Since becoming a global, Grammy-winning star in the '80s, with classics like "Kiss" and "Raspberry Beret," the R&B musician has pretty much kept to himself. He rarely gives interviews and mostly prefers laying low at his Paisley Park compound outside of Minneapolis instead of hob-knobbing with celebs in Hollywood. But with new music on the way this year – he just released a terrific new single "Screw Driver" online, which you can hear here – the star is pulling back the curtain on his private life.
A new Billboard cover story offers a rare glimpse of His Purpleness and Paisley Park. (An excerpt is available here; the full story is available at newsstands now).
Here are five jaw-dropping revelations from his interview.
1. Even at 54, Prince dresses like a total rock star. Writer Gail Mitchell notes, "The ever-slender Prince…is garbed in yellow pants and a long, oversized button-front white-and-yellow jersey emblazoned with 'MPLS' on the front. His afro is covered by an incongruous hat in the shape of a lion. His other eye-catching accessory: wedged silver shoes adorned with periodically flashing red lights."
2. He still hates the Internet – and has hired guns to help battle piracy of his music online. "I have a team of female black lawyers who keep an eye on such transgressions," Prince says.
3. He may have a touch of paranoia: the reporter is forbidden from tape recording their interview or even taking notes. "Some in the past have taken my voice and sold it," Prince says. "I can't remember the incident that triggered it and it's probably best that I don't."
4. Remember when Prince changed his name to an unspeakable symbol and began scrawling the word "slave" on his face? Turns out he wasn't just protesting his label, Warner Bros., for their lack of support for his career. He was also taking aim at a certain pop star. "It was also about Madonna," a Warner Bros. label-mate, Prince reveals. "She was getting paid, but at the time we were selling more records and selling out concerts on multiple nights."
5. The man has doves in his house. Doves! "Before heading back downstairs, I spy a large, nearly floor-to-ceiling white cage across the hall," Mitchell writes. "Approaching closer, I can see white doves, at least four or five of them, chilling inside." But unlike Prince's famous song, these birds don't cry: "Their coos echo ethereally through the building as I descend the stairs."