Long ago, in a mythical place known as Minneapolis, a baby named Prince Rogers Nelson was born. The ancient texts don’t mention whether he came out wielding a guitar and wailing in a dolphin-like falsetto (but it’s safe to assume he did).

Notes on the life of the Kempt Icon—plus the single he released today…

It’s hard to know where to start with Prince. Do you talk up his musical talents, like the multi-octave vocal range, or the fact that he played all 27 instruments on For You by himself? Or do you skip to the staggering sense of theatricality, which extends from his full-on live shows to not one but two feature films (Purple Rain and Under the Cherry Moon)? Maybe you just casually drop that he’s sold well over 100 million records worldwide, or note that the list of ladies he’s had on his arm includes Kim Basinger, Madonna, Carmen Electra and Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks). Your call, really.

Now, we’re not going to sit back and tell you to cop Prince’s cravat-and-blouse-heavy sense of style, or suggest that a pencil mustache would do wonders for your overall aesthetic. But there is one thing you can learn from Mr. Nelson, and that’s an indefatigable sense of swagger, purpose and steely resolve.

Everything Prince has done, he’s done on his own terms. Follow up the smash-hit Purple Rain with a befuddling, pseudo-period piece in which he plays a jazz pianist/gigolo (that would be the aforementioned Cherry Moon)? Done. Change your name to an unpronounceable symbol and release a series of challenge, ahem, “challenging” jazz-fusion albums? Yup. Most recently, in response to the rising popularity of digital music, Prince shut down his official website and refuses to release any new music to digital services, because he doesn’t need them—they need him.

Young icons, running defiantly against the grain, take heart. Don’t ever stop doing what you believe in—do it with an iron resolve and a pair of magnificent bespoke chaps.

Doves will cry.

—A.H.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Alex Heigl