Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library (1972); Lewton Cole/Alamy (1980); ZUMA Press Inc/Alamy (1983, 1985); MARKA/Alamy (1986); The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images (1988); AP Photo/Reed Saxon (1995); AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File (2007); Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File (2015). Photo production by Nicki Nicki Longoria
- June 7: Prince Rogers Nelson is born at Mount Sinai Hospital in south Minneapolis to Mattie Della Shaw and John Lewis Nelson. “Prince” comes from his father, a jazz pianist whose stage name is “Prince.”
- Prince has his first piano lesson.
- September 24: Mattie Della Shaw and John Lewis Nelson get divorced.
- A high-school-age Prince plays backup guitar on a studio session for a group called 94 East, started by his early musical mentor Pepé Willie (see Q&A on page 57).
- Prince, 16, records his first demos with band Grand Central and producer Chris Moon at MoonSound studio.
- Moon plays Prince’s demo to Owen Husney, who becomes Prince’s first manager. Husney buys Prince several instruments, gets him an apartment in Uptown, and starts shopping the artist to major labels.
- Warner Bros. signs Prince to a three-album deal worth a reported $1 million.
- April 7: Warner Bros. releases Prince’s first record, For You. His single “Soft and Wet” reaches
- No. 12 on Billboard’s R&B chart. Prince then forms a road band, The Revolution, comprising Bobby Z, André Cymone, Dez Dickerson, Gayle Chapman, and Matt Fink.
- January 5–6: Prince and The Revolution play their first local shows at the Capri Theater in north Minneapolis.
- October 19: Prince is released. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” goes to No. 1 on the soul charts, and Prince and his band are featured on American Bandstand and Midnight Special.
- Launches The Time, with Morris Day, Terry Lewis, Jimmy (Jam) Harris, and Jellybean Johnson.
- Forms Vanity 6, with Vanity, Susan Moonsie, and Brenda Bennett.
- March 9: Plays debut show at First Avenue (Uncle Sam’s at the time).
- September–December: The Purple Rain film crew shoots at First Avenue and other Minneapolis locales.
- June 25: Prince releases the Purple Rain album with The Revolution.
- July 27: Purple Rain movie is released. Prince and The Revolution would later win Grammys for Best Group Rock Vocal for “Purple Rain” and R&B Song of the Year for “I Feel For You.”
- March 25: Wins an Oscar for Best Original Song Score for Purple Rain.
- September: Fires The Revolution but keeps Matt Fink. Forms new unnamed band featuring Sheila E. on drums.
- Prince’s $10 million Paisley Park Studio is completed in Chanhassen.
- June 20: Releases Batman for the Tim Burton film. The single “Batdance” is his first chart topper since “Kiss.”
- December: Opens Glam Slam nightclub in Minneapolis’s Warehouse District.
- Summer: Films Graffiti Bridge, the sequel to Purple Rain, in the Twin Cities. The film subsequently flops.
- January: Debuts new band, the New Power Generation. Original lineup includes rapper/dancer Anthony “Tony M” Mosely, Tommy Barbarella on keyboards, Michael Bland on drums, and Sonny T. on bass.
- September: Changes his name to an unpronounceable symbol (the symbol itself is a blend of the male and female gender symbols).
- Valentine’s Day: Weds Mayte Garcia. In October 1996, they welcome a child into the world, Ahmir Nelson (“Boy Gregory”). He dies a week later from Pfeiffer syndrome.
- November: Prince leaves Warner Bros. after years of battling the label for control of his music. Releases Emancipation on his own New Power Generation label.
- With Crystal Ball, Prince becomes the first major artist to release an album on the Internet.
- February 14: Mayte and Prince annul their marriage.
- Prince becomes a Jehovah’s Witness thanks to guidance from friend and adviser Larry Graham.
- May: Changes name back to Prince.
- Prince marries his second wife, Manuela Testolini, whom he met when she was working for his Love4OneAnother charitable organizations.
- October: Prince and Testolini move to her native Toronto.
- March: Prince is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
- May 24: Manuela files for divorce from Prince.
- Super Bowl XLI: Prince performs his now-legendary halftime show.
- June 7: Prince plays three local shows in one day: a quick promo set at Macy’s, a Target Center concert, and an after-party jam at First Avenue (his last performance there).
- January 16–18: Plays a six-show, three-night stand at the Dakota Jazz Club, during which he debuts his new all-woman backing band 3rdEyeGirl.
- January 21: Plays two shows at Paisley Park featuring songs from his Piano & a Microphone Tour. They mark his final performances at the compound.
- April 16: Two days after a health scare that required an emergency landing after a show, Prince throws a party at Paisley Park. He tells fans to “wait a few days before you waste your prayers.”
- April 21: Prince, age 57, is found dead at Paisley Park.
(Most of) Prince’s Discography
- For You, 1978
- Prince, 1979
- Dirty Mind, 1980
- Controversy, 1981
- 1999, 1982
- Purple Rain, 1984
- Around the World in a Day, 1985
- Parade, 1986
- Sign ‘O’ the Times, 1987
- Lovesexy, 1988
- Batman, 1990
- Graffiti Bridge, 1991
- Diamonds and Pearls, 1992
- The Love Symbol Album, 1994
- Come, 1994
- The Black Album, 1994
- Gold Experience, 1995
- Chaos and Disorder, 1996
- Emancipation, 1994
- Crystal Ball + The Truth, 1998
- New Power Soul, 1998
- The Vault...Old Friends 4 Sale, 1999
- Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, 1999
- The Rainbow Children, 2001
- One Nite Alone, 2002
- Xpectation, 2003
- N-E-W-S, 2003
- The Chocolate Invasion, 2004
- The Slaughterhouse, 2004
- Musicology, 2004
- 3121, 2006
- Planet Earth, 2007
- LOtUSFLOW3R + MPLSound, 2009
- 20Ten, 2010
- PlectrumElectrum, 2014
- Art Official Age, 2010
- HITnRUN Phase One, 2015
- HITnRUN Phase Two, 2015