The Artist, formerly known as Prince, is one of the most flamboyant, mysterious, and progressive musicians of the late twentieth century. He is a world-class performer, singer, dancer, composer, producer, director, actor, and sex symbol. By the age of 14 Prince had taught himself to play the drums, piano, and guitar. Over 12 albums and three movies later, Prince has eroticized dance-pop music and remained a mystery to his fans by submitting to few interviews.
His first album produced the hits "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and the oft-covered "When You Were Mine." Upon the release of his second album, he went on tour with a racially and sexually mixed band composed of many of his childhood friends. A consummate performer, he often stripped down to his bikini briefs and ended sets with a dozen push-ups. The potent pixie of Funk produced the hits "1999" and "Little Red Corvette" by the mid-1980s and became one of the first black artists featured on MTV.
Prince rose to super-super stardom in 1984 with "Purple Rain," an allegedly autobiographical story of the Minneapolis club scene. He took home two Grammy Awards in 1985 for "I Feel For You," and received a best original score Oscar for "Purple Rain." Following these successes he opened his own studio and record label, Paisley Park. His second film, "Under the Cherry Moon," bombed in 1986 and, while "The Black Album" was not commercial success, it became the most popular bootlegged LP prior to its release in 1994. The loss of revenue didn't bother Prince too much, though, as he was locked in a fight with his label, Warner Brothers.
In 1993 Prince found himself the victim of global ridicule after changing his name to a glyph that combined the symbols for male and female. The unpronounceable character led to the name/title, "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince." The change in name allowed him to get out of his contract with Warner, however. As a further attack on the label, the Artist (as he has finally come to be named) has vowed to re-record his entire library to deny the company royalties.