Prince during the Sign O’ The Times Era, when his identity as Camille reigned supreme.
Yesterday, Prince’s Estate, in partnership with Warner Bros. Records and Tidal, announced that on Prince’s birthday, June 7, it will release Originals, a 15-track album featuring 14 previously unreleased recordings by Prince of songs that he gave to other artists. The news was greeted with joy by Prince fans and also by me, because the Prince Estate has unwittingly tied in perfectly to my April theme of names and the virtues of having multiple identities.
According to Jem Aswad, writing in Variety, “By the mid-1980s, in addition to releasing nine of his most commercially successful albums, he also wrote and recorded many dozens of songs for proteges The Time, Vanity 6, Sheila E., Apollonia 6, Jill Jones, the Family, and Mazarati, and countless unreleased tracks.”
And, I would add, Prince wrote many of those songs using aliases — his other identities.
According to an article penned by brilliant Prince writer and friend Erica Thompson in Columbus Alive back in May 2016, some of Prince’s best-known aliases included Camille, who is recognizable in any Prince song where you hear sped-up vocals.
Camille holds a place in my heart as she/he is featured on some of my personal favorite Prince songs, including “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” “Housequake,” and “U Got the Look,” which featured Sheena Easton. Speaking of Easton, Prince used the name “Alexander Nevermind” as the writer of Easton’s single “Sugar Walls” and on “Eternity” as Rocker Happyfeller for keyboards and Freddie “The Phantom” for guitar.
Of the tracks that will be featured on Originals, many were penned under one of Prince’s aliases. “Manic Monday,” made famous by The Bangles, was penned by Prince under the alias “Christopher.” “You’re My Love,” on Kenny Rogers’ 1981 album They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To, was credited to mysterious songwriter Joey Coco (aka, Guess Who?). And “Make-Up,” from Vanity 6, was produced by one Jamie Starr.
Prince’s astrological sign was Gemini, and he certainly overachieved in that area. He was not only a dual personality but a dual personality times twenty. A Prince.org thread from 2004 had fans vying to list all of Prince’s aliases. They came up with 37!