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His name, his pride or his music?
by Gene Geter

When Prince announced on his 35th birthday (June 7, 1993) that he was changing his name to , no one took his announcement seriously. Who in their right mind would change their name to an unpronounceable symbol? It's funny because just a month earlier, Prince had retired from studio recordings.

In an exclusive interview, told 1994's August issue of Vibe

magazine that Prince "stopped making records because he didn't need to anymore." ‘Til this day, it's still a big mystery why he changed his name. There have been a few magazines such as 1995's fall issue of Esquire Gentlemen where has spoken more in-depth about the new name. The question that still lies is...did Prince change his name for himself? To get out of his contract because he doesn't own any of his material? Or to prove a point to his former record company about music? Some people believe he only did it to bulk up his publicity and then in the next couple of years, he'll change his name back to Prince. But if we look back over Prince's career, he was never Prince all of the time. He had many different and unique names. The first one notably remembered was Jamie Starr. Starr's name appeared (including Prince) on albums by The Time, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6 and Sheila E. Why the name Starr? Maybe so groups like The Time and Vanity 6 could obtain their own notoriety. It was years before people figured out Starr was Prince.
When the soundtrack to Purple Rain hit the top of the charts, the media and the public gave Prince some new names like His Royal Badness, His Purple Majesty and The Kid (which he portrayed in the movie). That same year, Prince (under the name Alexander Nevermind) wrote Sheena Easton's "Sugar Walls." Rumors began spreading around that Alexander Nevermind was used to describe the bad relationship he had with Alexander O'Neal. At one time, O'Neal was to be the leader of The Time.

In 1986, Prince introduced another name, Christopher Tracy. Tracy was the name that wrote The Bangles' "Manic Monday." In Prince's second movie, "Under The Cherry Moon", his character name was Christopher Tracy. Why so

many names? Did he feel like a different person everytime he created a different song?

The next year, Prince gave us Joey Coco. Coco wrote songs for various artists including "Telepathy" for Deborah Allen and "You're My Love" for Kenny Rogers. Then, Prince had Camille. Camille was the funny voice on the Sign O' The Times album. Whatever Prince was doing to his voice, it made him sound like he was inhaling some helium! The unique voice of Camille formed from the outtakes of this album. Though Times was almost a three-disc set, it whittled down to two. Certain Camille songs such as "Housequake" and "If I Was Your Girlfriend" remained on the album while others became B-sides. It was once considered that these Camille sessions should be under one album. Just like Jamie Starr, Camille also fooled many people. It even fooled America's Top Ten host Casey Kasem. When "U Got The Look" was on the charts, Kasem mentioned Camille as if it was a real person. After Camille was going so well, he went on to Paisley Park. Coincidentally, that's the name of his recording studio in Minneapolis. It seems like most of the songs under that name were throwaways such as Paula Abdul's "U". There was nothing to think about with Park. Everyone knew it was Prince.

On his last (Prince) album, Prince became Victor on "The Sacrifice Of Victor." This time, Prince wasn't playing around again with another silly name. It was his true thoughts about being victor, victor through violence, racism, etc. Overall, Prince was trying to give the world a lyrical message. Musically, he's not always going to be a caterpillar. Someday, he'll be a butterfly. It almost seem to make sense why he named this album .

His former record company (Warner Bros.) didn't think an album could sell with on it. Everyone knows the name Prince. How would people find a album in a record store? His record company felt he couldn't sell like he use to and felt they weren't promoting his music right. In 1994, independently released "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" which charted No. 3 on Billboard's Pop Singles Chart. The next year, The Gold Experience was released, but wanted it released the year before. Instead, alternative projects were released such as The Beautiful Experience, Come, The Black Album, 1-800-New-Funk and Purple Medley. Also, he responded by scrawling "slave" on his right cheek. He has even went far to have another name on The New Power Generation's Exodus album called Tora Tora.

After being with Warner Brothers for eighteen years, they decided to end their relationship with on a good note with Chaos And Disorder. But still, he seems to be upset with them. On the album cover, a foot print lays over a cracked vinyl record which has a picture of an eye. This eye is similar to the vinyl picture on Prince's 1999 album. And from this eye, there's a tear falling from it which ironically has an upside-down Warner Brothers logo inside.

Striking an alliance with EMI-Capitol for his 1996 album Emancipation, a triple-CD set, has unrestricted output, keeps his master tapes and is free to market and price his album. Emancipation is best described as simply "love, sex and liberty." With "slave" taken off his face, told USA Today, "this is my debut. My name represents this body of work, not what came before."

Along with covers (a first!) such as The Stylistics' "Betcha By Golly Wow!" and The Delfonics' "La, La, La, Means I Love You," Emancipation is filled with what he calls "sentimental stuff." About eight years ago, Prince met his future wife, Mayté Garcia, in Germany when she was only 16. She's the one who inspired such songs like "Let's Have A Baby," "Saviour," and "Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife." In the beginning, Mayté was just his friend and sister, but gradually, he recognized their destiny. Coincidence or fate? was christened Prince. Mayté's childhood nickname was Princess. Their fathers are both named John and his mother's name is Mattie, oddly similar to Mayté. Her mother's name is Nelle, akin to his surname, Nelson. Unfortunately, the EMI label went bankrupt giving the opportunity to release music on his own NPG record label.

  In 1997, started selling a four-CD set titled Crystal Ball via the internet (selling 100,000 copies). The latter, made exclusive deals to distribute the set through record stores oppose to record companies delivering it to record stores. Believing that record companies take too much money from their artists, he decided to delete the middle man. And it doesn't stop there, there will also be three new albums coming from his label this year including Chaka Khan, who hasn't released a new album since 1992.

Music is music. It doesn't really matter whose name is on the record. If the record's good, somebody will buy it. Whether it's

Prince, , The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, The Artist or Tora Tora, the soul that's in that body still created it. People ask yourselves...what really matters? His name, his pride or his music? All three.

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