Category: prince

Prince photographed by Robert Whitman, 1977.


The book The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star chronicles Nikki Sixx’s life 1986-1987. During this period

Denise “Vanity” Matthews

was Nikki’s girlfriend, and often mentioned in his diaries. In 1987, they were briefly engaged. It was a toxic relationship, they enabled each others’ drug abuse.

On meeting Vanity, Nikki says he was doing cocaine and watching MTV with a pal, pointing out girls he’d like to get to know better, when he spotted Vanity on screen. A call to the


office and he tracked down her phone number—common dating procedure for Sixx. She invited him over. When she “opened the door naked, with her eyes going around in her head,” he had “a feeling that we just might hit it off.”

Diary entry from January 1987:

Vanity came and went during different periods of my addiction. She was a wild black chick who had sung with Prince: she’d also been his lover for a while. At the time I thought of Vanity as a disposable human being, like a used needle. Once its purpose was fulfilled it was ready for the trash, only to be dug up if you were really desperate…We became drug buddies: sometimes, you could even just about call us boyfriend and girlfriend. Vanity also taught me how to really freebase: the first time I based was with Tommy when Mötley just started and only a few times after that. So up until then, I’d been mostly snorting or injecting. But as soon as she showed me the real ins and outs of cooking up a good rock…it was love. 

Not her. The drug.

On this day in music history: December 1, 1987 – “The Black Album” by Prince is withdrawn from release. Written and produced by Prince, it is recorded at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN and Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA from Early 1986 – Late 1987. Recorded in response to critics who feel his music has become “too pop oriented”, Prince comes forth with an album that features stripped down funk jams, tempered with often darkly humorous and profane lyrics. It is to be released with no title, text, or graphics on the front or back of the plain black cover (with only the catalog number printed on the spine). Originally scheduled for release on December 7, 1987, the eight track album (coming just nine months after “Sign ‘O’ The Times”) is pulled from release at the very last minute, after the artist has requested that it be rush released. Warner Bros Records ends up destroying several hundred thousand copies of the album before it can be shipped to record stores. However, enough copies survive (most originating from WEA’s West German pressing plant and advance promo cassettes to label personnel and the music press) becoming one of the most heavily bootlegged albums of all time. Prince never publicly gives a reason for the withdrawal, but it has been rumored that he felt the record was “evil” or that he had experienced a bad trip after taking the drug Ecstasy. He goes as far as to insert a subtle message into the music video for “Alphabet St.”, stating “don’t buy The Black Album, I’m sorry.”. Prince allows it be officially released on a limited basis on November 22, 1994. The album is then pulled from the marketplace on January 27, 1995. The vinyl LP version scheduled for reissue by Warner Music Group in December of 2016, is abruptly cancelled (along with several other Prince albums) and at the present time, no new release date has been given. In December of 2017, original US vinyl LP copies of “The Black Album” surface. Former Warner Bros Records executive Jeff Gold, discovers five sealed copies of the LP in his closet at home. Still in the original cardboard LP mailers, and manufactured at WEA’s Specialty Records Corp. pressing plant in Olyphant, PA, Gold finds the still factory sealed albums tucked away in a box. The copies go up for auction through Record, with three of them selling for $15,000 a piece, matching the price of one sold on Discogs in April of 2016. The last of Gold’s five copies sells for a record breaking $42,298 in 2018. In August of 2018, what is believed to be the only surviving Canadian pressed copy of the album is found. Rescued from destruction by an employee at the CBS pressing plant in Toronto, it sells at auction for $27,500 on the Discogs website. “The Black Album” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number forty seven on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 1, 1979 – “I Wanna Be Your Lover” by Prince hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #11 on the Hot 100 on January 26, 1980. Written and produced by Prince, it is the first chart topping single for the multi-talented Minneapolis born musician. Following his modestly successful debut album “For You”, Prince returns to the studio in the Spring of 1979 to record his sophomore release. Recording at Alpha Studios in Burbank, CA and Hollywood Sound in Hollywood, CA in April of 1979 (final overdubs and mixing in May and June 1979), Prince plays all of the instruments and performs all of the vocals, completing the project in just six weeks. Issued as the first single from his self-titled second album on August 24, 1979, “Lover” quickly becomes a break out hit on club dance floors and crossover to R&B then pop radio airplay. The single firmly establishes Prince as a commercially viable artist, laying the groundwork for his mainstream pop success in the 80’s and beyond. Two music videos are shot for “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. The more common and widely seen clip features Prince by himself, singing the song and playing guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. The second and rarer version not broadcast at the time, features the musician with his original band line up, including Andre Cymone (bass), Bobby Z. (drums), Dez Dickerson (guitar) and Gayle Chapman (keyboards). The success of the single leads to Prince making his first television appearance on The Midnight Special, and his only appearance on American Bandstand in January of 1980. During the latter show, the notoriously shy musician gives awkward responses when replying to host Dick Clark’s questions, leading to him not appearing on television again until performing on Saturday Night Live in February of 1981. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Denise “Vanity” Matthews photographed

