Icon: Prince's Best-Selling Albums and Chart-Topping Hits | NBC Southern California

Icon: Prince's Best-Selling Albums and Chart-Topping Hits

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Prince's career was one of the most enduring in pop, rock, R&B or any of the other genres his music spanned, with hit singles and albums from the late 1970s up into the 2010s.

    His crowning achievement was "Purple Rain," a beloved 1984 album that went platinum 13 times over, as well as a movie that turned the unconventional, multitalented performer into an international phenomenon. Its biggest single, "When Doves Cry," spent five weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

    See all his RIAA-certified platinum albums and Top 40 singles as collected by Billboard

    (Explore the graphic by mousing over or tapping the songs.)

    Prince's career was punctuated by a period where he wasn't Prince at all. Instead, he went by the symbol above, which he invented and said was unpronouncable; it was referred to as love symbol, symbol or glyph, but many people simply referred to him as "the artist formerly known as Prince."

    Updated

    The 1993 change came amid a dispute over the frequency of his releases with Warner Brothers, according to reports. He returned to using the name Prince after he left the label, around the turn of the millennium.

    In a 1999 interview with Larry King on CNN, Prince explained that he never came up with the phrase "the artist formerly known as."

    "I had to search deep within my heart and spirit and I wanted to make a change and move to a new plateau in my life and one of the ways in which I did that was to change my name and sort of divorce me from the past and all of the hangups that go along with it," he said.

    He said the problem came from the media not being able to pronounce the symbol, "so they had to come up with something I guess."