‘Fury’ Helps Prince Land His Final No. 1 Album
Nobody will argue that Prince loved the ladies. But how he treated them was a hot topic throughout his life. For You was released in 1978 and it took until 2006’s 3121 for him to learn one very important lesson: "There ain’t no fury like a woman scorned.”
Which woman could have inspired the lyrics to “Fury,” the album’s third single? While the secret, which could be considered his own version of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” likely died with Prince, the lineup of suspects could wrap around the block.
Prince’s sexual exploits were always the stuff of legend, as were his legendary lovers. So our first lineup would include romantic interests from within the Prince universe (Vanity, Susan Moonise and Susannah Melvoin) and beyond (Madonna, Kim Basinger, Susanna Hoffs and Sherilyn Fenn). Next we have the women in his band (Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin, Sheila E., Cat, Rosie Gaines – at the time of the crime, Prince’s all-woman band, 3rdEyeGirl, was still a twinkle in his eye).
Next there are the stars of his countless side projects (Jill Jones through Tamar). And finally, his wives, Mayte Garcia (1996-1999) and Manuela Testolini (2001-2006). The latter, one would guess, is the prime suspect as their divorce likely occurred around the time of the song’s recording. The line itself is a nod to a William Congreve play, The Mourning Bride, from 1697: "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."
But not so fast… before casting your vote, listen to the lyrics. “He got a message saying, U tried 2 reach him on the phone… U must have heard he got another band. They’re making $, they’re making plans.”
Could this song be about the breakup of the Revolution 20 years prior? In 1987, as Wendy and Lisa launched their career as a duo, Wendy Melvoin responded this way when asked by the Los Angeles Times if they still spoke to Prince: “He's here in L.A. in the studio. We've tried to talk to him but we keep missing each other." Lisa Coleman added, “We'd like to talk to him more. We miss him. It's a shame things turned out this way." Furious? Maybe not. "We weren't upset," Melvoin said at the time. "It just took some getting used to, since working with Prince had been such a big part of our lives for so many years.”
When it came time for Prince to perform at the 2006 Brit Awards, Wendy and Lisa surprised the world by joining him onstage for a scorching performance that included “Te Amo Corazon” and “Fury,” along with “Purple Rain” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” The 12-minute set, which also included Sheila E., kicked off a short-lived Revolution-era reunion that resulted in Wendy and Lisa contributing to select tracks on Prince’s next album, Planet Earth.
Wendy and Lisa were always great inspirations to Prince. Their friendship and talents helped Prince grow as a person and musician. Their partnership resulted in some of the most exciting music of Prince’s career. Prince often referred to adults of the opposite sex, not as equals, but as girls (“Girl”, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” “Girls & Boys”) when he was in love, and worse when he was on the prowl (“Irresistible Bitch,” “Hot Thing,” “Scarlet Pussy,” “Sexy MF”). But back in 1985, at the height of the Wendy and Lisa era, “Temptation” closes Around the World in a Day when Prince tells God, “I’m sorry. I’ll be good. This time I promise. Love is more important than sex, now I understand.”
But a year later, he pushed Wendy and Lisa away. Twenty years on, he welcomed them back, using the word “woman” in his Jimi Hendrix-style musical life lesson, along with an olive branch, perhaps to Wendy and Lisa: “U feel left out but U need to understand, word on the street, he’s still UR man.”
Musically, “Fury” helped lead Prince back to the top the world and the top spot on the Billboard 200. When 3121 bowed at No. 1, little did we know it would be the last No. 1 album of his lifetime.
Prince: 40 Years of Photographs, 1977-2016