.:: Biography ::.

Last Updated: 02/16/2005


NAME: Prince, O(+>, TAFKAP, The Artist formely known as Prince, The Artist
REAL NAME: Prince Roger Nelson (later Prince Rogers Nelson)

Prince Roger Nelson was named after the jazz band his parents were in at the time, The Prince Rogers Trio. Prince's father, John L. Nelson (1916 - 8/25/2001) married iun 1956 his second wife, jazz singer Mattie Shaw (1934 - 2/15/2002, remarried in 1968 to Hayward Baker). Nelson played piano and Shaw was the vocalist. Unfortunately, they divorced in 1965.

NICK NAME: Skipper
PSEUDO NAMES: Tora Tora, Joey Coco, Alexander Nevermind, Camille, Christopher, Jamie Starr (The Starr Company), Paisley Park, PRN, Slave
in 1993 from Prince to O(+> (on June, 7 1993)

"A couple of years ago perhaps, I had a spiritual rebirth I was lacking direction for a long time. But I saw a light which I realizied I had to follow. At that point I became O(+>. It isn´t pronounced. It just is. I got a whole new mindset when I became the symbol. I can´t explain how I feel now compared to then. I don´t want to destroy the mystique by revealing everything. And if people come to see me just to hear "Purple rain" then I´m sorry. I´m playing these O(+> songs now. I´ll play Prince songs occasionally. I just want people to understand who I am..." [Prince]

NOTE: On May 16, 2000 Prince announced that he would resume using his former name, because his final
contract with Time Warner (i.e., his publishing contract with Warner-Chappel) had expired. Since 2000
his name is PRINCE again.

You find more informations about SYMBOLISM in our section [MENU 3: BOOKS - Where the O(+> comes from]

OCCUPATION: Multi-musician, singer, songwriter, producer, dancer, actor...
DATE/PLACE OF BIRTH: June 7, 1958 in Mount Sinai Hospital, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
SIGN: Sun in Gemini, Moon in Pisces
HEIGHT: Rumoured 'bout 5 feet 2 inches (157 cm)
EDUCATION: High school (Schools: John Hay Elementary School (1965), Bryant Junior High School (1970), Central High School (1972), North High School (1973), Central High (1973-76) - all located in MPLS)
RELIGION: Prince has never professed to following a certain religion, but he's a very spiritual person and U can find many Bible related lyrix in his songs (like "The holy river", "God", "The cross", "In2 the light") or in the main theme of albums like "Lovesexy" (1988) or "The Rainbow Children" (2001).
Due to his collaboration and friendship with Larry Graham (of Grand Central Station), who IS a Jehova's Witness and could be called a spiritual mentor, the reading / influence of the New World Edition [the Jehovah's Witness translation] of the Bible (read the lyrics of the album "The Rainbow Children"!) and the still unconfirmed marriage 'in a Jehovah's Witness ceremony' let the rumour came up, that Prince became also a Jehova's Witness. Well, there's still no official acknowledgment and so it's his personal decision and privacy.
During the Emancipation interviews in 1997, he was said to by studying Eastern religions, such as Bhuddism.
1st MARRIAGE / DIVORCE: With Mayte Jannell Garcia (born November 12, 1973) on Wednesday, February 14, 1996, at 3:00 p.m. (CST) at the Park Avenue United Methodist Church, MPLS/USA by Reverend Keith Johnson.

Officially divorced "annulled" in May 2000.

2nd MARRIAGE (rumour): The latest rumour - so far unconfirmed: Prince and Manuela Testolini (born September 19, 1976 in Toronto/Ontario, Canada) got married "in Jehovah's Witness ceremony" (?) on New Years Eve (12/31/2001) in Hawaii. Manuela ("Mani") is/was an employee of Paisley Park. Representatives for Prince originally denied that the musician married Testolini, and now the two aren't commenting on the rumored marriage.

Mani T. also appears at the end of the music video "Come On" (from "New Power Soul", 1998 by The NPG) and was likely the inspiration for the song, "She Loves Me 4 Me" (from "The Rainbow Children", 2001).

