Black Cool | Prince

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Happy Birthday to the architect of the Minneapolis Sound, Prince Rogers Nelson lovingly known as simply, Prince. One of my favorite artists turns 55 today.

Over his four decade career, this member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as Oscar and Grammy award winning singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor has produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles. He has written several hundred songs and produces and records his own music for his own music label. In addition, he has promoted the careers of Sheila E., Carmen Electra, the Time and Vanity 6 and his songs have been recorded by these artists and others, including Chaka Khan, The Bangles, SinĂ©ad O’Connor, and Kim Basinger.

Plus, he happens to be one of the funkiest men on the planet Earth. He also holds the special distinction of being one of the two artists that I had the great pleasure of seeing perform live six times in concert (Luther Vandross, is the other). While I respected Michael Jackson’s music, I revered Prince’s musicianship and his constant ability to recreate his style and music especially during his golden era between 1979 – 1987. To this generation, he simply represents COOL in a way that his idol, Miles Davis did for him a generation earlier.

Do you know what it takes to be great? Just take a look at the artists that inspired His Purple Badness: Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament-Funkadelic, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, the Isley Brothers, Todd Rundgren, Duke Ellington, Curtis Mayfield, and Stevie Wonder. The fascinating thing is that if you listen to his canon of music, you can hear each of the abovementioned inspirations weaved through his music.

Prince has been writing music and songs for close to 40 years beginning with debut album, For You, in 1978. His 1979 album, Prince, went platinum due to the success of the singles “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. His next three records, Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and 1999 (1982) continued his success, showcasing Prince’s trademark of prominently sexual lyrics and incorporation of elements of funk, dance and rock music. In 1984, he began referring to his backup band as the Revolution and released the album Purple Rain, which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name.

After releasing the albums Around the World in a Day (1985) and Parade (1986), The Revolution disbanded and Prince released the critically acclaimed double album Sign “O” the Times (1987) as a solo artist. He released three more solo albums before debuting the New Power Generation band in 1991. After changing his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol, also known as the “Love Symbol”, in 1993, he began releasing new albums at a faster pace to remove himself from contractual obligations to Warner Bros; he released five records between 1994 and 1996 before signing to Arista Records in 1998. In 2000, he began referring to himself as “Prince” once again. He has released thirteen albums since then, including his latest, 20Ten, released in 2010.

While his music may not rule the charts as it did during his heyday, his influence and legend continues to expand as he has transitioned to elder statesman of the funk and wonderful reminder of SUPER fun days of my rebellious youth!!!