On this day in music history: September 24, 1982 - “1999” by Prince is released. Written and produced by Prince, it is the eleventh single release for the singer, songwriter, musician and producer from Minneapolis, MN. Written about “a party at the end of world”, the lyrics touch on widespread fears of the escalation of “The Cold War”, and the impending threat of global thermal nuclear war between the United States and the then Soviet Union (Russia). The song’s message encourages listeners to enjoy the time we do have, best expressed in the lyric “life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last”. The somewhat dark undercurrent present in the lyrics are masked by the exuberant, funky track, with its point being missed by many who only viewed it as a party song. One of the last songs recorded for the album, the basic tracks are recorded at Prince’s home studio on Kiowa Trail (“The Purple House”) in Chanhassen, MN in late July/early August of 1982. The song features Prince sharing lead vocals with band members Lisa Coleman, Jill Jones, and Dez Dickerson. Initially, he had planned for everyone to sing the entire song in unison, but during mixing of the single he hits upon the idea of having them sing lines on their own then all together on the chorus. The songs music video is directed by Bruce Gowers (Queen, Michael Jackson), and is shot at the Minneapolis Armory (with the full stage set up) during rehearsals for the “Triple Threat Tour”. It is one of three promotional clips filmed that week along with “Automatic” and “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”. The single is backed with the non album B-side “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore”. Featuring Prince singing lead and background vocals to his own piano accompanyment, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 26, 1982. “How Come” is included on the compilation “The Hits/B-sides” in 1993, and on the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s film “Girl 6” in 1996. “1999” peaks at #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in December of 1982 also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on December 4, 1982, and initially peaking at number #44 on the Hot 100. After the top ten chart success of “Little Red Corvette”, Warner Bros re-promotes “1999” at US top 40 pop radio in the late Spring of 1983. It re-enters the Hot 100, and peak at #12 on July 23, 1983. Prince re-records “1999” in late 1998, releasing it on his NPG Records imprint (as a seven track EP) after Warner Bros reissues the original version. The original re-charts again, peaking at #40 on the Hot 100 on January 16, 1999, with the remake peaking at #58 on the R&B album chart, and #150 on the Top 200 on February 20, 1999.
In August 1990 Kash and I saw a mark on Freddie’s foot. It was Kaposi’s sarcoma. [α мαℓιgиαит тυмσυя σf тнє ¢σииє¢тινє тιѕѕυє σfтєи αѕѕσ¢ιαтє∂ ωιтн αι∂ѕ]. “Kash asked what it was, whether it was getting better. Freddie said: ‘You have to understand that what I have is terminal. I’m going to die.’ That was it. He didn’t say it was Aids. It didn’t register immediately. We were driving home and I put a cassette on, and of all the things it was FREDDIE singing WHO WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER? That suddenly brought home the significance of what he had said.”
On this day in music history: August 11, 1982 - “Vanity 6”, the debut album by Vanity 6 is released. Produced by Prince (aka “The Starr Company”), it is recorded at Kiowa Trail Home Studio in Chanhassen, MN and Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA from July - August 1981, March - April 1982. Having toured with and having had a sometimes contentious rivalry with musician Rick James, Prince decides to put together a girl group, after seeing James’ female background vocalists The Mary Jane Girls. Originally dubbed “The Hookers”, Prince pairs his then girlfriend Denise Matthews (aka “Vanity”) together with his former girlfriend Susan Moonsie and wardrobe mistress Brenda Bennett, forming the group. Prince’s personal assistant Jamie Shoop is initially intended to be the third member, but is dropped from the group after he meets and begins a relationship with Matthews. Ironically she had dated Rick James before Prince. The female vocal trio is created as another outlet for Prince’s prolific songwriting output, though the songs are credited to the individual group members. Initially, three songs are cut for the project in the Summer and Fall of 1981 before stopping to embark on the Controversy Tour. The remaining five songs are recorded during March and April of 1982. Playing most of the instruments himself, Prince also enlists assistance from band mate Dez Dickerson and Time members Jesse Johnson and Terry Lewis who also co-write songs. The albums initial single, “He’s So Dull” (later featured in “National Lampoon’s Vacation”) fails to make an impact, and is quickly followed up with “Nasty Girl” in September of 1982. The sexually provocative and funky track becomes an immediate smash on club dance floors, and on R&B radio. The song is later featured in the Spike Lee directed film “Girl 6” in 1996. Original vinyl and cassette copies of the album feature labels that read “Side 1 and Side 6” instead of 1 and 2. It spins off four singles including “Nasty Girl” (#7 R&B, #1 Club Play, #101 Pop), “Bite The Beat” and “Drive Me Wild”. “Wild”, initially released as the B-side of “Nasty Girl”, receives significant play on radio and in clubs, prompting Prince to remix and extend (while concurrently remixing his own “Little Red Corvette”) the originally two and a half minute track to over an seven minute work out. Adding a funky rhythm guitar and stinging solo lead, it is released as a 12" and edited 7" in March of 1983. Part of the initial press run of the US LP come with a 18 x 22" poster of the group (taken by photographer Allen Beaulieu), that becomes a rare and coveted collector’s item. Originally released on CD in 1988, the album has been out of print since the mid 90’s, commanding a premium price on the collector’s market due to its enduring popularity, also being heavily bootlegged as a result. “Vanity 6” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty five on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.