I desperately want to be a dad again
He had everything — a new lease of life “with his career and a beautiful new wife. But the agony of losing his first child has left the pop star with a terrible emptiness, as he reveals exclusively in OK!

Martin Pearson

It was supposed to be the greatest year in the life of The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. On Valentine’s Day, he married the woman he says he was destined to be with. Soon afterwards, the happy couple were expecting their first child - the prospects of which filled the 38-yearold pop scar with paternal joy. Meanwhile, his long-running dispute with Warner Brothers - the record company to whom he felt enslaved - was finally resolved,
leaving him free to record when and what he wanted. The result, an album aptly titled Emancipation, was released last month.

But 1996 has ended in tragedy for the singer and his wife, Mayte. Their son lived for just one week after being born  on October 16 with a rare skull condition, craniosynostosis. It’s more commonly known as the Clover Leaf Syndrome because the baby’s skull takes on the appearance of a clover leaf.

What adds extra poignancy to this tragedy is that Prince couldn’t wait to be a father. His home, the sumptuous Paisley Park, had been geared up for the pitter-patter of tiny feet and, as the star now reveals, several of the songs on the new album, including Let’s Have a Baby, are about childbirth. Another track was based upon the rhythm of his then-unbom baby’s heartbeat.

Now, a tour of Paisley Park includes a visit to the room that would have been his son’s favourite place - a fantasy land for a children filled with shiny plastic playthings. Hidden elsewhere are two baby bedrooms, one for a boy, one for a girl.

It’s too soon for Prince to talk about his son’s premature death. But back when Mayte was expecting, the singer was full of hope, looking forward to learning from his son. ’I expect my child to advise me,’ he said shortly before the tragedy. The way I see it, it’s already smarter than me... it’s going to be teaching me.’

The loss will be a major test of the star’s marriage to 29-year-old Mayte – the first hurdle in an otherwise perfect romance. Mayte, a stunningly beautiful Puerto Rican dancer, is tiny, perfectly turned out and painfully shy. The couple are relying on love to help them cope with their grief.

Certainly, Prince has no regrets about the relationship. Their Valentine’s Day wedding was meant to be, he says. ’It was just incredible. It was beautiful. It was like I was above it... I wasn’t really there. That’s what I mean by following your path... you just have to let the spirit take you. There’s a million women I could have been with.’

He cites a list of reasons why he and Mayte were meant to be in a pamphlet entitled Coincidence or Fate. Starting with the fact that both have fathers named John, it goes on to list even more obscure similarities, such as the fact that Mayte’s mother is named Nell and that Prince’s last name was Nelson.

To some, it may sound like a collection of irrelevancies. But to Prince, it’s proof that he and Mayte were destined to be together.

’I’ve had a lot of women tell me they’re my soul mates,’ he adds. ’I never felt it... until now.’

His immediate reaction to his son’s death has been to throw himself into his work. While he will not talk yet about his bereavement, he compensates by being unusually open about all other aspects of his life. Here at home in his Paisley Park complex near Minneapolis, Minnesota, he is on time and impeccably polite, exchanging greetings with a firm handshake and a direct gaze.

Wearing a liberal dusting of stark white make-up, he’s clad in an all-black ensemble of high-heeled suede boots, shirt slashed to the waist and a frock coat with tails hanging to the ground. He’s tiny, of course, both in height and in features - a compact, efficient “body with a rigid, almost military bearing.

After spending much of his time living in LA, he recently moved back to full-time residence at Paisley Park. Everything he needs to live and work is right here, close to
the city where he was born as Prince Rogers Nelson 38 years ago.

Taking OK! on a guided tour of the place he glows with pride at the hallways lined with photographs of his life – everything from the film Purple Rain to a soft-focus portrait of him and his beloved, Mayte.

But while Prince is proud of Paisley Park, his career says most about him. He has just embarked upon the busiest, most risky venture of his 20-year career. The new album,
Emancipation, marks the end of a long-running saga for the star.

For most of the Nineties, Prince ~ as he was known until 1993 – was unhappy with his recording contract with Warner Brothers. Record bosses found him too prolific, believing that releasing too many albums too often was bad for business: ’I was told “we want an album every 18 months”, and you just can’t do that to me,’ he says.

’They were trying to tie me down. In 18 months I might record enough material for three or four albums.’ This difference of opinion sparked a one-man rebellion by the star. His protest began in 1993 with the rejection of his birth name, Prince name under which his music was marketed ever since he signed with Wamer Brothers at the age of 19.

The eccentric star then adopted an unpronounceable, self-invented ’sign’ as his new name. To the rest or us, he became The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’ (and the acronym TAFKAP is now widely used).

The singer describes this course of action as ’a cry for solidarity amongst the artists and a reprieve from he greed of entertainment executives’.

He’s now finally free from his old recording restrictions. Indeed, the title of his new album, Emancipation, speaks volumes. The nameless one is now determined to make and sell his music without corporate backing. ’I didn’t have anything to say before,’ he says. ’Now I’m free. My words aren’t owned anymore. It’s a strange feeling, but I like it. I can do anything. When I work with someone, we don’t have to go to a lawyer and+talk rights and so on...’

But he denies the charge of being a control freak: ’I just want to see what happens when I get the chance o create my vision as I see it.’

The result of that vision is the new three-CD creation which he describes as ’the record I was born to make... This is me – if it’s not on this record, I can’t do it.’

His one-man mutiny against the system may seem like a reckless gamble but, knowing Prince, it’s more likely a calculated move. And if he can go it alone, what’s to stop other megastars doing the same?

The pop maestro has always controlled every aspect of his music. He writes and produces all his material and plays just about every instrument. Taking charge of business is simply the next logical step.

Experts believe Prince could net around half the price of every CD sold as pure profit. Big bucks are at stake, and he’s very optimistic. Til never sell less than a million records/ he predicts. (So if we set the price at, say $40 for 36 new songs, that’s $40 million. Now it’s up to us how to split that up.’

His enthusiasm for this newly revitalised career should prove invaluable in the difficult times ahead, as he and Mayte begin to come to terms with the loss of their first child. Friends have reportedly said that the only real comfort is that the couple are still young enough to have more children. In the meantime, Prince will take solace in his ability to make ground-breaking music – on his own terms.