*It’s been well documented that Prince and Michael Jackson were both personal and professional rivals during the height of their commercial success in the 1980s. But it turns out that both enjoyed significant career markers on the same date, 13 years apart.
On Oct. 13, 1979, Michael Jackson’s single “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, becoming his second ever solo number one hit after 1972’s “Ben.” On Oct. 13, 1992, Prince released an album with a symbol on the cover that represented both his new professional name and defiant independence.
“Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” also represented independence for Jackson. It was the first track on his fifth studio album “Off the Wall” in 1979, but more importantly, it was the first solo recording over which Jackson had creative control. Critics consider the track to be the first that also showcased Jackson’s talent as a songwriter.
And who can forget the video, with its then state-of-the-art, 1979 green screen graphics and special effects showing Jackson in innovative triplicate.
Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough
“Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” went quadruple platinum, topped the chart in nine other countries and earned Jackson his first Grammy.
Meanwhile, the album that came to be known as “Love Symbol” was actually an unpronounceable blend of the male and female gender symbols that Prince had featured on past album covers. He copyrighted an enhanced version of the image under the title “Love Symbol #2,” and began using it as his unpronounceable stage name from 1993 to 2001 in protest of his label, Warner Bros. Records. The label distributed the album, which was released on Oct. 13, 1992 by Prince’s own Paisley Park Records.
Warner Bros. wanted the track “7” to be released as the first single.
Prince – 7
But Prince instead insisted that “My Name Is Prince” be the lead single, arguing that its sound would appeal better to listeners that had enjoyed “Diamonds and Pearls.”
Prince – My Name Is Prince
The “Love Symbol” LP was actually a concept album featuring dancer Mayte Garcia, who would become his wife four years later. In visuals for the album, Mayte played an Egyptian princess who falls in love with a rock star (Prince) and entrusts him with a religious artifact, the Three Chains of Turin (or track “Three Chains o’ Gold”). She is eventually captured, then escapes from seven assassins, as referenced in “7.”
The original cut of the album had eight spoken segues to help tell this story, but most of them had to be cut for time when Prince decided to add one last song, “I Wanna Melt With U,” instead of making it the B-side to the “7” maxi single, as was the original plan.
Prince – Eye Want 2 Melt With U (Live 1992)
MJ reportedly said that Prince was “nasty” and “one of the rudest people I’ve ever met.” Although Prince and MJ were rivals, they were respectfully competitive. Prince’s good friend Tavis Smiley told Conan O’Brien that Prince was devastated by Jackson’s death and “[locked] himself literally in his room for days, and didn’t come out. Didn’t talk to anybody.”
There are videos of Prince playing Michael Jackson songs in concert as a salute to the King of Pop following his death. Below is one of them.
Prince dips into the MJ song that reached number one on the very date that he would release his pivotal “Love Symbol” album 13 years later.
Prince – Medley: Cool, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough (at the 23 second mark)