How One Small Religion Changed Prince
His music still dripped with lust, but in his personal life Prince’s conversion to a Jehovah’s Witness was a dramatic one.
The world is shocked by the sudden death of Prince at the young age of 57. As we come to terms with his passing we also face a new realization: that the artist responsible for some of the most powerfully seductive songs of the 20th century died a deeply religious man. One of his generation’s greatest artists—the man responsible for songs like “Sexy MF” and “Jack U Off”—died a fervent member of a marginalized and often derided sect.
In some ways Prince was always religious. He was raised a Seventh-day Adventist and frequently attended an African-American congregation in Glendale City. He claimed as a child, and maintained until his death, that an angel had cured him of epilepsy. It was only in 2001, though, that he became a Jehovah’s Witness.
His conversion was inspired by a two-year conversation with songwriter-bassist Larry Graham (of Sly and the Family Stone fame). Prince described it more as an awakening than a conversion, likening his experience to that of Neo in The Matrix. But Prince surely behaved like a convert: his religion permeated every aspect of his life. He not only attended meetings at a local Kingdom Hall, he occasionally knocked on doors proselytizing to others. A Jewish couple in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, once reported that they found Prince on their doorstep clutching a Bible.