Saturday, 30 April 2016

50 Years Ago The Rolling Stones' Aftermath Hits No. 1

It was fifty years ago today that The Rolling Stones' album Aftermath hit no. 1 on the British albums chart. Aftermath was a historic album for Rolling Stones. It was the first album to consist entirely of songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Their first three albums had contained covers of material originated by other artists.

Aftermath contained some of The Rolling Stones' best known songs, including "Mother's Little Helper", "Under My Thumb", "Lady Jane", and "Out of Time". The version of Aftermath released in North America differed slightly from the one released in the United Kingdom. The songs "Out of Time", "Take It or Leave It", "What to Do", and, curiously,  "Mother's Little Helper" (which would be a hit single in the U.S.) were left off the album and the no. 1 single "Paint It, Black" was added to the album. "Out of Time", "Take It or Leave It", "What to Do", and "Mother's Little Helper" would later be included on later Rolling Stones compilation albums. While Aftermath hit no. 1 in the United Kingdom, it only reached no. 2 in the United States. In the U.S. it was kept out of the number one spot by The Beatles' compilation Yesterday and Today. Regardless, it spent fifty weeks on the Billboard albums chart.

Here is my favourite song from the British version of Aftermath, "Under My Thumb".

Friday, 29 April 2016

Classic Film Fans Defy Stereotypes

Society has a tendency to stereotype various groups of people, including the various fandoms that exist. Despite the prevalence of such, there is generally never any truth to these stereotypes. Not all Star Trek fans are nerds. Not all cat lovers are lonely spinsters. This is no less true of classic film buffs. Various stereotypes exist about classic film fans and pretty much none of them are true.

Indeed, perhaps the most common stereotype for classic film fans is that all of us are older folks. Indeed, even though I am an older member of Generation X, people are sometimes surprised that I am a fan of classic films. Strangely enough, they think I am too young to care about Humphrey Bogart or Hedy Lamarr! The fact is that there are a good number of younger people who love classic films. In fact, LA Weekly published an article just this week on why young people love the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. A number of my friends and fellow classic film fans were mentioned in the article. Now most of my friends mentioned in the article I would consider part of Generation Y, but I even know quite a few Millennials (people 24 and under) who also love classic films. The fact is a number of my classic film friends are considerably younger than I am. As prevalent as the idea is that most classic film fans are over 70, it isn't true at all.

Beyond the stereotype that all classic film buffs are over 70, there also exists the stereotype that all of us are Northern European in descent (or "white" in common parlance). This doesn't hold true any more than the stereotype that all classic film fans tend to be older. I am friends with classic film fans who are black, Hispanic, East Asian in descent, South Asian in descent, and a good number of other ethnicities as well. Frank Capra once described cinema as a "universal language" and I have no reason to doubt him given my experience. Film appeals to people of many different ethnicities, backgrounds, and ages.

Yet another stereotype about classic film buffs is that all of us are focused on the Studio Era or the Golden Age of Hollywood (roughly the Thirties through the Fifties). This doesn't hold true either. I have many friends who prefer the Silent Era to the Studio Era. I have yet other friends who prefer films made in the Seventies. I have still other friends who prefer films made places well beyond Hollywood. My favourite place and era for film is actually Britain in the Fifties and Sixties, although I love the films from the Golden Age of Hollywood as well.

Just as there are stereotypes about classic film fans in general, there are also stereotypes about what sorts of classic films appeal to certain groups of people. Among the most common of these stereotypes is that women generally don't like Westerns. Just as all classic film fans aren't over 70, not all Western fans are men. In fact, I know as many female Western fans as I do male Western fans. Perhaps the biggest John Wayne fan I know is a woman.

Just as it is assumed that women don't like Westerns, it is often assumed that men (at least heterosexual men) don't like musicals. Again this doesn't hold true. Musicals number among my favourite classic film genres and I know several other straight men who love them as well. Aside from Westerns it was quite possibly my father's favourite genre. He was the person who convinced me to watch My Fair Lady and in doing so not only introduced me to musicals, but Audrey Hepburn as well!

There are probably yet other stereotypes about classic film buffs out there, but these are the ones I have encountered most often. Most of them are based in preconceived notions society has about various categories of people (young people, men, women, et. al.). And like many preconceived notions they have little to no basis in reality. Classic films are classic films because they have existed for decades. And in that time they have been seen by many people. Many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers were introduced to them on local TV stations and cable channels. Many Gen Yers and Millennials were introduced to them through Turner Classic Movies. Their appeal is universal and transcends generations, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations. Is it little wonder then that nearly every stereotype about classic film fans rings false?

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A Whole Lot of Turner Classic Movies News This Week

It would seem that this week has given fans of classic films and fans of Turner Classic Movies good reason to celebrate. Quite simply, there has been quite a bit of good news for fans of Turner Classic Movies.

Of course, among the news this week is the seventh annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. Already many TCM fans attended the festival have posted photos to the various social media outlets, giving those of us unable to attend a means of experiencing the festival vicariously. This year's festival looks to be a great one, with a hand and foot print ceremony for Francis Ford Coppola outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Dame Angela Lansbury on hand for The Manchurian Candidate, Adam West and Lee Meriwether on hand for Batman (1966), book signings with Illeana Douglas and Rita Moreno, a conversation with Gina Lollobrigida, and much more. Of course, beyond the various events Turner Classic Movies Film Festival is a chance for classic film buffs to visit with their fellow fans. As someone who has never gotten to attend the festival, I must admit this is much of why I have always wanted to go.

Usually when the Turner Classic Film Festival takes place it is the single biggest piece of news for TCM fans that week, but that is not the case this year. It was on Tuesday that Filmstruck, a new, subscription film service, was announced. Filmstruck will be managed by Turner Classic Movies in partnership with the Criterion Collection. In fact, it will be the exclusive streaming service for Criterion.  Given the sheer number of films to which Criterion has the distribution rights, this can only be good news for classic film fans. Indeed, among the films that will be featured on Filmstruck are Seven Samurai, A Hard Day's Night, A Room with a View, and many more. Of course, given Filmstruck is being done in collaboration with TCM, it seems possible that some of the films from Turner's library may well be included on the service, although there has been no official announcement regarding that.

Yesterday Turner Classic Movies brought fans more good news. Quite simply, they announced the launch of their first official fan club, TCM Backlot. Quoting the press release from Turner, "TCM Backlot will give fans unprecedented access to all things TCM including exclusive content, never-before-seen talent interviews, archival videos from the TCM vault, an exclusive TCM podcast, as well as opportunities to win visits to the TCM set, attend meet and greets with TCM hosts and the opportunity to influence programming through online votes." The only downside to TCM Backlot is that it costs an $87 annual fee. This will put TCM Backlot out of reach for many Turner Classic Movies fans, who either cannot afford to join or won't be able to do so without drastically rearranging their finances. Regardless, it is certainly good news for those who can afford to do so and continues TCM's commitment to their fans.

Of course, as I write this the Turner Classic Film Festival is under way, so there might be much more news before the end of the week. At any rate, the week so far seems to have been very good one for classic film buffs.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

James Noble R.I.P.

James Noble, who played the governor on the sitcom Benson as well as many roles on stage, died on March 28 2016 at the age of 94.

James Noble was born on March 5 1922 in Dallas. He studied both engineering and drama at Southern Methodist University for a time before serving in the United States Navy during World War II. Following the war he studied acting at he Actor's Studio in New York. He served as an assistant stage manager on The Big Knife on Broadway in 1949 before making his acting debut on Broadway in The Velvet Glove later that year. He made his television debut in an episode of The Actor's Studio in 1950.

