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Prince signs new deal with Warner Bros Records after 18 years

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Prince has a signed a new deal with Warner Bros Records after 18 years.

Prince and Warner Bros split was so acrimonious that the singer called himself a slave and changed his stage name to a symbol.

Now he says the new deal will see a release of his classic album Purple Rain in time for its 30th anniversary.

Prince will also regain ownership of master recordings made during his previous deal with Warner Bros.

“A brand-new studio album is on the way and both Warner Bros Records and Eye (sic) are quite pleased with the results of the negotiations and look forward to a fruitful working relationship,” Prince said in a statement.

The Purple Rain album was released in 1984, as was the cult film of the same name.

Prince and Warner Bros split was so acrimonious that the singer called himself a slave and changed his stage name to a symbol

Prince and Warner Bros split was so acrimonious that the singer called himself a slave and changed his stage name to a symbol (photo AP)

The album will be given a “deluxe reissue” to coincide with its milestone. More of his classic albums are expected to get the same treatment.

“Everyone at Warner Bros Records is delighted to be working with Prince once again; he is one of the world’s biggest stars and a truly unique talent,” said Warner Bros Records chairman and CEO, Cameron Strang.

Prince signed to Warner Brothers Records in 1977 and they released the biggest albums of his career – among them Purple Rain, Sign O The Times and the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s Batman movie in 1989.

But by the time of 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls, the relationship had soured.


“He didn’t want to be told what to do any more,” Prince’s publicist Chris Poole told his biographer, Matt Thorne.

Specifically, Prince wanted to be able to release more music, more often. Furthermore, he felt he should own the original master tapes for his hit albums.

When Warner Bros disagreed, on both counts, Prince began appearing in public with the word “Slave” written across his face, and changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol – leading the press to christen him The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.

“People think I’m a crazy fool for writing <<slave>> on my face,” Prince told Rolling Stone magazine in 1996.

“But if I can’t do what I want to do, what am I? When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave.

“That’s where I was. I don’t own Prince’s music. If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you.”

Prince eventually fulfilled his contract by delivering Warner Bros a series of albums packed with off-cuts and lacklustre material – including Chaos and Disorder and Old Friends 4 Sale.

Although they contained an occasional gem – such as 1996’s playful Dinner With Delores – the records damaged his reputation with casual fans, who were confused and disinterested by what amounted to an employment dispute.

By the time Prince released his first post-Warners album – the pointedly-titled Emancipation.

Prince’s latest album, PlectrumElectrum, was recorded with his all-female band 3rdEyeGirl.