Coming into the music scene in the mid-1970s, it wasn’t long before Prince was recognized as one of the most gifted musical innovators of his generation. With his eccentric stage presence, ridiculous guitar skills, and unique falsetto vocals, he captivated his audience.
But there are some facts about Prince that aren’t entirely common knowledge, including the meaning behind his signature purple color. You’ll have to keep reading to learn everything and see some amazing photos along the way.
He Had A Willy Wonka-Inspired Concert
The film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is about kids worldwide looking for golden tickets to get into the famous candy factory. Well, Prince took a page out of the candyman’s book.
In 2006, 14 purple tickets were hidden in Prince’s album 3121. The seven United States fans and seven international fans who were lucky enough to find the tickets were invited to a private show at Prince’s Los Angeles residence.
Prince Hated His Name
Growing up, Prince Rogers Nelson wasn’t exactly fond of his name. Instead of the unique name, he wanted everyone to call him Skipper, a name his mother called him.
According to Prince’s mom, the name was “because he was small in size and he was just really cute — he was a darling baby.” The cute nickname stuck with Prince throughout his childhood. Once he started to record music, though, he went back to his given name.
Originally, Stevie Nicks Was Asked To Write “Purple Rain”
The song “Purple Rain” is one of Prince’s most popular. But originally, he asked someone else to write it, Stevie Nicks. In the end, the song was too much for Nicks to handle, and Prince wound up writing the lyrics.
According to Nicks, “[The song] was so overwhelming, that 10-minute track… I listened to it & just got scared. I called him back and said, I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.”
His Iconic Symbol Has A Name
In 1993, Prince changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol. The whole world began calling him “The Artist Formally Known As Prince” or just “The Artist.” Little did they know that the strange symbol did have a name, “Love Symbol #2.”
He kept the symbol for a few years, switching back to his original birth name at midnight on December 31, 1999, when his contract with Warner Bros. expired.
He Was Very Athletic
While Prince is clearly known for his musical abilities, he actually had many other hidden talents. Growing up, he was quite the athlete. At Minneapolis’s Bryant Junior High and Central High School, Prince played baseball, football, and basketball, even though he was on the shorter side.
He was even known to play some b-ball as an adult. There’s even a Dave Chappelle skit depicting the singer in his signature purple suit playing the game!
His Signature Heels Were More Than A Fashion Statement
Looking at pictures, it might not look as though Prince was a shorter man. But he was! The musician stood at a solid five feet two inches. To compensate for his smaller stature, he opted to wear tall heels most of the time, especially on stage during performances.
His signature piano was even modified with shorter legs so he’d be able to reach the pedals sitting down without any trouble.
It Rained While He Sang “Purple Rain”
In 2007, Prince performed in the Pepsi Halftime Show during Super Bowl XLI. It’s widely considered the best halftime performance ever. Seen by 140 million viewers, Prince took the stage, and right when he began singing “Purple Rain,” the skies opened up, and a downpour began.
The musician literally couldn’t have made the performance anymore memorable. It was almost as if the storm was waiting for him to begin singing his iconic song.
Lyrics Flowed From Him
Throughout his career, Prince wrote, produced, and released 39 studio albums. While not every song is created equal, that’s still a lot of music! And the fact that he was able to do this while writing music for other artists, starring in films, and creating movie soundtracks is a marvel.
Amazingly, his backlog contains well over 600 more songs that were never released. That’s more than The Beatles! Lyrics just poured out of Prince’s head.
Music Was In His Blood
On June 7, 1958, Prince was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to pianist and songwriter John Lewis Nelson and jazz singer Mattie Della. His cousin was even jazz drummer Louis Hayes.
Needless to say, he was born into a stellar musical family. Growing up to be one of the greats was in his blood. From a young age, Prince showed a keen interest in music, something that was encouraged by his father.
He Wrote Songs For Many Well-Known Artists
Prince is very well-known for his multiple albums, particularly his sixth studio album, the 1984 record Purple Rain. But recording his own music was only one of the musician’s many talents. Prince actually penned multiple songs for big-name artists.
