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Prince's Love Symbol Moniker

Posted by Billyjam, November 13, 2012 07:32am | Post a Comment
As an artist the multi-talented Prince has always marched to his own beat. Of the many unique and unprecedented things he has done in his long and illustrious career was two decades ago when he changed his name a newly created symbol. 1993 was when he officially changed his name to that unpronounceable symbol that was dubbed "Love Symbol #2" since it coincided with the copyrighted title/symbol of the Prince and The New Power Generation's 1992 album of the same name/symbol (the symbol was engraved into the actual CD case in gold on the outside and silver on the inside of case cover).

As well as being the work of a tirelessly creative mind it was also Prince's way of getting a dig in at his record label (Warner Brothers) who he made it well known he was quite unhappy with. Disgruntled with his contract and wanting to get out of it, he was further aggravated when he discovered that he could not do so. However when he realized he could contractually change his name, this he did as a sort of revenge act. Prince used that symbol, which was a combination the symbols for female () and for male (), up until he finally got out of his Warner contract seven years later.

However the change from word to unheard of (and unpronounceable) symbol presented a headache for his label and a problem for many at the time including radio DJs, record store clerks, and journalists who did not have this unique character on their keyboard in their computer. Hence his label's publicity department sent out floppy disks (like the one pictured below) with a custom font of the unique symbol attached. However most journalists ignored using it altogether as it was troublesome for use in most computers at the time. Instead they called it "Love Symbol" or "Love Symbol #2" - as in the 1992 album that the symbol first appeared on.

Meanwhile most writers (and fans) referred to the symbol and the artist as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" as well as simply just "The Artist." Many continued just calling him Prince. UK DJ Andy Smith of Portishead fame, who was working at a record store at the time, told me that, "I remember working in HMV and having to type out the plastic artist divider cards and got to 'Symbol'. Had to put TAFKAP. Remember thinking it was a pretty dumb thing to do but here we are still talking about it!" Meanwhile my fellow WFMU DJ Dan Bodah (Airborne Event on Mondays) recalled, "I totally remember getting the symbol at our college daily newspaper for use in articles about the paisley-ed one." 

In May 2000 the artist went back to using the name Prince after his Warner Brothers contract finally (and to his great relief) had expired. But the impact of his name change lived on. Even in very recent years Prince fans are still trying to obtain the unique character. On the Prince "online fan community" website one fan asked on a message board: "Does anyone know of a place I can get the prince symbol as a text file? I'd really like to have it so I can update my iTunes Prince info accordingly?" The answer she got was "No."  In fact you go to iTunes now the the releases when the artist's name was the symbol such as 1995's The Gold Experience iTunes lists his name as "Prince." Similarly the Amoeba.com shop lists such Prince-as-symbol era releases as 1994's Come with "Prince" as the artist. However on iTunes the 1992 Prince & The New Power Generation album title shows up as "O(+>"

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Prince & The New Power Generation (1), Prince (44), Dan Bodah (1), Andy Smith (1), Wfmu (26)