"I've loved making music and touring from the get-go," says Prince. "It's kind of what I was made for." Indeed, it's difficult to imagine the multi-million selling artist doing anything else. Since bursting onto the scene over 25 years ago he has lived and breathed music, spanning numerous styles from R&B and funk to jazz and hip-hop. He's written, recorded, and released hundreds of songs under various monikers, earning the admiration of fans and critics the world over.
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis on June 7, 1958, to pianist and songwriter John L Nelson and singer Mattie Shaw. Following the arrival of their daughter Tika Evene two years later, however, his parents drifted apart. His mother's remarriage led to a troubled relationship with his stepfather, and eventually he ran away from home.
From an early age music became a refuge. A prodigy, he taught himself to play more than 20 instruments by ear alone, and by junior high school was fronting his own band, Grand Central. The outfit's demo came to the attention of producer Owen Husney, who started contacting record labels and promoting his new star-in-the-making. A bidding war ensued, won by Warner Brothers, which offered full creative control and a contract.
Prince went on to record with some of the best-loved artists of the Eighties, including Madonna, Kate Bush and Cyndi Lauper, as well as writing several hit songs scored by others, such as Nothing Compares To You for Sinead O'Connor and Manic Monday for The Bangles.
Throughout his career the musician, who is no stranger to controversy, has attracted attention with his flamboyant stage outfits, which have ranged ranged from bikinis to leg warmers and high-heeled boots. "People say I'm wearing heels because I'm short," he told journalists who enquired about his choice of footwear, before explaining that his motive was rather different. "I'm wearing them because the women like them."
He cemented his reputation as a free-thinker in 1995 with the announcement he was changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol - a combination of the signs for male and female. In the wake of disputes with his label over artistic and financial control over his output it was, he said, the first step "towards the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Brothers".
Dubbed by journalists the Artist Formerly Known As Prince, he found the moniker stuck, and it wasn't until after his contract with Warner-Chappel expired in 2001 that he eventually went back to using his given name.
As varied in his private life as in his professional one, the musician has been linked to several A-list ladies, including Kim Basinger, Carmen Electra and Madonna. It was his backing singer and dancer Mayte Jannell Garcia who finally captured his heart, however, and the pair were wed on Valentine's Day 1996. They went on to have a son together, but the youngster was born with a rare skull disease and died shortly after Horoscope Gemini