7 Songs, 35 Minutes


About John L. Nelson

As Prince Rogers, John L. Nelson carved out a career as a jazz musician in the Minneapolis area in the 1950s but he will forever be known as the father of Prince, the genre-bending superstar of the 1980s.

Prince credited John L. Nelson with several collaborations during his peak in the 1980s -- "Computer Blue," "Around the World in a Day," "Christopher Tracy's Parade," "Under the Cherry Moon," and "Scandalous!" all bore his name, usually because they carried a chord sequence Prince had heard on music by his father -- but during his period as an active musician, the pianist didn't break out of his hometown. Born in Webster Parish, Louisiana on June 29, 1916, he moved to Minneapolis in 1948, which is where he adopted the stage name of "Prince Rogers," the name he'd eventually give his son. Prince Rogers Nelson was born in 1958, a year after his father married Mattie Della Shaw. The couple had another child, Tyka, before divorcing in 1968.

Nelson lived in Minnesota until his death -- he was estranged from Prince throughout his son's adolescence and early adulthood. In 2018, many of his compositions were recorded and released as Don't Play with Love, a project masterminded by Sharon L. Nelson -- the eldest child from John's first marriage and a half-sister to Prince -- and featuring Louis Hayes. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine