More About Princeb. Prince Rogers Nelson, 7 June 1958, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. A prodigiously talented singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Prince was named after the Prince Roger Trio, of whom his father, pianist John Nelson, was a member. After running away from his mother and stepfather he briefly joined up with John, who bought him his first guitar. He was later adopted by the Andersons, and became a close friend of Andre Anderson (later Andre Cymone). Prince was already conversant with piano and guitar and had written his own material from an early age. Together with Anderson he joined the latter's cousin, Charles Smith, in a junior high school band titled Grand Central. As Prince progressed to high school, Grand Central became Champagne, and he introduced original material into his sets for the first time. His musical development continued with the emergence of "Uptown", a musical underground scene that included Flyte Time, as well as other important influences including Jellybean Johnson, Terry Lewis and Alexander O'Neal. Prince's first demos were recorded in 1976 with Chris Moon, who gave him guidance in the operation of a music studio, and free reign to experiment at weekends. Moon also introduced him to backer Owen Husney, after which Prince provided interested parties with a superior-quality demo. Husney and his partner Levinson set about a massive "hyping" campaign, the results of which secured him a long-term, flexible contract with Warner Brothers Records after a great deal of scrambling amongst the majors.
Debuting with Prince For You, Prince sent shock waves through his new sponsors by spending double his entire advance on the production of a single album. It sold moderately (USA number 163), with the single "Soft And Wet" making a big impact in the R&B charts. The album's blend of deep funk and soul was merely an appetizer in comparison to his later exploits, but enough to reassure his label that their investment had been a solid one. By 1979 Prince had put together a firm band (his debut had been recorded almost exclusively by himself). This featured Cymone (bass), Gayle Chapman and Matt Fink (both keyboards), Bobby Z (drummer) and Dez Dickerson (guitar). Despite lavishing considerably less time and money on it than its predecessor, Prince nevertheless charted (USA number 22) and boasted two successful singles, "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover". A succession of live dates promoting the new album Dirty Mind saw Lisa Coleman replacing Chapman. The album was the first fully to embody Prince's sexual allure, and the phallic exhortations on his Fender Telecaster and explicit material such as "Head" appalled and enticed in equal proportions. Artists such as Rick James, whom Prince supported in 1980, were among those who mistrusted Prince's open, androgynous sexuality. Returning to Minneapolis after an aborted UK tour, Cymone departed for a solo career while former members of Flyte Time and others released a self-titled album under the band name the Time. It transpired later that their songs had been written by Prince, who was the motivation behind the entire project.
Prince was nothing if not prolific, and both Controversy and 1999 followed within 12 months. Controversy attempted to provide a rationale for the sexual machinations that dominated Dirty Mind, falling unhappily between the two stools of instinct and intellect. It was a paradox not entirely solved by 1999, a double album that had enough strong material to make up two sides of excellence but no more. The promotional tour featured a special revue troupe: Prince And The Revolution headlined above the Time and Vanity 6 (an all-girl Prince creation). The single "Little Red Corvette" was lifted from the album and was the first to gain significant airplay on MTV. The song was almost entirely constructed for this purpose, using a strong "white" metaphor as leverage. After internal disputes with the Time, Prince began work