This spring has witnessed a trio of announcements of releases that should keep Prince fans occupied this summer. In what began with Sony’s release of Ultimate Rave, a 4-disk boxset reissuing Prince’s millennial albums – Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic and its companion album Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic plus his turn-of-the-year concert DVD Rave Un2 The Year 2000 – coinciding with Paisley Park’s annual week-long Celebration (25-28 April) held around the date of the singer’s death. There came the announcement from Penguin Random House, on 22 April, of the publication of the memoir Prince was working on shortly before his death in 2016, and although his manuscript was unfinished it will chronicle in his own words the birth of his legendary career. The autobiography, titled The Beautiful Ones is due to be published on 29 October.
However, the week concluded with yet another release announcement, this time by Warner Brothers of their upcoming album named Originals, which will contain 15 tracks of original demos versions recorded by Prince of songs that he gave to other artists. Originals is to date the most tantalising release by The Prince Estate, in that fans will finally get to hear Prince’s original recordings of hits such as Manic Monday, Love… Thy Will Be Done and The Glamorous Life. In what comes off the back of 2018 release of Prince’s original version of Nothing Compares 2 U – now become the first single from Originals. The album will be available to stream from TIDAL from Prince’s birthday, 7 June, with Warners’ physical release streeting on 21 June. Furthermore, in Germany, a Blu-Ray version of the Sign O’ The Times movie is confirmed by an independent distributor; it will feature an exclusive 90-minute documentary, currently in production.
Yet despite releases now flowing out of the Estate, Fortune does not appear to be smiling. For Prince’s half-sister Sharon Nelson reveals the six siblings who are legal heirs to the singer’s estimated $300 million wealth are in the midst of a lengthy legal battle with the Estate’s administrator Comerica Bank & Trust. Amounting to a staggering 2,711 court filings, resulting in mounting legal costs as Prince had not left a will, has put the family in fear that the Estate will be bankrupt before the end of this year. Prince’s heirs are yet to receive a penny from star’s fortune other than sharing the $100,000 profit from the tribute concert organised by them in 2016. Tensions have gown between the family and Comercia as a result, for whilst the family is having to fund the legal fees with their own resources Comercia continues to draw a fee of £125,000 per month from the Estate. Comercia insist the continuing monetisation of the Estate remains the priority in order to settle the icon’s outstanding tax bill (currently undergoing audit with the IRS), for which necessitated not only leveraging Prince’s musical legacy but selling some of his properties. In December 2017, the family was unsuccessful in their attempt to remove Comercia as administrator and the legal wrangling remains ongoing and involves some 40 lawyers. Nelson admits “It’s a fight,” but vows to fight on.
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