It’s estimated that American musician Prince wrote over 1000 songs in his lifetime (many of them never released). But what was his first song?
As a child, Prince wrote the song “Funk Machine” when he was just 7 years old, and this could be considered his “first song.” The first-released official single from Prince as a solo artist was “Soft and Wet”—released on June 7, 1978.
Let’s take a look at the career beginnings of one of the greatest musicians of modern musical history.
The Early Life of Prince
Prince was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7, 1958. His father was a pianist and songwriter, John Lewis Nelson, who went by the stage name “Prince Rogers,” and his mother was a jazz singer, Mattie Della.
When asked about the name “Prince,” Prince’s father revealed he called his son “Prince,” because he wanted him to be able “to do everything I wanted to do.” As a child, Prince didn’t like his name and instead asked people to call him “Skipper.”
Prince was epilectic and suffered seizures when he was young. Talking about his struggle with the illness, he said, “My mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore,’ and she said, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Because an angel told me so.’”
Prince has a younger sister, named Tyka, and both were keenly interested in music, which their father encouraged. When he was just 7 years old, Prince wrote his first song “Funk Machine,” on the piano.
Prince’s parents divorced when he was 10. His mother got remarried to Hayward Baker and had a son named Omarr. Prince did not always get along with his step-father and moved in and out of his mother’s house several times, going to stay with his father in the interim.
Prince did appreciate some moments of his relationship with his step-father, such as when he took him to see James Brown in concert and helped the family to be more financially secure.
Prince went to Minneapolis’ Bryant Junior High and then Central High School. He played basketball at school, and continued this hobby as an adult. He was also part of the Minnesota Dance Theatre.
The young Prince
The Making of a Legend
Prince, along with his cousin’s husband, Pepe Willie, Marcy Ingvoldstad and Kristie Lazenberry, formed the band “94 East.” Prince and Willie co-wrote the song, “Just Another Sucker.”
Listen to the song:
Prince then created a solo demo tape and managed to get a recording contract with business man Owen Husney, when he was 19. He then recorded another demo tape and gained interest from several record companies, eventually signing with Warner Bros.
Prince left Minneapolis and moved to Sausalito, California, to record his first album For You, released on April 7, 1978. Prince wrote, produced, arranged, composed, and played all 27 instruments on the recording.
Prince’s debut single, “Soft and Wet” reached number 12 on the Hot Soul Singles chart and No. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It wasn’t until 1984 that Prince achieved his first number 1 album—Purple Rain—and first number 1 single with “When Doves Cry” from the same album.
Prince went on to sell over 100 million records worldwide, with an incredible 39 studio albums, four live albums, nine compilation albums, 17 video albums and three posthumous albums.
He has released 97 singles, 34 promotional singles, 21 internet singles, and eight internet downloads.
The Demise of Prince
On April 7, 2016, it was reported that Prince had contracted influenza. A week later he performed a rescheduled show, despite not feeling well. The next morning, while travelling home on his private jet, the pilot made an emergency landing at Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois, as Prince had gone unconscious.
At the hospital, he received Narcan, which is a medication used to block the effects of opioids. Prince regained consciousness and left the hospital, against his doctors’ advice. He suffered health problems in the weeks afterwards.
On the morning of April 21, Prince was found dead in an elevator at his home address, where he had laid dead for at least six hours. The cause of death was found to be an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl.