By Hayden Wright
As an icon, Prince is remembered as one name and one man (and briefly, this symbol). But part of Prince’s legend is nurturing talent—particularly female talent—among his long list of protégés. For many, he was tutor-lover-writer-manager, expanding the Prince mystique far beyond his solo outings. Prince and his protégés collaborated—some hooked up, others fell out, made up, and created an enduring aesthetic through the ’80s and ’90s. His Paisley Park Records championed fresh, sexy talent until the present day.
While some protégés went on to bright futures in entertainment, others lived quieter lives once their collaboration with Prince came to an end. Here are some of the most memorable Prince protégés.
Sheena Easton: Easton experienced mainstream success before she met Prince, winning the Best New Artist Grammy in 1982. Prince helped supercharge her image with the song “Sugar Walls,” and their sexy duet “U Got the Look.”
Vanity: In February, Prince paid tribute to Vanity—his ex partner in love and music, who passed away at age 57. “She was very headstrong, “cause she knew she was the finest woman in the world,” he said. Prince assembled her girl group Vanity 6 in 1981, which had a minor hit with “Nasty Girl.” Vanity retired in 1997 after a string of solo dance chart hits.
Apollonia Kotero: As the lead of Prince’s girl group Apollonia 6, Kotero reached peak Prince as his co-star in the film Purple Rain. Her first name might also sound familiar from Kanye West’s “Stronger,” which includes the lyric, “You know how long I’ve been on you? Since Prince was on Apollonia.”
Sheila E: In the 80s, Prince produced three albums for the daughter of percussionist Pete Escovedo—better known as Sheila E. They had a brief romantic relationship and under his wing, she earned a top 10 Billboard hit (“The Glamorous Life”) and two Grammy nominations.
Carmen Electra: Long before Baywatch and Playboy made her a household name, Electra was another girl hustling for a music career under Prince’s tutelage. Signed to his Paisley Park records, her short-lived music career was heavy on the dance-rap. Without Prince, Electra might still be known by her birth name: Tara Leigh Patrick.
Judith Hill: Hill released an album with Paisley Park Records last year after making a name for herself as Michael Jackson’s back-up singer. Her appearance in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom helped establish a platform to record solo music—her Prince-produced album Back In Time earned acclaim in 2015.