In the Fifties James Noble had a recurring role on the soap opera The Brighter Day and guest starred on Studio One. In the Sixties he was a regular on the soap opera The Doctors. He had recurring roles on the daytime serials As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, and A World Apart. He guest starred on East Side/West Side, The Defenders, Directions, and Coronet Blue. He made his film debut in What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968). He appeared on Broadway in A Far Country and Strange Interlude.

Beginning in the Seventies James Noble played the absent minded Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling on Benson. He played the role from 1979 to 1986. He guest starred on McCloud, The Addams Chronicles, The Andros Targets, Starsky and Hutch, and Hart To Hart. He had recurring roles on the soap operas One Life to Live and Another World. He appeared in the films The Sporting Club (1971), Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (1971), 1776 (1972), Who? (1973), Dragonfly (1976), Death Play (1976), 10 (1979), Promises in the Dark (1979), and Being There (1979). He appeared on Broadway in The Runner Stumbles.

In the Eighties James Noble continued to appear on Benson. He was a regular on the short lived series First Impressions. He guest starred on such shows as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Faerie Tale Theatre, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, The Bill, and Murder, She Wrote. He appeared in the films Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), A Tiger's Tale (1987), You Talkin' to Me? (1987), Paramedics (1988), and Chances Are (1989).

In the Nineties he guest starred on such shows as Law & Order, Harry, City Central, and Where the Heart Is. He appeared in the film Bang (1995). In the Naughts he appeared in the film Glacier Bay (2006)  and guest starred on The Royal. In the Teens he appeared in the films Consequential Lies (2011) and Fake (2011).

James Noble was brilliant as Eugene X. Gatling on Benson, the kind hearted but scatter brained governor. Indeed, it is hard picturing any other actor in the role. Of course, Mr. Noble played many other sorts of roles. In fact, throughout his career he was cast as medical doctors in everything from Promises in the Dark to Chances Are. A good number of his guest appearance on television were as, well, doctors. That having been said, he played much more than doctors. He was the priest Father O'Flanagan in Airplane II: The Sequel, the President's Chief of Staff in Being There, and even important figures in American history (Jonathan Sewell in the mini-series The Addams Chronicles and Thomas Jefferson in the TV movie Equal Justice Under Law). Throughout his career James Noble played a wide variety of roles.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Guy Hamilton Passes On

Guy Hamilton, perhaps best known for directing the James Bond movies Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), died on April 20 2016 at the age of 93.

Guy Hamilton was born on September 16 1922 in Paris. His father was a press attaché to the British Embassy in France. When he was still a lad he became a fan of the cinema and as a teenager worked as a clapperboard boy at the Victorine Studios in Nice among other jobs. He served as an apprentice to the director Julien Duvivier. When World War II started he returned to England and worked for the film library at Paramount News. He eventually joined the British Royal Navy. He served as part of the 15th Motor Gunboat Flotilla.

It was following the war that he started working as an assistant director, his first credit being They Made Me a Fugitive in 1947. In the late Forties and the early Fifties he served as an assistant director on Carol Reed's films The Fallen Idol (1948), The Third Man (1949), and Outcast of the Islands (1951), as well as on the films Anna Karenina (1948), Britannia Mews (1949), The Angel with the Trumpet (1950), State Secret (1950), The African Queen (1951), and Home at Seven (1952).

Guy Hamilton made his directorial debut with The Ringer in 1952. In the Fifties he directed the films The Intruder (1953), An Inspector Calls (1954), The Colditz Story (1955), Charley Moon (1956), Manuela (1957), The Devil's Disciple (1959), and A Touch of Larceny (1959). He co-wrote the screenplays for The Colditz Story, Manuela, and A Touch of Larceny.

