In 2004, former WCCO anchor and reporter John Reger talked with people from Prince’s career, when Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When his royal heels hit any stage, he reigned purple and supreme. But those feet first found their rhythm in the neighborhoods of north Minneapolis.
Named Prince Rogers Nelson after his father’s jazz band, his mother – a singer – called her boy “Skipper”.
By age 7, he was teaching himself to play TV theme songs.
Prince also taught himself to play guitar and moved into his friend’s house after his parents divorced. They formed a band with his cousin, Charles “Chazz” Smith, on drums. Prince took charge.
The band played family parties, once attracting 200 people when they practiced on the porch next door – until the police showed up.
Gallery: A Look At Prince, The Pop Superstar
Despite his small stature, Prince played basketball until 10th grade.
But he never missed a talent show, and built a Central High reputation on his loud music and quiet swagger.
Jellybean Johnson gigged with a rival band and battled Prince’s for superiority on the north side.
“Seeing a 14, 15, 16-year-old kid playing Carlos Santana – who was a god at the time – play it note for note, was phenomenal for me,” Johnson said. “I knew that he was different than everybody else.”
Prince’s guitar chops soon caught the ear of producer Pepe Willie, who used the 16-year-old on an album and saved his tracks.
That’s when Prince found his true home. For the next two years, he holed up in recording studios, creating original music and searching for a record deal.
At 19, Warner Brothers signed him to a recording contract, guaranteeing that he could produce his music alone.
His first album, “For You”, came out a year later to sluggish sales. So, he staged his first-ever concert at the Capri Theater in an attempt to prove to the record company big wigs he was ready for a national tour.
They told him he wasn’t.
Before long, however, everybody heard it. His next album had a No. 1 solo hit: Little Red Corvette. The following albums had crossover on the pop charts and MTV.
And then: Purple Rain. The movie and album launched him into Rock and Roll history.
“If he was just a songwriter, he’d already be great. But he’s also the great singer, the performer and the musician, and on most of those tracks, played every instrument, and was the engineer,” Jimmy Jam said. “Nobody has had that reach like that, that total reach. So, I think, for me, he’s at the top.”
From the north side, to the top, Prince was crowned a Rock and Roll hall of fame king.