Prince’s Alter-Ego Camille Never Got to Release a Full-Length Album

For many music fans around the world, Prince is one of the greatest artists that ever lived. He had an exotic look, a brilliant stage presence, and a way of shocking critics and audiences with his wild onstage performances and occasionally risqué lyrics.

A celebrity who always preferred to maintain a strong air of mystery in regard to his personal life, Prince never stopped creating and writing songs, right up until the day of his untimely death in 2016, at the age of 57. These days, Prince has more fans than ever before, and, if anything, interest in his life and legacy has only increased. In particular, fans love learning about Prince’s more outrageous ventures — including the time he nearly published an album under the name of his feminine alter ego. 

Prince was a boundary-pushing musical artist

Prince was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of working-class parents. After signing a record contract when he was only 19 years old, Prince quickly became a staple on the music scene, releasing his debut album in 1978. Prince quickly earned renown as a musical prodigy, and the release of the now cult-classic film Purple Rain only served to cement his status as a pop culture icon. 

Never afraid to push boundaries, Prince was often seen on stage wearing skimpy outfits and over-the-top makeup. His mystique and outrageous attitude only made his fans love him more — and his incredible antics during performances, including leaping and dancing in sky-high boots, made his shows ones not to be missed. 

Who was Prince’s alter ego?

Prince | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

By the early ’80s, Prince was already a major music superstar, with hit albums like Dirty Mind, Controversy, and Purple Rain to his credit. Still, Prince was not content to rest on his laurels (or his multiple awards) and got right to work on a project that was unlike anything he had done before. Prince decided to create his new album under his alter ego, Camille.

According to Mental Floss, Prince created this alter ego in the mid-80s. While the exact origins of Camille are unknown, the artist could have based the ideology behind Camille on Herculine Barbin, a 19th-century intersex person from France who was raised as a female but used the name Camille later in life, while living as a man.

Prince went by a number of different nicknames and stage identities during the course of his life, but Camille was his only true alter ego. While Prince went into the production of his new Camille album with the intention of releasing it in 1986, the project was unfortunately scrapped before the album was given a full release. 

Why was Prince’s Camille album never ultimately released?

The same Mental Floss report details how Prince’s Camille album made it as far as the test-pressing stage, but at the very last minute, Prince’s record label decided to shelve the project for reasons that are not fully known. Still, Prince was able to recycle some of the songs that he wrote for the album for his 1987 album Sign O’ the Times — and the character of Camille showed up several times in the years that followed, including The Black Album.

Ultimately, Prince’s alter ego was not only responsible for one of his most interesting periods artistically, but the reference point for several of his most innovative and exciting songs, even if the alter ego never got a standalone album release. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for all the latest entertainment news!

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