|PRINCE - BIOGRAPHY||
Few artists have created a body of work as rich and varied as Prince. During the '80s, he emerged as one of the most singular talents of the rock & roll era, capable of seamlessly tying together pop, funk, folk, and rock. Not only did he release a series of groundbreaking albums, he toured frequently, produced albums and wrote songs for many other artists, and recorded hundreds of songs that still lie unreleased in his vaults. With each album he has released, Prince has shown remarkable stylistic growth and musical diversity, constantly experimenting with different sounds, textures, and genres. Occasionally, his music can be maddeningly inconsistent because of this eclecticism, but his experiments frequently succeed; no other contemporary artist can blend so many diverse styles into a cohesive whole.
Prince's first two albums were solid, if unremarkable, late '70s funk-pop. With 1980's Dirty Mind, he recorded his first masterpiece, a one-man tour de force of sex and music; it was hard funk, catchy Beatlesque melodies, sweet soul ballads, and rocking guitar-pop, all at once. The follow-up, Controversy, was more of the same, but 1999 was brilliant. The album was a monster hit, selling over three million copies, but it was nothing compared to 1984's Purple Rain.
Purple Rain made Prince a superstar; it eventually sold over ten million copies in the U.S. and spent twenty-four weeks at number one. Partially recorded with his touring band The Revolution, the record featured the most pop-oriented music he has ever made. Instead of continuing in this accessible direction, he veered off into the bizarre psycho-psychedelia of Around the World in a Day (1985), which nevertheless sold over two million copies. In 1986, he released the even-stranger Parade, which was in its own way was as ambitious and intricate as any art-rock of the '60s; however, no art-rock was ever grounded with a hit as brilliant as the spare funk of "Kiss."
By 1987, Prince's ambitions were growing by leaps and bounds, resulting in the sprawling masterpiece Sign O' the Times. Prince was set to release the hard funk of The Black Album by the end of the year, yet he withdrew it just before its release, deciding it was too dark and immoral. Instead, he released the confused Lovesexy in 1988, which was a commercial disaster. With the soundtrack to 1989's Batman he returned to the top of the charts, even if the album was essentially a recap of everything he had done before. The following year he released Graffiti Bridge, the sequel to Purple Rain, which turned out to be a considerable commercial disappointment.
In 1991, Prince formed The New Power Generation, the most versatile and talented best band he has ever assembled. With their first album, Diamonds and Pearls, Prince reasserted his mastery of contemporary R&B; it was his biggest hit since 1985. The following year, he released his twelfth album, which was titled with a cryptic symbol; in 1993, Prince legally changed his name to the symbol. In 1994, he independently released "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" single, which became his biggest hit in years. Late in the summer of 1994, he released Come under the name of Prince; the record was a moderate success, going gold.
After Come, Prince agreed to release The Black Album officially in November of 1994. In early 1995, he immersed himself in another legal battle with Warner, as the record company refused to release his new record, The Gold Experience. By the end of the summer, the disputes had been resolved and the album was released in the fall. In the summer of 1996, Prince released Chaos & Disorder, which reportedly was his last album of original material for Warner Brothers Records. Setting up his own label, NPG, he resurfaced later that same year with the three-disc Emancipation; Crystal Ball, a long-awaited mult-disc collection of unreleased material, followed in 1998. A year later, with "1999" predictably an end-of-the-milennium anthem, he issued the remix collection 1999 (The New Master).