Prince dead: 12 craziest moments in his career from changing his name to a symbol to turning down Michael Jackson

Remembering another icon of individuality taken from us in 2016

Jess Denham
Thursday 21 April 2016 18:41 BST

Prince has died in his recording studio aged 57, becoming the latest cultural icon to be stolen from us by 2016.

The legendary “Purple Rain” singer’s body was found this morning, with his spokesperson confirming that he had been suffering from the flu.

In a similar vein to the late, great David Bowie, Prince was loved and admired around the world as a champion of individuality. He was certainly unique, with this host of crazy moments from his career highlighting just how much his wacky brilliance will be missed:

He became synonymous with dirty songs

Prince’s third album Dirty Mind gave him a reputation for promiscuity, with tracks “Head” and “Sister” raising eyebrows sky-high for their topics of oral sex and incest. His follow-up album Controversy fully lived up to his name, with similarly raunchy lyrics.

He changed his name to a symbol

Prince grew increasingly angry with his record company Warner Bros and changed his name in protest to a symbol in 2000. Said ‘Love Symbol was impossible to pronounce but referred to as ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’, shortened to ‘The Artist’ (it’s okay, no-one else could keep up either). Finally, he signed a new deal with Arista in the late Nineties and became Prince again, but that was a dark, confusing time for fans.

His song “Darling Nikki” prompted the creation of the ‘Explicit Content’ sticker

Tipper Gore heard the sexually-explicit track when she walked in to find her 12-year-old daughter dancing around the room to it. She was so shocked and outraged that she launched a campaign to make parents aware of the lyrics their young children might be listening to.

But it’s okay parents, because…

Prince stopped playing his dirtier ditties after becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. He converted to the religion in 2001 and became so devoted that he went on door-to-door visits to try and convert others, assuming a disguise by making his hair look different.

He pulled an album from release after a bad ecstasy trip

The untitled ‘Black Album’ from 1987 was withdrawn from release after an ecstasy experience made Prince believe that he would be committing an evil deed for sharing such dark and aggressive music with the world. It was finally released in 1994, and presumably Prince got over it.

He turned down Michael Jackson

MJ asked Prince to sing on “Bad” but bizarrely, Prince took the invitation as an insult and rejected it. Not the best decision of his career.

Prince performed on MTV in yellow, buttless chaps

It was 1991, and no-one has quite recovered from the trauma.

Prince's most iconic looks

He put on a funk musical based on The Odyssey

Glam Slam Ulysses debuted in August 1993 at a Los Angeles club, with Carmen Electra dancing. Variety reported that it “featured enough phallic symbols and references to make even Heidi Fleiss blush”.

He both inspired and then destroyed online music distribution

In 2006, Prince was widely praised for revolutionising music distribution using the internet with his website, so much so that he won a lifetime achievement award. All this credit, only for the singer to shut it down a month later, telling fans that “In a world without limitations and infinite possibilities, the time has come 2 once again make a leap of faith and begin anew.”

Prince sues his own fans

That’s right, the same fans that fuelled his music career and made him millions. Anyone found to be running a Prince fansite or YouTube channel was done for, as Prince threatened to sue anyone using his likeness online.

He recorded Kim Basinger’s sex noises

So this is still a rumour, but it’s so widespread that it’s almost certainly true. The Scandalous Sex Suite came out in 1989, featuring vocals from Basinger, along with some suspicious moaning that fans believe came from a sexual liaison between the two of them.

Prince rules the Super Bowl

Not so much crazy, as legendary, Prince’s 2007 half-time show in Miami remains one of the greatest to date. He performed hits “Purple Rain”, “Baby I’m a Star” and “Let’s Go Crazy’ while also covering “We Will Rock You” by Queen, “Best of You” by Foo Fighters”, “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan and “Proud Mary” by Creedance Clearwater Revival. Phew.

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