53 things you might not know about Prince

Categories: The Purple One
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A November 1984 issue of City Pages
Devoted Gimme Noise readers already know that we're big fans of Prince around these parts -- we even have an entire wing of our blog roped off for Purple One-related posts. So when we heard today is Prince's 53rd birthday, we jumped at the chance to geek out and compile a list of some lesser-known tidbits about our state's most iconic musician.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called Prince Rogers Nelson's Day of Birth. Here are 53 factoids to help you celebrate this glorious day. Release the doves and let's go crazy.

See Also: How to purify yourself before a Prince show at Paisley Park

1. In 1985, Prince owned a white T-bird and could often be seen driving it around North Minneapolis.

2. Prince's dad, John Nelson, led the "Prince Rogers" jazz trio, which eventually became John's nickname, and then Prince's official name.

3. Prince's mom's name is Mattie Shaw, and he says she's responsible for his "wild side."

4. Prince is the official pioneer of "the Minneapolis sound" heralded by music mags throughout the '80s.

5. Prince wrote "Nothing Compares 2 U" about bandmate Wendy Melvoin's sister Susannah Melvoin, a song that became famous when Sinead O'Connor covered it.

6. Prince was called "Skipper" when he was a little boy.

7. In a 1985 article in Rolling Stone, Prince says Bobby Z is his best friend, though he's "not a spectacular drummer." He says he keeps him on because Bobby's drumming is a reaction to what Prince does on stage.

8. When Prince's alias was the unpronounceable symbol, some staffers at Paisley Park just referred to him as "the dude."

9. At 13, he formed Grand Central, his first band, with some high school friends.

10. Because First Avenue doesn't have much for a backstage area, many of the scenes that take place offstage but inside the nightclub in Prince's feature film Purple Rain had to be filmed offsite. 

11. Prince intended Purple Rain to be darker.

12. Prince said he used to get physically ill from depression during the "Dirty Mind" era.

13. There were many early comparisons of Prince to Jimi Hendrix, and Prince told Rolling Stone in a cover story that's "only because he's black."

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Prince with Gayngs' Ryan Olson at First Avenue
14. Prince was spotted all over downtown Minneapolis nightclubs in 2009 but often would leave 10 minutes after he arrived. In 2010, he made several cameo appearances to catch shows at First Avenue, including almost joining Gayngs on stage during their album release show, but each time he would slip out of the club just as attendees were about to fly into a tizzy.

15. Prince is 5'2" tall.

16. Because of his status as a Jehovah's Witness, Prince refuses to swear in his songs or regularly sing those that championed sexual freedom (e.g. "Darling Nikki", "Little Red Corvette").

17. Aside from Sheila's E's first album, Prince's Paisley Park label did not produce any Billboard-charting hits outside Prince's own.

18. The vocals on gender-bending track "If I Was Your Girlfriend" from Sign O The Times are said to be that of Prince's female alter-ego, Camille.

19. Warner Brothers sought a return on their investment in Paisley Park, which led to some artists recording there against Prince's wishes.

20. Actress Kim Basinger in one of Prince's few non-brunette exes. They broke up in 1990.

21. NBA star Carlos Boozer was Prince's Los Angeles landlord in 2006 and he later sued The Purple one for painting his symbol on the house's exterior and installing monogrammed carpeting. 

22. The lawsuit was dismissed when Prince's lawyers alleged Boozer collected the $70K/month rent with no complaint.

23. Prince married Mayte Garcia in 1996 in Minneapolis. White doves were released after the ceremony. They divorced several years later and Mayte began dating Tommy Lee.

24. Prince and Mayte had a child, Boy Gregory, who, according to the Star Tribune, died a week after birth due to a rare skull defect.


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