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1999

Warner Bros. Records

It took me four albums to get on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Selling 5 million copies worldwide, 1999 was the album that propelled Prince to fame in 1982, as it was also his cross-over album to appeal to a white audience. 1999 remains to this day today a firm fan favourite and was first certified Platinum by RIAA on 17 May 1983 and eventually four times Platinum in year 1999.

Work on the album began in the spring of 1982 and continued throughout that summer, in long and solitary recording sessions at his new home studio, 9401 Kiowa Trail. Although Prince wrote all the songs, he credits the work to his new backing band The Revolution – named in reverse lettering on the album’s cover – and was the first occasion which his touring band was given a name.

The 1999 sessions saw Prince’s most prolific output to date, during which he also produced albums for his two side projects The Time and Vanity 6. It was also the year which Prince acquired a hugely expensive Linn LM-1 drum machine – the first commercial 8-bit drum sampler – albeit actually invented by a guitarist, Roger Linn, only 525 were ever made. It fired his imagination and Prince recorded so much material in these sessions, the project produced his first double album. Following the pattern began by his previous album, once the main recording sessions were complete the work was finished off at Sunset Sound in Hollywood. So much material was produced in this period, Prince would not match this level of output until 1986 when working on Sign O’ The Times and became his second double album.

When released on vinyl, the first five tracks of 1999 comprised its first disk, with the remaining six on the second LP. But when later pressed to CD in 1985, the track D.M.S.R. had to be omitted due to the space constraint of early manufacturing technology, but is reinstated in later pressings. Although 1999 originally charted at number 9 in the US, selling 4m units (plus 300,000 in the UK where it peaked at only 30), 1999 gradually gained universal acclaim; Rolling Stone Magazine listing it 163rd in their top 500 albums of all time. Its chart success improved in 2016, reaching number 7 in US in the week following Prince’s death, and similarly in the UK climbing two places from its 1982 peak, to number 28 in 2016.

In 1983, 1999 saw Prince receive his first Grammy nominations; Best Vocal Performance (Album) and Best Vocal Performance (Track), for International Lover. On 29 November 2019 the iconic 1999 album was remastered and repackaged into a 5 disk collection containing also studio out-takes from the era, released as 1999 Super Deluxe Edition. The set likewise received a Grammy nomination, for Best Historical Album, in 2021. Without 1999 Prince would not have met the considerable success in his subsequent releases and is therefore arguably his most important album and why it is held in such high esteem by fans and critics today.

Prince | 1999
Photography by Allen Beaulieu

Cover story

The cover of 1999 is formed of a collage produced by Prince himself, in which on closer look reveals a number of interesting elements. The eyes in the first and third 9 are lifted from the cover of Prince’s previous album Controversy; as are the Rude Boy badge placed in the middle 9 and the studs from his jacket shown in the top of the R. Finally, “and the Revolution” is spelled in reverse in the lips over the I in the artwork.

Performers

All Instruments
Prince
Guitar
Dez Dickerson Little Red Corvette

Data

Production
Prince
Label
Warner Bros. Records
Distribution
Warner Bros. Records
Cover/Design
Prince
Released
38 years, 6 months ago on 17 October 1982
Reissued
29 November 2019 as 1999 Super Deluxe Edition
Running Time
70:35
US Chart Peak
7
UK Chart Peak
28
Prince Album
#5
Orig. Formats

Tracklist

  1. 1999 [feat. Jill Jones, Lisa Coleman and Dez Dickerson] (6:22) 1
  2. Little Red Corvette [feat. Lisa Coleman and Dez Dickerson] (4:58) 1
  3. Delirious (3:56) 1
  4. Let's Pretend We're Married (7:20) 1
  5. D.M.S.R. (8:05) 2
  6. Automatic (9:24)
  7. Something In The Water (Does Not Compute) (4:00)
  8. Free [feat. Vanity] (5:00)
  9. Lady Cab Driver (8:25)
  10. All The Critics Love U In New York (5:55)
  11. International Lover (6:35)

