53 things you might not know about Prince

Categories: The Purple One
Prince III-250.jpg
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."

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.

My Voice Nation Help

The G.O.A.T.! Prince is the Greatest Of All Time!

Happy Birthday and thank you for all the great, superior, and unbelievable music of a lifetime! Listening to Scandalous on VH1Soul they are playing Prince vids!!!


#44 - Prince not only played guitar on Madonna's "Like A Prayer" but also sang a duet with her on the same album. "Love Song"



Scott Lawrence
Scott Lawrence

I knew most of these....some of them i said..."huh....."


Computer blue and the fathers's song are the same it's just slowed down so that';s two for wendy and lisa


Wendy and Lisa's only songwriting contribution to any Prince album was "Computer Blue."

That's completely and utterly untrue. Anyone with ears to hear knows that's not true. It may be the only song they are credited for. If that's true then it's a terrible injustice. Around the World in a Day and Parade have Wendy+Lisa's sound ALL OVER IT. Sign O' The Times, the first album without them, sounds completely different.


If he's a Jehovah's witness he doesn't cellabrate his birthday. His music swell though...


unfortunately the real Prince writer left this building long, long ago....


#47 would be New York City if #48 is true. 


I knew every one of those except 45 and 47. Good job!!!

Anna O
Anna O

This just made my day. 


Happy Birthday Prince! I love you!


Hmm Sounds like someone didn't do enough fact checking.


"A Love Bizarre" from Sheila E's second album was on the Paisley Park label. And "Jerk Out" by The Time in 1990 was a #1 R&B hit, from the Pandemonium album, released on Paisley Park/WB.


Hmm. Not sure about #16. Prince performed both "Darling Nikki" & "Little Red Corvette" at shows I saw in May!


Not to be nitpicky (I'm going to be nitpicky), but #17 is all wrong. Sheila's first album wasn't on Paisley Park. They mistakenly claim it was the only non-Prince hit on the Paisley Park label, then later mention "Tevin Campbell's hit single" Round & Round, which was on Graffiti Bridge - a Paisley Park album. Also, #40 is far from accurate...take a look at the liner notes for the "Around the World in a Day" and "Parade" albums, for instance.


Correction: John L. Nelson's jazz trio was called the "Prince Rogers" trio, not the Prince Nelson trio.


Happy Birthday Prince!!!


"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."  You forgot to mention Prince gave the song to "The Family" which featured Susannah, St.Paul Peterson, Eric Leeds Jelly Bean, and Jerome.  Their version is excellent and the 1st to be recorded (I believe)



he also played guitar on "keep it together" and "guitar and produced" act of contrition


@vlttog His father actually wrote "father's song" Wendy and Lisa's contribution was probably just the monologue at the beginning.

Jen Boyles
Jen Boyles

I have sources for all of these so email me and let me know which you disagree with. We sort of knew when we did this that many Prince fans would come by to let us know we're wrong:  webmaster@citypages.com    Overall, this is just meant as a way to appreciate our local rock icon on his birthday.

Also, feel free to add to the list.



Top 40 Hits written by prince for others

Stevie Nicks "Stand Back" (1983) #5 US

Chaka Khan "I Feel For You" (1984)#3 US #1 UK (yr end charts '85 #5 in us)

Sheila E. "The Glamorous life" (1984) #7 US

The Time "The Bird" (1984) #36US

The Time "Jungle love" (1985) #20 US

Sheena Easton "Sugar walls" (1985) #9 US

Sheila E. "The Belle Of St Mark" (1985) #34 US #18 UK

Bangles "Manic Monday" (1986) #2 US (behind "Kiss, at #1), #2 UK

Sheila E. "A Love Bizarre" (1986) #11 US

Art Of Noise featuring Tom Jones "Kiss" (1988) #5 UK

Simple minds "sign o the times" (1989) #18 UK

Elisa Fiorillo "On the way up" (1990) #27 US

Sinead O'Connor "Nothing Compares 2 U" (1990) #1 US #1 UK (#1 in yr end     charts in us and #2 in uk)(#1 in 21 countries)

Kid Creole & The Coconuts "The Sex Of It" (1990) #29 UK

MC Hammer "Pray" (1990) #2 US #8 UK (sampled)

The Time "Jerk Out" (1991) #9 US

Tevin Campbell "Round and Round" (1991) #11 US

Martika "Love... Thy Will Be Done" (1991) #10 US #9 UK

Martika "Martika's Kitchen " (1991) #17 UK

Monie Love "Born 2 B.R.E.E.D." (1993) #18 UK

Monie Love "In A Word Or 2 / The Power" (1993) #33 UK

New Power Generation "Get Wild" (1995) #19 UK

MoKenStef "He's Mine" (1995) #7 US (sampled "Do Me Baby")

New Power Generation "The Good " (1995) #29 UK

New Power Generation "The Good" (1997) #15 UK (reissue)

Ginuwine "When Doves Cry " (1997) #10 UK

Jordan knight "I could never take the place of your man" (1999) #37 US

Alicia Keys "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore" (2002) #26 UK

Jay-Z featuring Beyonce "03 Bonnie & Clyde" (2003) #4 US #2 UK (sampled)

Inaya Day "Nasty Girl" (2005) #9 UK

Top 40 R&B Hits only written by Prince

"Meli'sa Morgan" "Do me baby" #1

"TLC "get it up" #14(also #42 on H100)

"Apollonia 6 "Sex Shooter" #19

“Tevin campbell” #8 “shhh(break it down)”

"Sheila E "Sister Fate" #36

"Sheila E "Koo Koo" #35

"The Family "The Screams Of Passion" #9

"The Family "High Fashion" #34

"Patti Labelle "Yo Mister" #6

"Madhouse "6" #5

"Mazarati "100 MPH" #19

"Mavis Staples "Melody Cool" #36

"The Time "Get It Up" #6

"The Time "Cool" #7

"The Time "777-9311" #2

"The Time "The Walk" #24

"The Time "Ice Cream Castles" #11

"Vanity 6 "Nasty Girl" #7

"Andre Cymone "The Dance Electric" #10

Other contibutions

prince songs on top selling albums

Stevie wonder “whats the fuss” (on guitar) #19 UK 2005

Madonna "Like a prayer"( on guitar ) #1 US 1989

Madonna "keep it together"(on guitar ) #8 US 1990

madonna “act of contrition” on guitar and produced and love song

celine dione album celine dione “ with this tear”

cyndi lauper “when u were mine”( on her best selling album)

mariah carrie(beautiful ones) album Butterfly.

nodoubt album rocksteady song “waiting room”

mc hammer best selling album “soft and wet”

TLC best selling album crazy sexy cool  “if i was ur GF

paula abdul album spellbound song “you”

tupac best selling album”all eyez on me” “whats ur #’ sampled  also on 4 songs

Little Red
Little Red

The article says that he does not sing these songs regularly. Not that he doesn't sing them at all. You probably were lucky enough to go to the right concert place and day.


I've also cn some vids where he's sung those songs! I think over the last cupl yrs of touring the world he's done some things that would be a lil outside his chosen spiritual group but then he's always like on My Name Is Prince-"I've got 2 sides & they're both friends" lol I 4 1 thinks is fun! side note-born 1958- so just turned 54 but omg he's still got it all!! Ty

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