Friday, February 25, 2011

THE FIRST TIME: PART NINE

PRINCE - "PRINCE" (1979)


This wildly talented and eccentric artist was born Prince Rogers Nelson in 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father, John was a jazz musician and Prince was named after his father's stage name, Prince Rogers. As a child, Prince developed an interest in music, which his father encouraged, and he wrote his first song at the age of seven on his father's piano.

Prince's parent split up when he was ten and he would go and live with them both, having to go back and forth between them. He would eventually move in with the family of a close friend, Andre Anderson who would later become musician, Andre Cymone.

Prince formed a band in high school called Grand Central with Andre on bass and Prince's cousin, Charles Smith on drums. Prince handled piano and guitar and the group performed covers songs at parties and clubs. Morris Day (who would later become the lead singer of the band, The Time) replaced Charles on drums and the band renamed themselves, Champagne and started performing original music.

Prince worked on creating his own demos, trying to get signed to a record label. At seventeen, he signed with Owen Husney to manage him and help get him a recording contract. Prince was teamed up with David Z to produce a slick new demo and several labels became interested. Prince eventually signed with Warner Bros. Records where the label agreed to give him creative control on his first three albums and ownership of the publishing rights, which is not exactly a common arrangement for a new artist.

"For You" was Prince's debut album, which was released in 1978. He would write, arrange and produce the entire record as well as play all of the instruments. However, during the recording of the album, he went over double the amount of his initial advance. While the album had one single, "Soft And Wet (LP Version)' hit number twelve on the r&b charts, it didn't do anything on the pop charts. The album sold slightly under a half a million copies but created some buzz for the musician.

He released his next album in 1979, simply titled, "Prince" and now everyone started to take notice. It was a much more diverse record, covering pop, rock, funk, dance and sexy ballads. The first single, "I Wanna Be Your Lover" went to number one on the r&b charts and hit number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100. That single alone sold over a million copies and the album would also go platinum.

He would go on to release two more successful albums, "Controversy" (1981) and "1999 [Explicit]" (1982) before becoming a full fledged superstar by starring in a popular semi-autobiographical film, "Purple Rain" in 1984 and the hit soundtrack,"Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain"" which would go on to sell thirteen million copies in the U. S. alone. Prince would win two Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for Best Original Score for this project.

Prince is one very busy and prolific musician, releasing thirty-five albums to date and selling well over 100 million copies worldwide as well as writing and producing for many other artists including Chaka Khan, The Bangles, Madonna, Shelia E, The Time, Sheena Easton and Sinead O'Connor.

Enjoy the first single that introduced Prince to the world:

"I Wanna Be Your Lover" - Prince (1979)

BRITNEY SPEARS - ". . .BABY ONE MORE TIME" (1999)



Britney Jean Spears was born in 1981 and raised in Kentwood, Louisiana. She began performing at a very young age where she won local singing competitions and children's talent shows.

At eight, she went to audition for the revival of the television show, "The All-New Mickey Mouse Club" but was rejected because she was too young but the casting director was so impressed by Britney that he introduced her to a talent agent. The agent helped get her commercials and theater work as well as a shot on the television talent program, "Star Search". Britney finally got an opportunity to appear on "The Mickey Mouse Club" during the show's sixth season in 1993 but the show was cancelled after one more season.

In 1997, Britney's mother, Lynne gave family friend and entertainment lawyer, Larry Rudolph a tape of Britney singing. He decided he wanted to pitch her to record labels and a professional demo was made. Britney later went to New York with the tape and met with four record labels. She was rejected by three of the labels but Jive Records was interested. They were impressed by her singing ability at such a young age  and saw her potential commercial appeal. The label teamed her up with producer, Eric Foster White to work on some demos and help shape her sound. Jive's president, Clive Calder liked what he heard and ordered a full album. Britney was flown to Sweden to work with several producers (including Max Martin) there to record part of the album.

