Prince (Protégé) Summer: Martika and Carmen Electra

Prince (Protégé) Summer: Martika and Carmen Electra

(Featured Image: CD Booklet from Carmen Electra, 1993; © Warner Bros.)

Look, guys, I’m not trying to fish for sympathy here, but it’s my goddamn birthday and I just wrote a post about Carmen Fucking Electra’s Prince-produced 1993 album. Okay, maybe I am trying to fish for sympathy. Just click the damn link and share in my misery:

Prince (Protégé) Summer: Martika and Carmen Electra

Don’t worry, though, I also take some time in this post to talk about Prince’s work on Martika’s Kitchen–which, incidentally, is also celebrating a birthday, as it turns 25 years old today! Remember to come back next week for more posts on, frankly, much better music. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go actually try to enjoy my birthday…Carmen-free.

Home Recordings, 1976

Home Recordings, 1976

(Featured Image: Prince at the piano, circa 1976; photo stolen from prince.org.)

“Guess how many times I’ve changed addresses,” Prince asked at one point in a 1979 interview with Cynthia Horner of the African American teen magazine Right On! “Twenty-two times!” (Horner 1979) His typically charming, almost childlike delivery made it seem like an amusing anecdote; for what it’s worth, it was also probably an exaggeration. But beneath the wide-eyed ingénue act, he was revealing something profoundly sad about himself. For about six years during his childhood, Prince’s living situation was unstable at best; at worst, he was functionally homeless.

The period of instability ended around the same time that Prince formed his first band, thanks to the same catalyst: André Anderson, whose mother Bernadette took him in around 1974, and with whom he lived until after he signed with his first manager in late 1976. It was at the Anderson household where Prince made his earliest home recordings, at the ages of 17 and 18. But it was in his proverbial “wilderness period” when he established the fierce independence and drive–as well as the distrust of and distance from others–that would define his art, for better and worse, in the decades to come.

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