Good afternoon readers! This week’s Famously Unknown is a special one for me. Not only is our person of interest a fellow Minnesotan, but he is also an idol for artists & musicians worldwide. He dedicated his life to art, and in the end he became a work of art himself.
To begin, lets go back 60 years to 1956. To a small little jazz bar in Minneapolis, MN. And to John Nelson, a jazz musician enjoying the show and the crowd. Was John aware that he would meet his future wife that night? Well, no one really knows, but 30 years later, Minnesotans would be eternally grateful that he did.
That’s right, in that crowded little jazz bar in Minneapolis, keyboardist John Nelson met singer Mattie Shaw, and soon afterward they were married.
Their son came along two years later on June 7th 1958. A child that showed an incredible natural ability in many areas of art and music. So talented was he, that he quickly taught himself how to play piano, guitar and drums. However, all of this talent did not change the fact that the shy boy had been born with Epilepsy. He soon faced an onslaught of bullying at school and when the topic was brought up at home, his parents were at a loss for how to help him. This small, quiet boy looked inward, at his passion and talent for music, and he decided that a new personality was exactly what he needed to once and for all silence those that were teasing him.
Later in life he would be quoted to say that this new “Flashy” personality was the seed that eventually grew into his iconic persona; admired and beloved by fans the world over. So effective was this new personality, that the son of John Nelson was signed to Warner Bros Records in 1978; at the young age of 20.
Following this, our young star went on to win a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, 7 Grammies, and countless other awards. By this time, did anyone even remember the shy, awkward boy with Epilepsy? So dedicated to his craft and his confidence, that no one would suspect such humble beginnings.
So who was this musical genius? A man that gave more than he took, and who is known to have always given credit where credit is due.
And a man named after his father’s own stage name; Prince Rogers.
That’s right, the meek boy who decided he would have unlimited confidence in himself, despite his Epilepsy, despite his bullying, and despite his setbacks, became The Artist formerly known as Prince.
So the next time you hear Purple Rain, take a moment and think… if one little boy with Epilepsy could transform himself into Prince… then how far will YOU decide to fly?