It was in the Sixties that Guy Hamilton first became involved with the James Bond franchise. He was offered the chance to direct Dr. No (1962), but turned it down as he was not able to then leave Britain. Fortunately, he was able to accept the assignment for Goldfinger (1964). Goldfinger was not the only spy movie Mr. Hamilton directed during the Sixties. He also directed the Harry Palmer movie Funeral in Berlin (1965). Guy Hamilton also directed the controversial The Party's Over. Ultimately the film was so severely cut at the request of the British Board of Film Censors that Guy Hamilton asked to have his name removed from the film in protest. During the Sixties Guy Hamilton also directed the war movies The Best of Enemies (1961), Man in the Middle (1964), and Battle of Britain (1969).

In the Seventies Guy Hamilton returned to the James Bond franchise with Diamonds Are Forever (1971). He directed two more Bond films, Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man With the Golden Gun (1974). In the Seventies he also directed Force 10 from Navarone (1978) and Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd (1980).  In the Eighties Guy Hamilton directed Evil Under the Sun (1982), Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), and Try This One for Size (1989).

Arguably Guy Hamilton, along with screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn, invented what we now know as James Bond movies. While Dr. No and From Russia With Love had been released before it, arguably it was Goldfinger that set the pace for the entire franchise. The film featured more gadgets than the previous two Bond movies, as well as more repartee between Bond and M and a greater role for weapons master Q. It also introduced the use of a theme song over the opening credits ("Goldfinger" sung by Dame Shirley Bassey). Guy Hamilton also sped up the action from the previous films and essentially made everything in the film bigger than life. In the end Goldfinger would serve as a template for nearly every Bond movie made since. It should be little wonder that Mr. Hamilton would go on to direct more Bond movies, including two that are, in my humble opinion, among the best of the series (Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun).

Of course, Guy Hamilton directed much more than James Bond movies. He also directed Funeral in Berlin, one of the best spy movies of the Sixties. He had a talent for directing war movies. Both The Colditz Story and Battle of Britain are classics in the genre, while his other war films hold up very well. Guy Hamilton had a knack for directing action films, to the point that even when a particular film wasn't that good (Diamonds Are Forever being a perfect example), they were worth watching for the action scenes alone. Ultimately Guy Hamilton was the director who helped make "James Bond movies" JAMES BOND MOVIES and one who directed some of the best action films of the Fifties and Sixties.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Douglas Wilmer Passes On

Douglas Wilmer, who may have been best known for playing Sherlock Holmes in the BBC's 1964 TV series Sherlock Holmes, died on March 31 at the age of 96.

Douglas Wilmer was born on January 8 1920 in London. He spent a good portion of his childhood in Shanghai, China, where his father worked as an accountant. He attended King's School in Canterbury, and Stonyhurst College. His training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) was interrupted by World War II. He served in the Royal Artillery in West Africa. Eventually he received a medical discharge due to having contracted tuberculosis.

Douglas Wilmer made his stage debut in repertory in Rugby, Warwickshire. In the late Forties and the Fifties he appeared frequently on stage. He made his television debut in 1954 in the BBC production It Is Midnight, Doctor Schweitzer. He made his film debut in 1955 in Lord Laurence Olivier's Richard III. In the Fifties he appeared in recurring roles in the TV series St. Ives, The Black Tulip, Nicholas Nickleby, and The Diary of Samuel Pepys. He guest starred on such shows as The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Count of Monte Cristo, The New Adventures of Charlie Chan, Dial 999, The Invisible Man, BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, Interpol Calling, Armchair Theatre, and Hallmark Hall of Fame. He appeared in the films The Right Person (1955), Passport to Treason (1956), Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956), and An Honourable Murder (1960).

The Sixties would see Douglas Wilmer at the height of his career. It was in 1964 that he first appeared as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series of the same name, playing opposite Nigel Stock as Dr. Watson. Despite being shot on a rather low budget, the show proved very popular in the United Kingdom and left a lasting impression. Even though he only remained with the series for 13 episodes, the Sherlock Holmes Society of London considered Mr. Wilmer to be the definitive Holmes. Douglas Wilmer left the show in 1965. Douglas Wilmer also had a very good film career in the Sixties. He appeared in some very high profile films, playing Moutamin in El Cid (1961), Pelias in Jason and the Argonauts (1964), and Henri LaFarge in A Shot in the Dark (1964).  He played Nayland Smith in Harry Alan Towers's films The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966) and The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967).

