Nobody is arguing that Prince was not a great artist. Some of the songs he gave to the music industry will go down in history as a stepping stone to make it what it is today.
However, although Prince is credited for such great work, not all of it has been given the credit that it should have. Although Prince has a huge volume of work, he also contributed to several great, industry shaping songs throughout the 80s and 90s – often under a pseudonym.
In this article, we dig deeper in the other works of Prince and the songs that he secretly, and not so secretly, was responsible for.
Here’s our top 11:
1. ‘Manic Monday’ (The Bangles, 1986)
Originally written in 1984, The Bangles first smash hit ‘Manic Monday’ was actually written by Prince. He originally wrote the song for the musical trio he created by the name of Apollonia 6 in 1984.
Manic Monday never made it to the studio for Apollonia 6 as Prince didn’t think the group was fully up to the task, and soon lost interest in the band as a project. They dissolved in 1985. Soon after this, Prince thought the Bangles would do the song better justice and let them use it instead.
He is credited on the song under the pseudonym ‘Christopher’.
2. ‘I Feel For You’ (Chaka Khan, 1984)
Another classic hit from the 80’s. Chaka Khan’s ‘I Feel For You’ won Best R&B song at the 1985 Grammy’s. Despite being usually attributed to one of Chaka Khan’s creations, the song was originally made by Prince. He even performed it too.
I Feel For You appears on Prince’s self-titled album of 1979. The song was originally written for Patrice Rushen. Prince gave it to the Pointer Sisters in 1982, but it was Chaka Khan that really gave the song a voice in 1984. It has since been covered by Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake during their Disney Club years, and most recently in 2016 by Jess Glynne.
3. ‘Love… Thy Will Be Done’ (Martika, 1991)
Again, in true Prince fashion, Love… Thy Will Be Done was another song that was written with the full intention of giving away the song to another artist. In this case it was Martika, who most notable for her success with the song Toy Soldiers.
Prince wrote and produced Love… Thy Will Be Done when giving it to Martika and was the first single in her second album Markita’s Kitchen. The single hit the top 10 across the globe scoring highly in the UK, USA, France and Australia.
4. ‘Jungle Love’ (The Time, 1984)
Yet another example of Prince working behind the scenes to bring greatness to the music industry. Jungle Love appeared on The Time’s third album Ice Cream Castle.
With Prince’s influence the song did incredibly well, and was the second most popular song performed by The Time topping the charts at number 20.
Although unconfirmed, it is believed that Morris Day and Jesse Johnson from The Time provided vocals and guitar respectively on the track, while Prince played every other instrument on 80’s hit.
The song was re-released by Morris Day in 2004, and has been used in movies such as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Bringing Down the House.
5. ‘Sugar Walls’ (Sheena Easton, 1984)
From our album A Private Heaven, Sugar Walls was the second single from Sheena Easton. Again, this is another song that wouldn’t have been possible without Prince’s handiwork.
In the United States, Sugar Walls came #1 in the Dance Charts, #3 in the R&B Charts, and #9 overall at it’s peak. It spent 16 weeks in the Top 100.
Prince composed the song under the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind. The producer was also credited as Greg Mathieson, but was also Prince, and of course, Prince wrote the entirety of the song.
Sugar Walls also had some mild success outside of the US in countries like Germany, Australia, the UK and Canada.
6. ‘Nasty Girl’ (Vanity 6, 1982)
Another Prince-assembled band was Vanity 6, starring, of course, Vanity (born Denise Matthews). This song got them started in 1982; Vanity would go on to be a movie star, too. Sadly, in an eerie coincidence, she died earlier this year at age 57 — same age as her ex-boss.
Much like Apollonia 6, Vanity 6 was another female group put together by Prince. However, this band was met with much more success. Again, under a pseudonym, Prince posed as The Starr Company when producing and writing the song.
It did well. In the US, Nasty Girl scored #1 as the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, #1 as the Hot Dance Club Play, and #7 in the Hot Black Singles. There was also some success in Europe with Nasty Girl being rated #7 in the Netherlands Top 100 Singles and #11 in Belgium’s Ultratop.
7. ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ (Sinead O’Connor, 1990)
The Irish singer became a star in 1990 with this song, which actually was recorded by Prince but it was never a hit. O’Connor made it her own, and now it is identified exclusively with her.
Like many of the other stories in this list, Nothing Compares 2U starts with a band put together by Prince. In this case it was The Family, a funk band launched in 1985. The song was released on The Family’s self titled (and only) album, however, it was only truly a hit after it was given to Sinead O’Connor five years later in 1990.
This was a huge hit, and was #1 in numerous countries from the US, UK, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia and more. Using O’Connor as a mouthpiece, this classic from The Family was finally getting the recognition it deserved.
8. ‘Stand Back’ (Stevie Nicks, 1983)
The former Fleetwood Mac singer ventured out on her own, and actually wrote the first draft of this song inspired by Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.” Prince then revamped the song for the second draft, turning it into one of Nicks’ classics in 1983.
One of the stranger stories of Prince contributing to popular songs of the 80’s. Originally drafted by Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks began writing the song after hearing Prince’s Little Red Corvette on her wedding day, January 29, 1983. The first demo of Stand Back was actually recorded the same night in the honeymoon suite.
When Nicks got down to making a studio version of Stand Back, she called Prince and explained how he had inspired her. Prince came down to the studio to help Nicks work on the song, including playing the song’s unforgettable synthesizer track. Although not credited on the track, Prince and Nicks split the royalties as it the song would not have been possible without either of them.
9. ‘How Come You Don’t Call Me?’ (Alicia Keys, 2002)
Sung famously by Alicia Keys, but How Come You Don’t Call Me was originally written and performed by Prince under the name How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?
Prince originally released the song in 1982 on his single ‘1999’. Since then the song was most notably covered by Stephanie Mills a year later in 1983, Joshua Redman in 1998 and finally made big by Keys in 2002 on her album Songs In A Minor.
Prince and Alicia Keys became friends, and she was the person who presented him when Price was put in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
10. ‘Yo Mister’ (Patti LaBelle, 1989)
Another R&B top ten hit that had Prince’s handiwork all over it behind the scenes. Although this doesn’t sound like a product of Prince, it absolutely is. Not only did he write Yo Mister, he also arranged, produced, played and provided vocals for the track.
For the year, Yo Mister received the #6 spot in the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs. Yo Mister was released as a single and was also featured in her album I Can Fly.
11. ‘The Glamorous Life’ (Sheila E., 1984)
Again, this was another track that was intended for Prince’s pet project Apollonia 6, but The Glamorous Life ended up being the closing on Sheila E.’s hit album of the same title.
This is arguably one of Prince’s most successful songs that didn’t feature his vocals. It came #7 in the US pop charts as well as #1 in the dance charts. It also received 3 nominations from MTV as well as winning 2 Grammy awards. The song also did well in Canada, the Netherlands, UK, Australia and Belgium, ranking highly in their charts respectively.