Prince Rogers Nelson was born, in Minneapolis, Minnesota,. His father was a pianist and songwriter and his mother was a jazz singer. Prince was named after his father, whose stage name was Prince Rogers, and who performed with a jazz group called the Prince Rogers Trio.
Prince's childhood nickname was "Skipper." He wrote his first tune, "Funk Machine" on his father's piano when he was seven.
Prince pioneered the "Minneapolis sound," a hybrid mixture of funk, rock, pop, R&B and New Wave. Prince has so far produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career, to date. Prince founded his own recording studio and label; writing, self-producing and playing most, or all, of the instruments on his recordings.
Prince has been a "talent promoter" for the careers of Sheila E., Carmen Electra, The Time and Vanity 6, and has written songs for these artists and others including Chaka Khan, The Bangles, and Sinéad O'Connor.
Prince played piano and guitar for the band. Grand Central later changed its name to Champagne and started playing original music. Prince also played basketball in high school.
In 1976, Prince created a demo tape with producer Chris Moon in Moon's Minneapolis studio. Unable to secure a recording contract, Moon brought the tape to Minneapolis businessman Owen Husney.
Husney signed Prince, at the age of 17, to a management contract and helped Prince create a demo recording at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis, drawing interest from several record companies. Prince signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. who agreed to give Prince creative control for three albums and ownership of the publishing rights.
Prince then left Minneapolis and moved to Sausalito, California where Prince's first album, For You, was recorded at Record Plant Studios, and released in 1978.
In 1975, Pepe Willie, the husband of Prince's cousin, Shauntel, formed the band 94 East and hired Andre Cymone and Prince to record tracks with 94 East. Prince contributed guitar tracks. Prince also co-wrote, with Willie, the 94 East song, "Just Another Sucker." The band recorded tracks which later became the album Minneapolis Genius – The Historic 1977 Recordings.
Prince released the album For You in April 1978. According to the For You album notes, Prince produced, arranged, composed and played all 27 instruments on the recording.
In October 1979, Prince released a self-titled album, Prince, which was #4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Black Albums charts, and #22 on the Billboard 200, going platinum. It contained two R&B hits: "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover." "I Wanna Be Your Lover" sold over a million copies, and reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 for two weeks on the Hot Soul Singles chart.
n 1980 Prince released the album, Dirty Mind, which he recorded in his own studio. The album was certified gold and the attendant single "Uptown" reached #5 on the Billboard Dance chart and #5 on the Hot Soul Singles charts. Dirty Mind contained sexually explicit material, including the title song, "Head," and the song "Sister."
In October 1981, Prince released the album, Controversy. In 1981, Prince formed a side project band called The Time. The band released four albums between 1981 and 1990, with Prince writing and performing most of the instrumentation and backing vocals, with lead vocals by Morris Day.
In late 1982, Prince released the double album, 1999, which sold over three million copies. The title track became his first top ten hit in countries outside the U.S. The song "Delirious" also placed in the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
During this period Prince referred to his band as The Revolution. Prince's 1984 album Purple Rain sold more than thirteen million copies in the U.S. and spent twenty-four consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The film of the same name won an Academy Award and grossed more than $80 million in the U.S.
He has been known under the unpronounceable symbol, which he used between 1993 and 2000. During that period he was frequently referred to in the media as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," often abbreviated to "TAFKAP," or simply "The Artist."
Rolling Stone has ranked Prince #27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.