In the Sixties Douglas Wilmer also guest starred on such TV shows as On Trial, The Strange World of Gurney Slade, Armchair Theatre, ITV Television Theatre, Ghost Squad, The Saint, The Avengers, The Baron, Journey to the Unknown, and U.F.O. He appeared in the films Cleopatra (1963), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), The Golden Head (1964), One Way Pendulum (1965), Khartoum (1966), Hammerhead (1968), A Nice Girl Like Me (1969), The Reckoning (1970), Patton (1970), Cromwell (1970), and The Vampire Lovers (1970).

In the Seventies Mr. Wilmer reprised his role as Sherlock Holmes in the comedy film The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975). He also appeared in the films Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1971), Journey to Murder (1971), Antony and Cleopatra (1972), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), The Incredible Sarah (1976), Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), and Rough Cut (1980).  He guest starred on such shows as Love Story, The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, The Protectors, Affairs of the Heart, Space: 1999, Romance and ITV Playhouse.

In the Eighties Douglas Wilmer appeared in the films Octopussy (1983) and Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1984). He guest starred on the TV shows Shine On Harvey Moon and Blind Justice. His autobiography, Stage Whispers, was published in 2010. His last screen appearance as in a cameo in the Sherlock episode "The Reichenbach Fall" as an old man at the Diogenes Club.

For many Douglas Wilmer will always be the definitive Sherlock Holmes. There can be no doubt that of the many actors who played the role he was among the best. That having been said, Douglas Wilmer played many other roles throughout his career. Not surprisingly, Douglas Wilmer played a number of similar characters throughout his career. He was Nayland Smith in two Fu Manchu movies. He was Emir Al-Mu'tamin in El Cid. In The Vampire Lovers he played vampire hunter Baron Hartog.Of course, not all of his roles were heroic in nature. In Octopussy he was MI-6's art expert, Fanning. In Unman, Wittering and Zigo he was the headmaster of a school. Douglas Wilmer even played villains on occasion.  Indeed, among his best known roles was that of the villainous Pelias in Jason and the Argonauts. Douglas Wilmer was a fine actor who could play a wide range of roles, and one who was good even when a particular film in which he appeared might not have been.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Late Great Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson, better known simply as Prince, died today at the age of 57. Earlier in the month he had postponed performances due to influenza. On April 15, while flying back to Minneapolis from a show in Atlanta, Georgia, his private plane made an emergency landing at Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois in order for him to receive medical treatment. The cause of his death will not be known until results from an autopsy are announced. 

Prince was born on June 7 1958 in Minneapolis. His father was John L. Nelson, a jazz pianist in the Minneapolis area. He used the stage name "Prince Rogers" and performed as part of the Prince Rogers Trio. His mother was Mattie (née Shaw), a local jazz singer who performed with Mr. Nelson. They divorced in 1966 when Prince was eight years old. Coming from a family of musicians, Prince took to music while very young. He was only seven years old when he wrote his first song, "Funk Machine", on his father's piano. He had already decided to pursue a career in music by the time he was a teenager.

Constantly shifting between the homes of his father and his mother, Prince eventually moved into the home of his neighbours the Anderson family. He became friends with their son, Andre Anderson (who eventually took the name Andre Cymone). Prince and Andre Anderson would eventually join the band Grand Central, for whom Prince's cousin Charles Smith was the drummer. Charles Smith would later be replaced by Morris Day, who would later become famous as part of The Time. Grand Central would eventually rename themselves "Champagne" to avoid confusion with the group Grand Central Station.

