50 lesser-known facts about Prince

Prince would have been 60 today, so to celebrate the cultural icon here are some little-known facts about the legend.

Did you know Prince played guitar on Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’? Well he did, and according to co-writer Patrick Leonard there was loads material the Purple One recorded for the song, but Madge and co. cut most of it!

Prince had no shortage of nicknames and aliases: across his career, he’s been known as The Kid, The Purple Purv, The Minneapolis Midget, Alexander Nevermind, Christopher Tracy and The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. His real name was Prince Rogers Nelson and when he was a kid he was known as Skipper.

You know you’ve made it when you have your very own Wikipedia spin-off site. Princepedia was created by fans a few years ago and remains a popular resource among Prince devotees.

‘Purple Rain’ was originally a whopping 11 minutes long. A verse and chorus were cut, apparently because the theme of money was deemed inappropriate. The original lyrics are as follows:

“Honey I don’t want your money, no, no.
I don’t even think I want your love.
If I wanted either one I would take your money and,
I want the heavy stuff.”

The week of July 27 1984, Prince topped both the film box office, single and albums charts, with his film ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘When Doves Cry’ respectively. Total dominance, that.

Prince wrote more songs than The Beatles, with a back catalogue that expands to over 600 tracks. In your face, McCartney.

If you were ever at a Prince gig, we hope you put your phone away – in January 2014, he sued 22 individual fans he believed had committed “massive infringement and bootlegging” by uploading footage of his sets to YouTube.

In fact, best not to mention any kind of social media at all around the guy. In 2010 he claimed “the internet is over,” explaining that “like MTV, at one time, MTV was hip, and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computer and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers, and that can’t be good for you.”

That said, he was on Twitter. We’d also totally recommend his Instagram, or as he superbly call it, “PRINCETAGRAM.”

Days before Prince was set to release ‘The Black Album’ in 1987, he scrapped the whole thing, claiming it as too “dark and immortal.” Later he claimed the change of heart was due to a “spiritual epiphany”, though press reported instead he’d been experimenting with ecstasy.

In 1989 Prince’s half-sister, Lorna Nelson, tried to sue the Purple One claiming she’d written the lyrics to the song ‘U Got The Look’ from his ninth studio album ‘Sign o’ the Times’. After a long drawn out court battle, the judge sided with Prince.

If you’re ever in Eden Pierie, Minneapolis, drop by Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse on First Avenue – that’s where Prince recorded most of his chart-toppers.

Prince once sent friend and collaborator Janelle Monae a “singing telegram” asking for a copy of new album ‘The Electric Lady’, who guested on the record.

Fans have been trying to work out the meaning of “purple rain” for decades now. Some believe it’s about the end of the world, a theme Prince was interested in mid-80s: “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple.. purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god” guide you through the purple rain.”

Prince’s first band formed when he was only just 13. The group was called Grand Central, and then Champagne, playing original music in the style of Sly & The Family Stone and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Another reason to love Prince – he dissed Maroon 5 for daring to cover ‘Kiss’ in 2012. “I do pay performance royalties on others’ songs I perform live, but I’m not recording these songs and putting them up for sale. Why do we need to hear another cover of a song someone else did? Art is about building a new foundation, not just laying something on top of what’s already there.”

Prince and Amy Winehouse almost collaborated. After Prince declared himself a fan, the Camden singer said she’d “drop everything to do that… I’d do it with bells on. All day long.”

In 2012, Prince was ordered to pay a perfume company $4 million, after failing to promote one of their fragrances. Revelations Perfume and Cosmetics sued the superstar back in 2008 after he reneged on a deal to promote a scent called 3121, named after his 2006 album.

Prince’s favourite meal? Why, Spaghetti and orange juice of course.

Prince used to write fan mail to Joni Mitchell, who says she once spotted the singer aged 15 in the front row at one of her concerts.

You’d never have found Prince at home listening to his old albums. “I make a statement, then move on to the next,” he told Rolling Stone.

Prince once paid a salon in Washington to close down, black out all the windows, and do his hair.

Because his staff at Paisley Park couldn’t pronounce the “Love Symbol” they called Prince “the dude” instead.

Prince once sought legal action against Adobe Photoshop CS6 to prevent fans doctoring photos of him. It didn’t pan out, unsurprisingly.

Prince wrote his first ever song aged 7. It was called ‘Funk Machine’. Naturally.

Prince is reported to have often stayed awake for days on end when in the studio working on early albums. No surprise, given his gigs often went on into the early hours.

Prince only contributed to the soundtrack of Tim Burton’s Batman film because he had a crush on star Kim Basinger. It worked – the pair dated for almost a year afterwards.

Prince originally wrote ‘Kiss’ for a band called Mazarati, Revolution members Mark Brown and Bobby Rivkin. He later backtracked, telling Brown and Rivkin, “It’s too good for you guys.” Too bad, fellas.