attempt to impress her. Shortly after the soundtrack was released, he produced an album called A Hollywood Affair featuring Basinger, but the record was scrapped, mainly because she wasn’t a very good singer.

14. He Met His First Wife Via Videotape

Mayte Garcia’s mother, a die-hard Prince fan, insisted that her daughter send videotapes of her belly dance routine to Prince when she was only a teenager. The two met when she was 16, and Prince would later say that he fell in love with her on first sight. He began a long-distance courtship with Garcia with the hope of seducing her by the time she turned 18. They wrote letters to one another regularly, and he would give her tapes of new music, and she would send him videos of her dancing to it. She eventually moved to Minneapolis and became a dancer for his Diamonds and Pearls tour.

15. He Nearly Lost His Paisley Park Studio Due To Overspending

Prince’s revenue stream was diminishing by the mid-’90s due to a series of flop records, but he had increased his spending to a ridiculous extent. He kept the Paisley Park complex running and fully staffed 24 hours a day and spent $500,000 per year keeping a studio ready in Los Angeles on the chance that he’d be in town and want to record on a whim. Paisley Park had a full-time catering team, a staff of 10 tailors on hand to create bespoke clothing for Prince and his musicians, and a film crew to shoot videos that would never be released. As a result of this and other poor business decisions, he came close to losing the entire business.

16. He Wanted Kevin Smith To Direct A “Rainbow Children” Movie

Kevin Smith contacted Prince with the hope of using his song “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but the singer declined. He did, however, try to convince Smith to film a movie that would include footage of Prince and his band performing material from The Rainbow Children and overtly Christian messages spelled out on screen, such as “Jesus Christ is the son of God.” Smith filmed hours of footage at Paisley Park, but dropped out when he realized that the project was intended to be a recruitment film for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

If there is no source link, the information was found via Jason Draper’s meticulously researched book Prince: Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution.

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