Prince and Mani

FAMILY/PARENTS: Father: John L. Nelson (1916-2001); mother: Mattie Shaw (1934-2002); sister: Tika Evene 'Tyka' Nelson (born 1960), one half-brother, two step-siblings and four half step-siblings
KIDS: one son, born prematurely October 16, 1996; died October 23, 1996
CAREER: Christened Prince Rogers Nelson after jazz band leader father who used stage name Prince Rogers, Prince was fronting band, called first Grand Central then Champagne, at high school dances when only 12 years old. Prince and Champagne´s bass player André Cymone wrote bulk of group´s material over five year period and when Champagne split, Prince when into studios to cut demos showcasing his material but trip to New York failed to yield record deal. Undeterred, he cut further songs and took tape to Warner Bros. in Los Angeles, securing long term contract. A powerful catalyst for the Minneapolis music scene, Prince was quick to develop his charisma and individual flamboyant dress style, together with an extensive entourage which included the funky group The Time, headed by Champagne´s one-time drummer Morris Day, and girlie group Vanity 6, later replaced by Apollonia 6. Switch of management to high-powererd Steve Fargnoli (who previously took Little Feat into big time) helped propel Prince´s career into major league. The debut album "For you", which he wrote, produced, arranged and on which he sang and played all 27 instruments led to string of often outrageous LPs and eventually to semibiographical movie "Purple rain" which showcased hit single "When doves cry". Album of movie showed signes of broadening of musical appeal, movement continued in 1985 set "Around the world in a day" - sixties/psychodelic influence now apparent, reflecting in Sergeant Pepper-ish album sleeve. Continuing to pursue celluloid ambitions, Prince then directed and starred in "Under the cherry moon", one of most critically lambasted productions of all time. On music front, however, he further extended his horizons with 1987 double set "Sign ´O´ the times", which pleased critics and went on to achieve double platinum status. Flamboyant yet enigmatic, Prince is truly star of eighties, broad base of capabilities enables him to retain full control of career. Likewise, he has acted as eminence grise to handful of ancilliary acts; as well as those mentioned above, he was and is important influence on producer Jimmy Jam, luscious songstress Sheila E. and several others. Genuine talent and charisma ensure long shelf-life for diminutive maestro.

He´s a prolific songwriter for many other artists like Sinead O´Connor, The Bangles, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Martika. Prince wrote, produced and released albums under his band name "The New Power Generation", collaborated with Madonna, Sheena Easton and George Clinton and formed/produced band projects like The Time, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, The Family, Madhouse and solo artists like Sheila E., Jill Jones, Carmen Electra or Tevin Campbell. Prince also got hundreds of unreleased songs recorded at his own Paisley Park Studios (opened in 1987).

Some ´classic´ masterpieces (see also ALBUM DISCOGRAPHY):

  • "Prince" (1980)
  • "1999" (1982)
  • "Purple rain" (1984)
  • "Sign O´ the times" (1987)
  • "Batman" (1989)
  • "Diamonds and pearls" (1991)
  • "The gold experience" (1995)
  • "Emancipation" (1996)
  • "Rave un2 the joy fantastic" (1999)

    After the split from his longtime record company, Warner Bros.,
    O(+> made a first step into alternate ways of releasing music indepentantly (by ordering through the Internet or via a telephone line) without a major company. In 1996 he released a triple CD-Set "Emancipation" (EMI/NPG Records) - followed by "Crystal Ball" (Multi CD box with outtakes plus the acoustic album "The Truth" and the orchestral suite "Kamasutra" and also in 1998 his 24 (!) album "Newpower soul" (under the name "The New Power Generation"). The latest release is
    "Rave un2 the joy fantastic" (CD, 1999).

  • GOLD + PLATINUM AWARDS: Please check out the search / database of RIAA - The Recording Industry Association of America!
    HIS RECORDING STUDIO: Paisley Park Studios; 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassan, MN, Minnesota 55317, USA, Phone: (612) 474-8555 Fax: (612) 474-6328; official website PAISLEY PARK STUDIOS.
    Take a look inside.


    His songwriting abilities were always recognised, but few realised at the time how innovative an arranger and producer he was. "When Doves Cry" (from Purple Rain) and "Kiss" (from Parad) don't have basslines, and while it's commonplace today to hear weird noises used as drums, Prince's production was almost avant garde.

    Prince always had phenomenal drummers in his bands - from Bobby Z. over Sheila E. to Michael Bland. In the last years Kirk Johnson (Kirky J.) played an important role in drum programming (like it or not, on The NPG's New Power Soul or Emancipation).

    Before the Sign O' the times album (1987) no-one had ever used a synthesizer and Linn-Drum Computer to the perfection that Prince did on tracks like "If I Was Your Girlfriend" or "The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker".

    Some fans hoped for a return to the sound and style he had in the 80's with a promise for the use of his old instruments (ie. the linn drum) with the album Rave un2 the joy fantastic in 1999. If you like to read more about Prince as musician, composer and arranger check out the following article from UPTOWN MAGAZINE (www.uptown.se):

  • UPTOWN No. 45/Article "I ain't like the rest - Prince as Songwriter, Musician, and Musical Pioneer" (11/2000)

    Here's a sample:

    "Out of the three elements of music - melody, harmony, and rhythm - there is no question that Prince has been most experimental and idiosyncratic in his approach to rhythm. His '80s drum machine work (the rhythmic patterns and sounds) was truly groundbreaking and innovative. The rhythmic ingredients and "1999" are breathtaking, contributing greatly to overall impact of the songs. In the '90s, by contrast, Prince often employed more conventional-sounding live drumming on his albums.