It was in 1975 that Pepe Willie, the husband of one of Prince's cousins, formed the band 94 East. Both Prince and Andre Cymone would serve as session musicians for the band. It was in 1976 that Champagne started recording at Moonsound Studio, a small studio owned by Chris Moon. Chris Moon noticed Prince's talent and offered him a deal: if Prince collaborated with him on songs then Prince could have as much free recording time as he desired. In 1976 Prince created a demo tape of  four songs he had created at Moonsound.

It was later in 1976 that Chris Moon introduced Prince to Owen Husney, an owner of a small advertising agency in Minneapolis who also managed musicians. Owen Husney signed Prince to a management contract. In December 1976 Mr. Husney booked Prince in Sound 80 studios in Minneapolis to record a new demo tape. Owen Husney then created a press kit to send with the demo tape to the various recording companies. Ultimately A&M, ABC/Dunhill, CBS, RSO, Warner Bros., and yet other companies expressed interest in Prince.

It was on June 25 1977 that Prince signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. The contact stipulated that Prince was to record three albums over which he would have complete creative control. Prince's debut album, For You, was released  April 7 1978. Not only did Prince produce the record, but he also arranged and composed every song on the album except for "Soft and Wet", which was co-written with Chris Moon. He also played every single instrument on the album. His first single, "Soft and Wet", peaked at no. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 and no. 12 on the Hot Soul Singles chart.

It was on October 19 1979 that Prince's second album, Prince, was released. The album would produce Prince's first hit single. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" hit number one on the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at number 11 on the Hot 100. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" was followed by the single "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?". It peaked at no. 13 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. The album itself peaked at no. 22 on the Billboard albums chart.

Prince's third album, Dirty Mind, would not do as well on the Billboard album chart as Prince. Released on October 8 1980, it only peaked at no. 45. That having been said, it arguably set the stage for the rest of Prince's career. The album was stylistically diverse, with songs that could be considered funk ("Dirty Mind"), ballads ("Gotta Broken Heart Again"), dance ("Uptown"), and new wave (When You Were Mine"). Dirty Mind also ventured further into sexuality than most funk or R&B artists ever had before. Indeed, the song "Head" and especially the song "Sister" dealt with subjects that were very nearly taboo when the album was released on October 8 1980. While Dirty Mind was well known for it salaciousness, songs on the album did explore other subjects. "Uptown" dealt with prejudice and societal expectations. "Partyup"had anti-war overtones.

Prince followed Dirty Mind with the album Controversy, released on October 14 1981. Along with Dirty Mind, Controversy would define much of the course of Prince's career. While Dirty Mind was known for its sheer lasciviousness, Controversy took a more intellectual approach. The title track addressed everything from questions surrounding Prince's sexuality to questions surrounding his religious beliefs. "Ronnie, Talk to Russia" was a plea to the newly elected Ronald Reagan to make peace with the U.S.S.R. The song "Annie Christian" addressed violence, guns, and religion all in one song. Of course, Controversy also contained sex songs, such as "Jack U Off". Like Dirty Mind before it, Controversy continued Prince's stylistic diversification. "Controversy" was pure funk. "Do Me, Baby" was a lengthy ballad. "Private Joy" was bubblegum. "Jack U Off" drew upon rockabilly for inspiration. Controversy sold very well. It peaked at no. 21 on the Billboard  albums chart.

It was also in 1981 that Prince formed the funk band The Time as a side project. The Time was largely built upon a Minneapolis band called Flyte Time, to which Prince added lead singer Morris Day, guitarist Jesse Johnson, and musician and comedian Jerome Benton. Prince wrote many of The Time's early songs and even played every single instrument on The Time's first album. He also produced their first three albums.