Some of his work includes “Stand Back” for Stevie Nicks, “How Come You Don’t Call Me” for Alicia Keys, “Love Song” for Madonna, and “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinead O’Connor.
A Master Of At Least 27 Instruments
Prince was a master of at least 27 different instruments, a true musical prodigy. On his debut album, 1978’s For You, each instrument is actually being played by Prince.
According to the album’s notes, he played everything from the Arp string ensemble and acoustic piano to the mini-Moog, poly-Moog, and Fuzz bass, water drums, and slapstick. And that’s not even including the fact that he wrote and sang all of the music!
George Lucas Asked Prince To Play At His Wedding
Prince was a very popular musician throughout his entire career, with his fan base reaching both the general populace and celebrity A-listers. One such A-lister happened to be the creator of the Star Wars franchise, George Lucas.
In 2013, Lucas asked Prince to play at his wedding to Mellody Hobson, which took place at Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch. The musician agreed and wound up playing a small concert at their wedding reception.
The Week Of July 27, 1984, Was Huge
It’s no secret that throughout his career, Prince had more than one hit single. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, after all. Even so, nothing compares to the week of July 27, 1984.
That week, he secured the number one spot for an album, a film, and a single. His film Purple Rain was number one in the box office while the movie’s soundtrack was the number one best-seller, and “When Doves Cry” topped the charts.
His 1990 Film Wasn’t Good
The 1990 film Graffiti Bridge got a lot of hype, as it was the sequel to the widely successful and popular movie Purple Rain. Well, it didn’t do well at all and wound up being both a critical and commercial failure.
It even earned five Golden Raspberry Award nominations, including Worst Picture, Worst New Star, Worst Director, Worst Actor, and Worst Screenplay. The last three awards are all under Prince’s name.
New Girl Was An All-time Favorite Of His
When it came to television, Prince was a huge fan of the sitcom New Girl. Apparently, he was very invested in Jess and Nick’s relationship. So much so that he asked his manager to get in touch with Zooey Deschanel to see if he could guest star on the show!
According to Deschanel, “It was a highlight of my whole life. It was amazing just to get to hang out with him…He was such a pro…A good actor and very kind of chill all the time. Such a cool guy.”
The Black Album Was Recalled
On December 8, 1987, Prince had what he called a “spiritual epiphany” that had him declaring his infamous Black Album evil. After the epiphany, he set out and recalled it, only leaving several American copies and around 100 European copies in circulation.
In 1994, Warner Bros. legally released the album in its entirety. Even so, the recall wound up making The Black Album one of the most legendary bootlegged albums in history.
Tipper Gore Didn’t Appreciate Purple Rain
Prince’s music isn’t for everyone and, apparently, that includes Tipper Gore. After purchasing Purple Rain for her 11-year-old daughter, the future First Lady wasn’t exactly thrilled with Prince’s explicit lyrics, particularly in the song “Darling Nikki.”
As a result, she founded the Parents Music Resource Center. The organization put pressure on the music industry to adopt the “Parental Advisory” label, something that went into effect on select albums on November 1, 1985.
The Real Reason He Worked On Batman
When Tim Burton came to Prince asking him to make a few tracks for his upcoming live-action Batman film, the musician put all of his other projects on hold. He then went to the studio and produced a nine-track album to go along with the 1989 movie.
The reason Prince jumped at the opportunity, though, was because he had a crush on Kim Basinger, the film’s female lead! They dated for about a year.
Pantone Color Institute Made Prince’s Signature Purple
In August 2017, Pantone Color Institute did something big — they made a signature purple color in honor of Prince. Inspired by the musician’s purple piano, the color was aptly named “Love Symbol #2,” a nod to the period in which Prince used a symbol as his stage name.
Troy Carter, an advisor to Prince’s estate, spoke of the color, saying, “The color purple was synonymous with who Prince was and will always be.”
A Golden Globe For Best Original Song
Prince won many awards throughout his career. But only one award was won for his work on an animated film. In 2006, Prince worked on the animated penguin film Happy Feet, writing and producing the song “The Song of the Heart” for the movie’s soundtrack.
The following year, 2007, the song ended up winning a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It was also nominated for a Best Song Written for Visual Media Grammy.