In 1993, Prince died for the first time, and in his place rose an artist with an unpronounceable name: a graphic which blended the male and female symbols into one unified logo – quickly known as the love symbol.
It was intended as a fuck-you to his label Warner Bros. who refused to release his flood of new music at a rate that pleased him, but also caused major headaches for the numerous media outlets, and employees who were now tasked with somehow communicating this name change without any audible cues nor fonts to do so with.
Enter the now-legendary Prince floppy disc, which was sent by Paisley Park to all media outlets, along with the below instructional letter. The disc contains a font with only one figure: the love symbol.
The best section from the letter is the laughably aggressive: “The Ƭ̵̬̊ is now the artist’s legal name and should be used whenever referring to him in print. However the first time he is referenced in a story, you may wish to use the phrase “Ƭ̵̬̊ (the artist formerly known as Prince)” to avoid confusion. Thereafter please use the Ƭ̵̬̊ font.”
“[The disc] just seemed like a logical thing to do,” Chuck Hermes, who worked as a graphic designer for Paisley Park told NYMag magazine last year. “Everybody was having a hard time. He didn’t even want us to be calling him Prince in person. Part of it was, there was this glyph, this symbol that we didn’t know how to pronounce, and he wasn’t giving us any clues.
“So we had to start communicating, we were just writing the symbol freehand,” he said. “It started out as we just did it for ourselves. We needed some way to be efficiently communicating with this name that we couldn’t type on a keyboard.”
To mess with people further, the Love Symbol album, which Prince put out months before announcing the name change, featured the lead single ‘My Name Is Prince’.
By 2000 he had reverted back to his birth name, answering only to ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’ or simply ‘The Artist’ until then.
R.I.P. Prince Rogers Nelson – a stone cold genius, no matter what you happen to call him.