Prince's fifth album would also turn out to be his breakthrough with regards to mainstream music. 1999 was a double album released on October 27 1982. It proved to be Prince's highest charting album yet, going all the way to no. 9 on the Billboard albums chart (which also made it his first top ten album). It produced three hit singles. The title track peaked at no. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, while "Little Red Corvette" peaked at no. 6 and "Delirious" at no. 8. The album also saw Prince expand his subject matter beyond sex. "1999" itself touched upon the subject of Armageddon, while "Free" dealt with patriotism and  "Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)" touched up on computers. Stylistically the album ranged from funk to New Wave.

By the mid-Eighties Prince had already seen a good deal of success as a recording artist. It was in 1984 that he would see success in film as well. Purple Rain was made on a budget of  $7.2 million and shot mostly in Minneapolis. The movie did fairly well at the box office, making $68 million. Its soundtrack album proved to be Prince's most successful record up to that point. Released on June 25 1984, about a month ahead of the film, it went all the way to the no. 1 spot on the Billboard albums chart. It also produced several hit singles, including the no. 1 singles "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy", a well as the title track (which peaked at no. 2), "I Would Die 4 U" (which peaked at no. 8), and "Take Me with U" (which went to no. 25). Arguably, Purple Rain marked the height of Prince's success. Unfortunately, while Prince would see continued success as a music artist, Purple Rain would be his only success in film despite further attempts.

Prince followed the success of Purple Rain with the album Around the World in a Day. The album was released with minimal publicity and its first single ("Raspberry Beret") was not released until a month after the album's release. Despite this Around the World in a Day went to no. 1 on the Billboard albums chart. It also produced the hit singles "Raspberry Beret" (which peaked at no. 2) and"Pop Life" (which peaked at no. 8). Around the World in a Day marked further development in Prince's style. The album was widely considered "psychedelic" and often compared to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. While Prince dismissed comparisons to The Beatles, he did acknowledged that he thought the album could be considered psychedelic.
Around the World in a Day was followed by the album Parade, an album which also served as the soundtrack album to his film Under the Cherry Moon (more on it later). It was released on March 31 1986. While both Purple Rain and Around the World in a Day went to no. 1 on the Billboard albums chart, Parade peaked at no. 3. Parade did produce several hit singles, including number one "Kiss" as well as "Mountains" (which went to no. 23).

It was with Sign o' the Times that Prince's career went into a very slight decline. Sign o' the Times peaked at no. 6, although it did produce three hit singles. Lovesexy peaked at no. 11 and produced only one hit single. Batman, the soundtrack to the 1989 film of the same name, performed much better. It hit no. 1 on the Billboard album chart and produced the hits "Batdance" and "Partyman". Prince would end the Eighties with Graffiti Bridge, the soundtrack to the film of the same name. While the film would not do well (more on that later), the album peaked at no. 6 and produced the hit "Thieves in the Temple".

Prince began the Nineties with the album Diamonds and Pearls, which peaked at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album provided Prince with another no. 1 single, "Cream". The success of Diamonds and Pearls was followed by an album that bore only an unpronounceable symbol as a name, but generally called The Love Symbol Album. The Love Symbol Album also proved successful, peaking at no. 5 on the Billboard album chart.  The Love Symbol Album was followed by Come, which peaked at no. 15 on the album chart.

By the early Nineties Prince found himself at odds with Warner Bros. In an act of rebellion against the label Prince insisted that he be referred to only by an unpronounceable symbol (more or less the same as the one that appeared on The Love Symbol Album). Prince became known as "the Artist Formerly Known as Prince". Prince also began releasing albums much more frequently in order to sooner fulfil his contractual obligations to Warner Bros.

Unfortunately the albums Prince released while he was using the Love Symbol would perform increasingly more and more poorly on the charts. The Black Album, the first album on which he used the symbol, only peaked at no. 47. Chaos and Disorder and Emancipation (which featured Prince's covers of songs originated by other artists) would perform somewhat better, with the latter actually making it to no. 11 on the Billboard album chart.  Prince's last release on Warner Bros. would be The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale.