by Deborah Feingold, 1985.

On this day in music history: November 23, 1983 – “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” / “Irresistible Bitch” by Prince is released. Written and produced by Prince, it is the fourteenth single release by singer, songwriter and musician from Minneapolis, MN. With his favorite songwriting topics revolving around the sacred and the profane, Prince again combines the two in “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”. Like the highly provocative “Head” from “Dirty Mind”, he seduces a young would be bride into a sexual encounter, with the twist being they end up married. With “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”, he suggests to a woman, to do the intimate that things married people do, without going through with the nuptials. The chorus gets right to the point with ending with the lyric “oh, let’s pretend we’re married and go all night”. Also giving the carnal workout an almost sing-a-long quality with the secondary hook “Ooh-eee-sha-sha-koo-koo-yeah, All the hippies sing together”. It is recorded during a highly prolific period for Prince, not only recording the “1999” album, but also The Time’s “What Time Is It?” and Vanity 6’s self-titled release. The basic track for “Married” is recorded on March 30, 1982 at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA. Clocking in at nearly seven and a half minutes, “Married” is initially released on the “1999” album. When it is cut in half and released as the fourth and final US single, thirteen months later. It contains an added surprise for fans on its B-side. Known for putting non-album tracks on the flip sides of his singles, Prince continues the tradition during the 80’s and beyond. “Married” is backed with funky “Irresistible Bitch”, written and originally recorded during sessions for the “Controversy” album in 1981, Prince re-records it. It is cut over three sessions at Sunset Sound in Hollywood on September 15, 16 and 18, 1983, with the musician playing all of the instruments himself. Prince sings nearly all of the vocals, except for the detached, laconic backing vocals by Lisa and Wendy. Lyrically, he takes a different approach on the song, speaking of being unable to resist a woman, though she plays with his emotions and is unable to remain faithful to him. “Irresistible Bitch” becomes a hit in clubs, even making its way on to some R&B radio stations in spite of its salacious title. Many stations make their own edits, excising the word “bitch”, by either bleeping it out, or cleverly editing in the word “irresistible” a second time. It makes its CD debut on the compilation “The Hits/The B-Sides” in 1993. Though “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” is only a minor hit (#55 R&B, #52 Pop) in early 1984, it becomes a fan favorite. It is also later covered by Tina Turner, with a live recording of the song appearing on the B-side of “Show Some Respect” in 1985, the expanded CD reissue of “Private Dancer” in 2015.

