Over a 30-year music career, Prince has has won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. He’s sold 100 million albums, starred in three movies, and written dozens of songs for other artists. But he’s also known for his eccentricity. For example…
Keeping a Music Vault
The guitarist reportedly has a vault filled with dozens of unreleased albums, films, and music videos. Fans have long speculated about it, but Prince won’t reveal the vault’s contents.
Over time, though, several items have been identified by his collaborators or in press releases for projects that were later nixed. Among them: Dream Factory, a double album recorded in 1986 with his backup band, the Revolution; a children’s album called Happy Tears recorded in the mid-90s; and an album called Camille with all of Prince’s vocals sped-up to make him sound like a woman.
Brawling with Sinead O’Connor
O’Connor had a smash hit in 1991 with “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a song Prince wrote and produced in 1984 for the Family, a funk band he managed. When their record flopped, Prince planned to remake the song with a female singer…until O’Connor recorded it. Prince invited O’Connor to his Los Angeles home to discuss the controversy. Instead, O’Connor told an interviewer, he criticized her for using foul language in front of reporters. She fired back, and the argument led to blows. According to O’Connor, the pint-sized singer (he’s 5’2″) was no match for her, although she did admit that “he can pack a punch.”
Being a Bad Tenant
In the mid-2000s, Prince leased the Hollywood home of NBA star Carlos Boozer for a staggering $70,000 a month. Despite the high rent, Boozer was enraged when he discovered that the pop star had redecorated the $11.9 million mansion. He’d had the “Prince symbol” and purple stripes painted on the exterior, added the symbol to the front gates, dyed the water in an outdoor pond purple, and installed a hair salon and a monogrammed carpet in the master bedroom. Boozer tried to sue, but when Prince handed over a check for $1 million to cover the cost of removing his alterations, the lawsuit was dismissed.
Opening for the Rolling Stones
Prince’s first big shot at stardom came when he opened for the Rolling Stones on their “American Tour 1981.” Rather than tone down his racy live act, the relatively unknown musician did the exact opposite. He went out on stage each night wearing just a trench coat and a pair of bikini briefs. The Stones’ fans didn’t know what to make of it. At the Los Angeles Coliseum, Prince was pelted with garbage. At another gig, he was booed off stage after only two songs.
The Prince vs. The King
The only male pop star bigger than Prince in the ’80s was Michael Jackson. That could explain why Prince engaged in a bitter—and one-sided—rivalry with the King of Pop. In 1986 the stars met at a Los Angeles studio, where Prince was working on audio for his film Under the Cherry Moon, and Jackson was working on his Disneyland movie Captain EO. Jackson started flirting with Prince’s girlfriend, Sherilyn Fenn, so Prince challenged him to a game of ping-pong in front of their respective entourages. Jackson lightly hit the ball, until Prince egged him on, taunting, “Come on Michael, get into it! You want me to slam it?” according to Prince’s drummer Bobby Z’s account. As Prince moved to hit the ball, Jackson raised his hands to cover his face…and Prince hit the ball as hard as he could, right into Jackson’s crotch. Declaring himself the victor, Prince pranced around, shouting, “Did you see that? He played like Helen Keller!” Jackson apparently held no ill will: A year later, when Jackson was recording Bad, the follow-up to his monster hit Thriller, he asked Prince to sing a duet with him on the proposed first single, “I’m Bad.” But when Quincy Jones played a demo for Prince, the singer balked at the first line, “Your butt is mine.” Meant to sound threatening, Prince thought it sounded too much like a come-on. “Now who’s gonna sing that to who?” he reportedly said to Jones. “’Cause you sure ain’t singing it to me. And I sure ain’t singing it to you.” Jackson recorded the song alone, and it was a #1 hit.