In 1999 Prince signed with Arista Record. It was on that label that his album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic was released on November 9 1999. It was in 2000, not long after  his publishing contract with Warner/Chappell ended, that Prince returned to using his name "Prince". Starting in 2000 much of Prince's music was released through his website NPG Music Club. NPG Music Club continued until 2006.

Throughout the Naughts and the Teens Prince released several successful albums, including Musicology (which went to no. 3),  3121 (which went to number one), Planet Earth (which went to no. 3), and Lotusflow3r / MPLSound (which went to no. 2). Both   Plectrumelectrum and Art Official Age reached the top ten of the Billboard albums chart. Hit n Run Phase Two, the final album released while Prince was alive, came out in December of last year.

Over the years Prince produced other artists and even served a a mentor to some. Over the years Prince produced records by André Cymone, Sheila E, Madhouse, Jill Jones, Chaka Khan, Sheena Easton, Patti LaBelle, and yet others. Prince's songs were recorded by artists as diverse as Alicia Keys ("“How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore"), The Bangles ("Manic Monday"), Cyndi Lauper ("When You Were Mine"),  Sinead O’Connor (“Nothing Compares 2 U“), and Stevie Nicks ("Stand Back").

In addition to his musical career Prince also had a bit of a film career, although he saw little success in movies beyond Purple Rain. Under the Cherry Moon, released in 1986, did poorly at the box office and received bad notices from critics. The film marked Prince's directorial debut. In 1990 Graffiti Bridge, a semi-sequel to Purple Rain was released. Graffiti Bridge also did poorly at the box office and faired badly with critics. It was also directed by Prince.

Over the years Prince would perform on several different shows, from The Tonight Show to Saturday Night Live. He guest starred on Muppets Tonight in 1997 and New Girl in 2014.

I was only a teenager when I first discovered Prince. It was with his album Dirty Mind, a bit before he would break into the mainstream. At the time much of the appeal of Prince for me was the fact that he would sing about things only a few other artists ever had before (namely, graphic sex). Of course, by the time Controversy was released Prince had expanded well beyond singing about sex and love. As the years passed the subject matter of Prince's songs would expand and his music would grow more sophisticated. And as I grew older I was able to appreciate the evolution of Prince's music. As I grew older I was even able to realise that there was much more to his early work than sheer salaciousness.

Quite simply, Prince could well have been the most sophisticated artist to emerge from the Eighties. With regards to genres he seemed difficult to pin down. Certainly much of his early work, as well as much of his music throughout his career, could be considered funk. That having been said, it was very early in his career that he began recording songs that could be considered New Wave, rock, pop, and R&B. Ultimately Prince would venture into genres as diverse as power pop and jazz. Indeed, at times Prince would blend disparate styles into one song.  Not surprisingly, the influences on Prince were diverse: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Miles Davis, James Brown, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Sly Stone, George Clinton, David Bowie, Curtis Mayfield, and many others.

Of course, it was not enough that Prince seemingly transcended genres. He was both a great songwriter and a great musician capable of playing multiple instruments. On his debut album alone he played 27 different instruments. He also a very good vocalist with an impressive range. Over the years Prince was quick to adapt to new technology, adopting drum machines and synthesisers very early in his career.

Ultimately Prince would have a lasting impact on multiple genres of music. Artists as diverse as Alicia Keys, Beck, Maroon 5, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae, and even Muse owe a debt to him.  He is one of the very few artists to emerge after the Sixties to have an influence on rock, R&B,rap, and yet other genres.  It should come as no surprise, then, that Prince leaves behind a whole catalogue of songs that are still frequently played on the radio. "1999", "Little Red Corvette", 'Purple Rain", "Raspberry Beret", and yet other songs are still heard frequently. What is more, Prince's songs are still frequently covered by various artists. Ultimately, it seems possible that Prince might be the most influential music artist to emerge from the Eighties. While other artists from the decade might eventually be forgotten, I doubt he ever will.