Top 11 Prince Stories From 2021
Issues regarding the late-singer's estate, including the proper valuation of his assets, remained a major topic. So too did Prince's extensive vault of unreleased material, some of which saw the light of day for the first time with the release of Welcome 2 America.
A Prince-inspired comic book character made its debut this year. Meanwhile, multiple notable contributors to the musician's career passed away. These stories and more can be found below in our roundup of the biggest Prince stories of 2021.
Prince Estate Battles the IRS Over Valuation
The Prince estate spent much of the year locked in a legal battle over the valuation of the late singer’s assets. In January, the IRS claimed that the administrator's of Prince's estate devalued the late star's assets by more than $80 million. As a result, the estate's tax bill was increased by $32.4 million, with an additional $6.4 million tacked on as an "accuracy-related penalty" due to the "substantial" difference in figures. A trial date had been scheduled for March 2022, but the two sides reportedly reached a settlement in December.
‘Welcome 2 America’
Prince's previously unreleased 2010 studio album Welcome 2 America was finally released in 2021. Its arrival marked the first complete album of unreleased material from Prince's vault since his 2016 death. The LP featured 11 original songs -- including “Hot Summer,” “Born 2 Die” and the title track -- as well as a cover of Soul Asylum's 2006 single "Stand Up and Be Strong."
Prince Spotlighted on '60 Minutes'
In April, a portion of the long-running news program 60 Minutes was dedicated to Prince, his legacy and the then-upcoming release of Welcome 2 America. The segment included interviews with many of the Purple One’s collaborators and offered insights into his business and recording practices. Among the highlights, the secret to Prince’s guitar solos and the revelation that he “forgot the password” to his legendary vault of music (a safecracker would later be used to access the vault).
'Purple Rain' Actor Clarence Williams III Dies
Clarence Williams III, who starred alongside Prince in the film Purple Rain, died in June at the age of 81. The well-travelled actor found success on stage and screen, earning a Tony nomination in 1965 and later finding fame playing Lincoln "Linc" Hayes on the TV show The Mod Squad. Still, it’s his work on Purple Rain that Prince fans will remember the most. Williams played the physically and emotionally abusive father of the Kid in the 1984 classic.
Prince ‘Partyman’ in Batman Comic Book
When DC Comics announced Batman ‘89 -- a new limited series that serves as continuation of the Tim Burton-directed Batman films -- fans noticed a distinctive character in the early sketches. The illustration was inspired by Prince’s persona in the music video for “Partyman,” one of several tunes he penned for the 1989 film.
Sheila E. Announces a Biopic About Her Time With Prince
In a post to Facebook, percussionist Sheila E. announced an exciting new project. "Coming soon...Sheila E. to release Girl Meets Boy, a film telling the beautiful story of her time with Prince. Stay Tuned. 💜" The Musicians shared a long history together, first becoming friends in the late ‘70s, before collaborating and touring together in the ‘80s. Sheila E. sang on Prince’s song “Erotic City,” while the Purple One wrote her hit songs “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre.” The two also dated during the ‘80s. Needless to say, a biopic chronicling the two’s history would undoubtedly be a must-watch for Prince fans, but further details since E.’s announcement have been scarce.
Record Label Executive Who Signed Prince Dies
Russ Thyret, a former top executive at Warner Bros. Records and the man who signed Prince to the label, died in February at the age of 76. “Russ was a man of great instinct and heart,” Owen Husney, Prince’s first manager once noted. “When other labels were taking us to fabulous restaurants to get us to sign, Russ drove us to his house, where we’d sit on the floor, listen to music and he’d explain the business to us. He gave of himself 1000% and that meant the world from two neophytes from Minneapolis.”
New Edit of Prince’s Rock HOF Performance
It’s regarded as one of the most transcendent performances in Rock & Roll Hall of Fame history. In 2004, Prince joined Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Steve Winwood for an all-star rendition of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The Purple One shone brightest during the tune, delivering a blistering solo and wailing away on his guitar. In 2021, a new edit of the performance was uploaded to YouTube, featuring previously unseen footage and camera angles. The result was a cleaner, more accurate presentation, giving fans an even closer look at the mesmerizing performance.
‘The Truth’ Gets First Vinyl Release
Originally released in 1998 as a companion piece to Crystal Ball, The Truth was finally released on vinyl for the first time in 2021. The album was a stripped-down, almost entirely acoustic effort, allowing Prince to show yet another artistic side. The songs also struck a personal tone, influenced by the musician’s name change, artistic independence, marriage and the tragedy of his son’s death. The 2021 vinyl release of The Truth was well received, with the album ranking No. 1 on Discogs' end-of-year sales report.
Prince’s White Dove Dies
Divinity, a female white dove once owned by Prince and kept at the Paisley Park complex, died in February at the age of 28. "Divinity’s beautiful coo has welcomed visitors since Paisley Park first opened its gates to the public in October 2016," the Executive Director of Paisley Park said via statement. “She was one of the enduring links to Prince for thousands of fans. She will be missed.”
'Let's Go Crazy' in 'Sing 2'
Prince has been covered by a wide rang of artists over the years, and in 2021, Meena the elephant and Johnny the gorilla added their names to the list. The characters in Sing 2 -- voices by Tori Kelly and Taron Egerton, respectively -- teamed up for a rendition of the classic track "Let's Go Crazy." The animated film was a box office success grossing more than $144 million worldwide.