Prince joins Twitter, tweets salad and confuses fans

Donna Grantis, Prince, Ida Nielsen Until recently images tweeted from Prince's band 3rdeyegirl have been of live shows and gig reviews

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Notoriously reclusive pop star Prince has surprised fans by joining Twitter.

His first message: "Prince's 1st tweet... Testing 1, 2", appeared on the social networking site in the early hours of 14 August.

It was followed by a photo of a salad and his first self-portrait, which turned out to be a photograph of an empty room filled with purple smoke.

The tweets came from his band's account, 3rd Eye Girl, leaving fans to wonder if they were an elaborate joke.

Prince's self-portrait Prince's "self portrait" was suitably enigmatic

An early adopter of the internet in the 1990s, Prince wrote songs with titles like Interactive and My Computer, and became one of the first artists to establish his own online music store.

But shortly after winning a Webby award in 2006, he pulled down his website and later declared "the internet's completely over".

"The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated," he told the Daily Mirror in 2010.

"Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."

However, he quietly re-established a web presence earlier this year, distributing new music with his all-female band via the 3rd Eye Girl website.

His bandmates have also been sending tweets since January, mostly linking to photos of Prince on stage and reviews of their tour.

Prince's sudden arrival on their Twitter stream was accompanied by the release of a new single, called Groovy Potential.

Prince's salad "Did eye add 2 much pepper?" asked Prince, as he tweeted a picture of his dinner

A minute-long clip of the jazz-tinged funk song was posted on YouTube, with the full track available to buy for the unusual sum of $0.88 (56 pence).

Fans were left in two minds about whether Prince's experiments with social media were genuine.

"Is this what I think it is?" asked Whitney Evans, while Stasha joked that hell must have "frozen over".

KC Shoen was convinced the tweets were legitimate. "It's him," he wrote. "Been a fan for years, I recognise his kind of crazy. U can't fake that."

Fuelling the debate, the 3rd Eye Girl team then tweeted a recent interview with V Magazine in which Prince admitted he did not own a smart phone.

The interview was conducted after a gig where he had banned phones and asked bouncers to eject anyone spotted trying to record the concert.

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