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Prince Pulls the Plug on Studio Recording Career : Pop music: He says he plans to pursue other projects and use unreleased recordings to fulfill $60-million contract with Warner Bros.


Pop star Prince has released a statement that he is "retiring from studio recording" to pursue other projects, a move that the record world has met with widespread skepticism.

"I think retirement has more of a finality to it in other professions, but in show business it's more like taking a vacation," said Charles Koppelman, chairman and chief executive officer of EMI Records North America, expressing the view of several record chiefs surveyed Wednesday.

"Still, most executives don't go to sleep at night saying, 'Gee, I hope when I wake up in the morning that one of my biggest artists will decide to retire.' If Prince is truly retiring, . . . I hope he has a really good golf game."

In a statement released late Tuesday night, Prince said he would stop recording new studio material and turn his attention to live theater, interactive media, nightclubs and films. He has already written 10 new songs for "I'll Do Anything," a motion picture musical starring Nick Nolte and Tracey Ullman.

Prince's announcement comes only seven months after he signed an estimated $60-million recording contract with Warner Bros. Records and only days after completing a 10-city U.S. tour with three performances at the Universal Amphitheatre.

According to the statement, Prince will fill his next five studio albums required by his Warner contract with selections culled from 500 unreleased recordings in his Minneapolis-based Paisley Park Records library.

Representatives for Prince, Paisley Park and Warner declined to comment.

Jon Bream, the Minneapolis Star pop critic who has written a biography on the enigmatic Minneapolis-based entertainer, doubted whether Prince could keep out of the studio.

"Knowing his work habits and the amount of time he spends in the studio, I cannot imagine that a creative person with an ego the size of Prince's will ever stop recording or releasing albums of new material," Bream said.

But Bream said the move was in keeping with Prince's character: "Part of Prince's philosophy in life and art and business is to shock people and to do it in such a way that it is so riveting you can't avoid it. And here, once again, Prince is throwing us all a curve ball."

Michael Pagnotta, Prince's New York publicist, said Wednesday he knew nothing about the retirement until he received a faxed statement the night before from Paisley Park at around 8 p.m. with instructions to disseminate it. However, a Warner Bros. source said key Warner executives were aware of the decision Monday night.

Retirement is nothing new for Prince. At the end of the Purple Rain tour in 1985, Prince reportedly said he would never embark on a major tour again because he wanted to pursue spiritual matters.

EMI's Koppelman didn't think the move was likely to damage Prince's sales. "At least in Prince's case, even if he never recorded another studio album, if he just went out and toured and promoted the music that's already in the can, I think Paisley Park and Warner Bros. Records will still sell a lot of records," Koppelman said.

Larry Solters, head of the L.A. marketing firm Scoop, does not view the move as a publicity ploy, but questioned the impact it might have on Prince's career.

"It's impossible to predict whether it will help or hurt, but in recent history, we saw the use of mystique and aloofness apparently hurt George Michael's career in the short term. But retirement is nothing in rock 'n' roll," he said. "Look at the Who and the Stones and David Bowie."

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