    He also began relying on programmers to provide him with drum machine beats, rhythmic textures, and sequenced bass lines. Eric Anest (also known as Statik or Airiq Anest) was used in this fashion in the early '90s until Kirk Johnson took over. Anest's work, as heard on some tracks on the symbol album and Come, is often unorthodox and interesting. Anest has said that he prefers "off-beat sounds" over traditional R&B drums, and listens primarily to avant-garde electronic music for inspiration. In contrast, Johnson's work (on Emancipation, Newpower Soul, and parts of Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic) has been widely criticized as unoriginal. Many fans have argued that Johnson's approach (which unquestionably is dictated largely by Prince himself) emulates bland R&B sounds instead of continuing in the bold, cutting edge vein of Prince's earlier drum machine work.

    The lack of originality and experimentalism in the rhythmic elements of Prince's more recent music sadly reinforces the impression of him as a trend follower rather than a leader. Perhaps Prince has realized this, as a few tracks on Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic saw a return of the Linn drum machine he had employed on many of his most exciting recordings of the '80s."

    © 2000 by UPTOWN

    Synch, organ, real drums, Roland, DMX, Linn LM-1, Fairlight? - Here U find further information, linx
    to a couple of articles (album reviews) and sources 4 misc samples:

    Linn LM-1 drum machine

  • Official webpages:

    Please check out our section: [MENU 1: LINX]

    IN A WORD OR 2:

    "A brilliant musician, charismatic performer and bizarre personality, the artist who´d rather you didn´t call him Prince has, remarkably, transfixed the pop music world for almost twenty years. Not since The Beatles has an artist´s music so gracefully crossed the boundaries..." [Star Bios]

    "In the ritzy, glitzy circus of eighties pop, Prince Rogers Nelson stands alone - a prodigious and eccentric talent who has carved out his own erotic empire of sound and imagery. Where others follow, he leads, a law unto himself, a delirious Amadeus of the video age, spawning legions of imitators, building up a loyal family of protégés in his home town of Minneapolis, he is at once the most exciting and most secretive of today´s superstars..."
    [from Prince "Impf of the perverse", 1988)

    "He said he met his mirror image in me... I was a narcissistic as he was..." [Vanity]

    "He wants to communicate, but he doesn´t want you to get too close." [William Blinn]

    "I was his smile when he didn´t want to be - I was a balance for him." [Wendy]

    "I work a lot - I´m trying to get a lot of things done so I can stop for a while. Everyone´s afraid I´m gonna die!" [Prince]

    "I make music because if I didn´t I´d die.I record because it´s in my blood. I hear sounds all the time. It´s almost like a curse 2 know U can always make something new." [Prince]




    With each album he has released, Prince has shown remarkable stylistic growth and musical diversity, constantly experimenting with different sounds, textures and genres - from R&B, soul, funk, pop, rock or orchestral side projects (like Kamasutra, 1997/98)!

    His popularity, personality quirks, and public persona have led many to dismiss the self-described "skinny motherfucker with the high voice" as just a less-successful Michael Jackson, which misses the point. By any other name, the man born Prince Rogers Nelson is a consummate musician, one of the best singers, guitarists and bassists in music today. Plus he has a rich musical vocabulary and manic thirst for new sounds, which keep him from being stuck in one bag (or even four or five). And he's an intelligent lyricist and makes the sexiest records I've ever heard.

    Prince, with his Bee Gee-esque falsetto* voice, could be the best indication of the next direction of Black music in the post-disco age. Listen to Prince's falsetto note in the harmonies, he's a master of vocal harmony and he has an amazing vocal range (as in, how high and how low you can sing) - the exact vocal range is not known!

    With his superb falsetto he's standing in the best tradition of singers such as Marvin Gaye, Al Green, The Isley Brothers, early Michael Jackson or the Bee Gees - typical 70s! Prince often use electronic sound effects and vocal effects mixed with his own multi-layered voice up to exquisite falsetto singing. Listen to the follwoing songs, which showcased the singer's remarkable vocal range and delicate vocal delivery - not only his musical ability but his studio mastery:

    • "For you" (from For you, 1978)

    • "I wanna be your lover" (from Prince, 1979)

    • "Kiss" (from Parade, 1986)

    • "If I was your girlfriend" (from Sign O' the times, 1987)

    • "When 2 R in love" (from Lovesexy, 1988)

    • "I love U in me" (B-Side from 1989, The Hits/The B-Sides, 1993)

    • "She Spoke 2 Me" (from Girl 6 (OST), 1996)

    • "I love U but I don´t trust U anymore" (from Rave un2 the joy fantastic, 1999)


      *Falsetto: a style of male singing in which, by only partial use of the vocal cords, the voice reaches the pitch of a female voice.

      Taken from Enjoy the music.com Classic's Music Definition::

      "In the opera world, human voices come in six basic varieties, from highest to lowest: soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass. Women and children are sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, and contraltos; most men are tenors, baritones, and basses."