1 Released as singles.
2 Omitted from original CD pressing.

Singles from 1999

1999 single from 1999, Warner Bros. Records (1982)

1999

Warner Bros. Records

Released
24 September 1982
US Chart Peak
12
UK Chart Peak
2
Formats
  1. 1999 [Edit] [feat. Jill Jones, Lisa Coleman and Dez Dickerson] (3:36)
  2. How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore (3:50)
1999 [Maxi Single] single from 1999, Warner Bros. Records (1983)

1999 [Maxi Single]

Warner Bros. Records

Released
7 January 1983
US Chart Peak
12
UK Chart Peak
2
Format
  1. 1999 (6:22)
  2. How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore (3:50)
  3. D.M.S.R. (8:15)
Little Red Corvette single from 1999, Warner Bros. Records (1983)

Little Red Corvette

Warner Bros. Records

Released
9 February 1983
US Chart Peak
6
UK Chart Peak
2
Format
  1. Little Red Corvette [Edit] [feat. Lisa Coleman and Dez Dickerson] (3:09)
  2. All The Critics Love U In New York (3:15)
Little Red Corvette [Maxi Single] single from 1999, Warner Bros. Records (1983)

Little Red Corvette [Maxi Single]

Warner Bros. Records

Released
9 February 1983
US Chart Peak
6
UK Chart Peak
54
Format
  1. Little Red Corvette [Dance Remix] [feat. Lisa Coleman and Dez Dickerson] (8:22)
  2. Lady Cab Driver (8:25)
 Delirious single from 1999, Warner Bros. Records (1983)

Delirious

Warner Bros. Records

Released
17 August 1983
US Chart Peak
8
UK Chart Peak
No Release
Format
  1. Delirious [Edit] (2:38)
  2. Horny Toad (2:12)
Let's Pretend We're Married [Maxi Single] single from 1999, Warner Bros. Records (1983)

Let's Pretend We're Married [Maxi Single]

Warner Bros. Records

Released
16 November 1983
US Chart Peak
52
UK Chart Peak
No Release
Format
  1. Let's Pretend We're Married (7:20)
  2. Irresistible Bitch (4:11)
Let's Pretend We're Married single from 1999, Warner Bros. Records (1983)

Let's Pretend We're Married

Warner Bros. Records

Released
23 November 1983
US Chart Peak
52
UK Chart Peak
No Release
Format
  1. Let's Pretend We're Married [Edit] (3:40)
  2. Irresistible Bitch (4:11)

Supporting tour

1999 Triple Threat Tour

1999 Triple Threat Tour

1982/3

  • 87 shows from 11 November 1982 to 10 April 1983

1999 – review

There are some albums that the music cannot be cranked up loud enough and 1999 is one of these albums. Indeed 1999 is considered the favourite album of Prince fans and is also the one that launched Prince into the music mainstream: Little Richard and Rick James was brushed aside amid the wake of 1999 and Prince has never since looked back. Featuring the juggernaut hits Little Red Corvette and of course the title track, the album foreshadows the domination Prince was destined to exert over the next decade of music. 1999 is the fan favorite for D.M.S.R., Let’s Pretend Were Married, Something In The Water (Does not Compute), Lady Cab Driver and the brilliant Automatic. 1999 was twenty years ahead of its time and guarantees it notoriety as the all time club classic and the go-to album for the turn of the Millennium. Because of its fresh and unmistakable sound 1999 has never dated and is ordained to be spun in clubs for decades to come. There is no “out of time” for this party, for this is Prince at his very best and without it the follow up, Purple Rain no less, could never have been written. Laden with grooves that find dancing an all-too a-u-t-omatic reflex to listeners “You can dance if you want to” proves an invitation impossible to resist. Music will never be this exciting again.

1999

Related release

1999 Super Deluxe Edition

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