Prince death: Five strange stories about mysterious US musician

  • Published
Media caption,

Prince gave an interview to the BBC in 1995 but did not say a word

Prince, who has died at his home in Minnesota, was known for his cross-genre pop music and multiple reinventions - but it was also the sense of mystery around the man that delighted his fans.

As he rarely gave interviews, rumours about Prince flourished, and the star even admitted to teasing journalists because he wanted them to concentrate on his music.

But the myths that arose also added to the enigma generated by his sexual ambiguity, outlandish performances and eccentric name changes.

Perhaps most surprising was that some of the most outrageous stories about him were actually true.

1) He went without sleep

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Prince, seen here in 1986, was a prolific writer and performer from a young age

Prince was famous for being a workaholic and tireless music-obsessive, who produced nearly 40 studio albums and dozens of other recordings over a period of nearly 40 years.

He was so dedicated that he is reported to have often stayed awake for days when in the studio working on early albums.

The artist appeared to confirm the rumours in an interview in 1985, when he said: "There's not a person around who can stay awake as long as I can.

"Music is what keeps me awake."


2) He knocked on doors for Jehovah's Witnesses

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Prince had some of his greatest successes in the 1980s

His friend and mentor Larry Graham, former bassist with the band Sly and the Family Stone, introduced Prince to the Jehovah's Witnesses in around 2001.

"I don't see it really as a conversion. More, you know, it's a realisation," Prince told the New Yorker magazine in 2008. "It's like Morpheus and Neo in 'The Matrix.'"

He began attending meetings at a local Kingdom Hall and, like his fellow Witnesses, knocked on doors from time to time to preach the religion's beliefs, according to the report.

"Sometimes people act surprised, but mostly they're really cool about it," he said.


3) He did not believe in time

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Prince said he managed to retain his youthful appearance because he did not count the years

It might seem like a myth, but Prince long spoke about his view that time was a trick.

In an interview with Dutch television in 1999, he said he had begun exploring that idea when he recorded his apocalyptic song 1999 in 1984. His views almost meant he did not believe in birthdays.

"I don't celebrate birthdays" he said. "It stops me from counting days, which stops me from counting time, which allows me to still look the same as I did 10 years ago."

It is a belief he came back to in later interviews, telling the Guardian in 2011 that he did not age because "time is a mind construct... It's not real."


4) He needed hip surgery

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Prince carried a cane as he appeared stage at the Grammy's last year

Along with high heels and flamboyant shirts, walking sticks were a feature of Prince's wardrobe from the early 1990s, but reports of hip problems emerged around 2005.

He was said to have been planning secret surgery, but in 2009 the showbiz journalist Roger Friedman wrote that the star had refused a double hip replacement because his faith as a Jehovah's Witness did not allow blood transfusions.

Another journalist said after a 2010 interview that it was clear from the singer's "agility" on the dancefloor that the rumours that he needed double hip surgery were "unfounded".

But in the absence of official comment from the artist or his representatives, and Prince continuing to carry canes in public appearances, the story re-emerged in media reports as recently as this year.

VERDICT: Unclear

5) He painted his house purple

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Prince, seen here in 2011, reportedly painted stripes on his home

Fan sites are full of weird and wonderful stories, including claims Prince decorated his room as a teenager with mirrors and rabbit fur. Who knows?

More widely documented were allegations he painted his rented home in Los Angeles purple in 2006.

His landlord at the time, basketball star Carlos Boozer, sued the singer for unauthorised work, claiming he had painted the exterior of the house with purple stripes and his "Love Symbol", and installed monogrammed carpeting.

Lawyers for the star argued that Boozer had collected his rent without complaint, and the lawsuit was dismissed.

VERDICT: Probably true

Reporting by Jasmine Taylor-Coleman