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Prince Opens Up on Being Teased, and His Relationship With His Father

Prince may have built his career on cool, but as a kid, he wasn’t immune to bullying. In a rare interview on PBS’ Tavis Smiley show, the man in purple explains how his parents’ rift actually sparked his musical career—and gave him the confidence to ignore the teasing.

Prince tells Smiley being made fun of as a kid led him to become an introvert. “The first thing I did is I, of course, went into self,” the singer says. “And I taught myself music.” His parents had a rocky relationship, and it was only after the Raspberry Beret singer’s father (a jazz musician) left that he discovered his own musical talent. “My father left his piano at the house when he left,” he remembers. “And I wasn’t allowed to play it when he was there, because I wasn’t as good as him. So when he left, I was determined to get as good as him.”

The hard work paid off, and soon Prince’s talent trumped the teasing. “People in the neighborhood heard about me and then started to talk about me. And it wasn’t in the teasing fashion—it was more like, ‘Wow, look what he can do.’ Once I got that support from people, I believed I could do anything.”  

The two-part interview will air on Tavis Smiley on April 27 and April 28 at 10 PM PT.

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