"...Baby One More Time" was written by Max Martin and was originally given to the r&b/hip-hop group, TLC but they turned it down.  The tune became Britney's first single, where it went straight to number one and topped the charts for two weeks.This song would go on to hit number one in fifteen different countries, sell an astonishing nine million copies and earn Britney a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Her debut album, also entitled "...Baby One More Time [ENHANCED CD]" was released after Britney did a mini-tour at shopping malls across the country and the album entered the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart at number one. Three more singles were released, "Sometimes", "(You Drive Me) Crazy" and "From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart" and they all became top forty hits. The album would go on to sell a total of twenty-five million copies around the world.

This was just the beginning as Britney would become a media sensation and continued to have many hit songs and concert tours but the pressure of fame and success took it's toll on the young singer. She had issues with substance abuse and depression which eventually lead to a public emotional meltdown in 2007 where she would wind up shaving her head. She sought treatment and soon got her life back in order.

She married childhood friend, Jason Alexander in January of 2004 in Las Vegas but the marriage was annulled two days later due to a "lack of understanding her actions". She would later marry her back-up dancer, Kevin Federline after knowing him for five months in September 2004. They would have two sons together, Sean and Jayden but the marriage ended in 2006.

Britney Spears has sold over one hundred million records during her career and her upcoming seventh album, "Femme Fatale" is due to be released on March 15th of this year. The first single, "Hold It Against Me" has already topped the charts here in the U.S.

"...Baby One More Time" - Britney Spears (1999)

This is the music video for her first single where Britney dances around as the naughty school girl:


"OUTLANDOS D'AMOUR" - THE POLICE (1978)


Drummer, Stewart Copeland formed The Police after his progressive rock band, Curved Air disbanded in 1977 with Henry Padovani on guitar and Gordon Sumner, who would later become professionally known as "Sting" on bass guitar and vocalist. The punk rock sound was taking hold in London at the time, so the trio would release a single called "Fall Out" and toured as a support act. Guitarist, Andy Summers joined the band later that year and they all performed briefly together before Henry Padovani left the band and this would become the permanent line-up.

The Police struggled to make their first album because they had little money and no record deal but when Stewart's older brother, Miles Copeland III, an entertainment manager, heard the band's song, "Roxanne" he was determined to get them signed to a label. Miles got The Police signed to A&M Records (and with the label's help, created his own record company, I.R.S. Records in 1979) and they released, "Outlandos D'Amour" in 1978. "Roxanne" was the band's first single but it did not chart. After extensive touring around the globe, the single was re-released and it reached number twelve in the U.K. and number thirty-two in the United States.

The group released their second album, "Reggatta De Blanc" later in 1979, which became a major seller in the U.K. reaching number one and gave The Police their first number one singles there with "Message In A Bottle and "Walking On The Moon". Although the songs didn't do as well here in the U.S., The Police were enjoying emerging awareness and popularity throughout the rest of the world.

The group would release three more chart-topping albums with "Synchronicity" in 1983 being their most popular with four singles reaching the U.S. top forty including "Every Breath You Take" which went to number one for eight weeks and won The Police a Grammy that year for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.

By the end of the "Synchronicity" Tour in March 1984, each member went their separate ways and spent time pursuing solo projects but this was more seen as the band just taking a break however, "Synchronicity" would end up being The Police's last studio album due to a clash of egos, the pressure of fame and financial success that increased tension and strain amongst the band mates and they officially ended as a group.

The Police did eventually reunite for a world tour to mark the 30th anniversary of the group in 2007 and to kick things off, they opened the 49th Annual Grammy Awards, performing "Roxanne" as a way to announce their return.

During their career, The Police released five studio albums which have sold over fifty million copies worldwide, had seven top ten U.S. hits, won six Grammy Awards and would be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

This is the band's first major release:

"Roxanne" - The Police (1978)

NEW SOUNDS

WHITNEY HOUSTON Words cannot express how much I miss the glorious voice of Whitney Houston . It's been five years since her passing...