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On this day in music history: November 9, 1991 – “Cream” by Prince & The New Power Generation hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written and produced by Prince, it is the fifth US number one pop single for the Minneapolis born artist. Issued as the second single from “Diamonds And Pearls” in early September of 1991, Prince later claims he wrote the song while standing in front of a mirror. The track is recorded at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN circa late 1990 – early 1991 with New Power Generation members Michael B. (drums), Sonny T. (bass), Levi Seacer, Jr. (rhythm guitar), Tommy Barbarella (keyboards), and Rosie Gaines (vocals and keyboards). Interestingly enough, the single does not chart on the R&B singles chart as black radio is serviced with the track “Insatiable” instead. “Cream” is backed with the non LP B-side “Horny Pony”, which was originally slated to be on the album but is instead replaced by “Gett Off”. Entering the Hot 100 at #46 on September 28, 1991, it quickly rises to the top of the chart just seven weeks later. “Cream” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 27, 1982 – “1999”, the fifth album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at Kiowa Trail Home Studio in Chanhassen, MN and Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA from January – August 1982. Even before the tour for “Controversy” wraps, Prince’s restless creativity sends him back into the studio. The musician looks to push the boundaries of what he has done previously, but also reach a wider audience without any artistic compromise. Ironically enough, the first song recorded for the new album is its closing track (“International Lover”), and its opening track (“1999”) is the last one completed. By the time recording wraps, Prince realizes he has more material than can fit on a single LP. When he suggests to Warner Bros. that he wants it to be a two LP set, they are initially hesitant. A compromise is reached, releasing it as Prince intends, but with a lower $10.98 list price, rather than the normal list price of $13.98 or $14.98 for a two album set. “1999” is the first to be credited to “Prince And The Revolution” (the latter written in reverse on the front cover), is his breakthrough to a wide mainstream audience. It spins off four singles including “Little Red Corvette” (#6 Pop, #15 R&B), “Delirious” (#8 Pop, #18 R&B) and the title track (#1 Dance, #4 R&B, initially peaked at #44, re-charted in 1983 peaked at #12 Pop). Prince supports the project with the now legendary “Triple Threat Tour” featuring The Time and Vanity 6 as the opening acts. “1999” spends over three years on the pop album charts and nearly two years on the R&B chart. Prince also receives his first Grammy nominations for Best R&B Vocal Performance (“International Lover”) and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male (“1999”) in 1984 (losing to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and “Thriller”). When the album is first released on CD, it omits “DMSR” since it would breach the seventy minute time limit placed on a single disc at the time. The track is restored to the CD in 1992. “1999” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2008. The album is reissued on vinyl in 2011 by Rhino Records, replicating all of the original packaging. After Prince’s untimely passing in April of 2016, “1999” re-enters the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number seven, surpassing its original chart peak of number nine on May 28, 1983. On November 29, 2019, “1999” is scheduled to be released in multiple reissues. The ultimate of these is a 5 CD + DVD, or 10 LP Super Deluxe box set, featuring 12" extended mixes, 7" edits, previously unreleased outtakes, and two full live concerts recorded at Masonic Hall in Detroit, MI and The Summit in Houston, TX in 1982. “1999” peaks at number four on the Billboard R&B album chart, number seven on the Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 14, 1981 – “Controversy”, the fourth album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at Uptown Studio (Kiowa Trail Home Studio) in Chanhassen, MN, Sunset Sound and Hollywood Sound in Hollywood, CA from April – July 1981. Released one year to the week after of his previous album, the ribald and controversial “Dirty Mind”, the fourth release by Prince marks the beginning of major changes in the prolific musicians sound and songwriting. Much like his previous albums, it features Prince playing nearly all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals by himself. Much of the album is recorded in Prince’s home studio in Chanhassen, MN (aka “The Purple House”), upgrading the studio with an Ampex 24-track multi-track recorder and Soundcraft 3B console. The remaining songs, overdubbing and final mixing is completed at Sunset Sound and Hollywood Sound in Hollywood, CA. “Controversy” is the first album in which he uses his newly acquired Linn LM-1 drum machine, which becomes a cornerstone of Prince’s classic 80’s era work. The albums eight songs run a diverse gamut from fans and the media’s obsession with Prince’s private life, sexuality and personal beliefs (the title track), the musicians then unfettered obsession with sex (“Sexuality”, “Do Me Baby”, “Private Joy”,“Jack U Off”), to commentary about the then recent news stories like the Atlanta child murders, the Abscam Scandal, the assassination attempt on President Reagan, the murder of John Lennon (“Annie Christian”), and his concerns over the escalation of the Cold War between the United States and the then Soviet Union (“Ronnie Talk To Russia”). The title track “Controversy” (#3 R&B, #70 Pop) like “Uptown” from the previous album, touches upon the public and the media’s intense obsession with the enigmatic star’s personal life, race, religious beliefs and sexuality.  It spins off three singles including “Let’s Work” (#9 R&B) and “Do Me Baby”. The track “Sexuality” is issued as a single outside of the US only, but the music video shot for the song is seen by American fans on various video shows. The original LP pressing also comes packaged with a poster of Prince standing in his shower clad in only black bikini underwear. The album is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2011 by Warner Bros/Rhino Records, making the title available on vinyl for the first time in nearly twenty years. It replicates the original album packaging including the poster. It is also reissued on cassette tape along with several other classic Prince albums in 2016. “Controversy” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty one on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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