Prince’s relationship with his family was never simple. His parents had children from several marriages, and over the years these eight brothers and sisters fell in and out of favor with their famous family member. Now, following Prince’s unexpected death at age 57, those little-known siblings -- his likely heirs -- suddenly find themselves in the public eye.
Nearly three weeks after Prince’s body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in suburban Minneapolis, no will has yet emerged -- Prince’s only full sibling, sister Tyka Nelson, says she has no knowledge of a will, and his estate’s court-appointed special administrator, Bremer Trust, has yet to uncover one.
John and Mattie met in 1956. Both were jazz musicians, and both had children from a previous marriage -- John had four, Mattie had one. John and Mattie had two children together: Prince and Tyka. Like his character in Purple Rain, “The Kid,” Prince clashed with his father -- he eventually moved in with his friend André Cymone’s family to get away from John, though the two later reconciled and even collaborated on several of Prince’s songs during the ‘80s, including Purple Rain’s “Computer Blue” -- which includes a portion of another collaboration, “Father’s Song,” which is the gentle piano ballad Prince’s father’s character is seen playing in the film. (Unlike The Kid’s mother, however, Mattie was African-American.)
Prince’s parents did not have a smooth married life. John and first wife, Vivian, had a fifth child in 1959 -- a year after Prince was born, and a year before Tyka was born. After a period of estrangement, Prince’s parents divorced in 1966. Mattie eventually remarried and had another son.
In total, then, Prince had eight siblings: one full sister, three half-sisters, and four half-brothers. Two of those siblings -- a half-brother and a half-sister -- died before Prince. That still leaves six relatives with claims to Prince’s estate -- at present. Illinois resident Darcell Gresham Johnston has already filed papers with the court, claiming to be Prince’s half-sister. Just today (May 11), according to The Wrap, a Lousiana-based genealogical services company is soliciting clients who think they may have a relation to Prince, and a Colorado inmate has filed a claim in court that he is a biological heir to the legend, Reuters reports.
These probably won’t be the last claimant to step forward: In anticipation of further would-be relatives, the court has taken a precautionary DNA sample from the late superstar.
But it’s the children of John and Mattie, together and with different spouses, who will likely play the most significant roles in any upcoming probate drama. The public didn’t know much about Prince’s brothers and sisters before his death. Here are the most pertinent and interesting facts currently known about the people who stand to receive a share of Prince’s multi-million-dollar estate.
-- Born in 1960, two years after Prince, Tyka is the artist’s only full sibling: She too is the daughter of John L. Nelson and Mattie Della Shaw, who divorced in 1966 and are both deceased.
-- Tyka released a well-publicized album, Royal Blue, in 1988, with a single, “Marc Anthony’s Tune,” (named for an imaginary boyfriend) that reached No. 33 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. According to a People feature at the time, she appeared “ready to explore new frontiers of eccentricity” and was accompanied by “a stuffed dinosaur she keeps on a leash and hugs during interviews” who she called “Jazz.”
-- Tyka battled drug addiction for years, a topic she addressed on songs like “Touch from Heaven” on her 2008 album A Brand New Me, With Prince’s help, she completed an inpatient stay at Hazelden, the highly regarded Minnesota treatment center, in 2003.
Sharon L. Nelson
-- Born in 1940, Sharon (pictured above) is Prince's half-sister. She’s the oldest of John L. Nelson’s five children from his first marriage to Vivian Nelson.
-- Sharon is a musician who released a 2009 album, 57th Street Sound, according to her Myspace page. She also co-produced her father’s 1994 EP, Father’s Song.
-- From 2009 to 2011, Nelson hosted a podcast that included an episode called "Three Generations of Music by the Nelsons," which discussed the music of Prince and his father.
Norrine P. Nelson
-- Prince’s half-sister Norrine (pictured above) is the second-oldest daughter of John L. and Vivian Nelson. She was born in 1942.
-- Norrine lives in Minneapolis. Little other information about her is publicly available.
-- Born in 1943, Prince’s half-sister Lorna was the third and youngest daughter of Prince’s father John L. Nelson and his first wife, Vivian. Lorna died in 2006 at age 63, leaving no children behind.
-- Lorna filed an unsuccessful copyright infringement suit against Prince in 1987, claiming that the lyrics to his hit "U Got the Look" were lifted from her own unpublished song, "What's Cooking in This Book."
-- In 2001, following the death of John L. Nelson, Lorna challenged Prince’s handling of their father’s estate, according to the Star Tribune, saying he had significantly undervalued it. The dispute was eventually settled.
John R. Nelson
-- Prince’s half-brother John is oldest son of John L. and Vivian Nelson. He was born in 1944.
-- John is the only living Prince sibling who did not attend the first probate court hearing on the Prince estate on May 2.
-- He lives in Kansas City.
-- Prince’s half-brother Alfred (pictured above) is Mattie Shaw’s son from a previous marriage. He is 63 years old and lives in Kansas City with his brother John, his attorney, Frank Wheaton told the Associated Press.
-- A Vietnam veteran who was drafted at the age of 17, Alfred was admitted to a St. Cloud, Minnesota, V.A. hospital upon his discharge from the U.S. Air Force.
-- Alfred is the only Prince sibling to speak at length with the media. He gave an interview with Entertainment Tonight shortly after Prince’s death, saying he had not seen or spoken with Prince for almost 15 years, a fact his attorney later disputed.
-- Born in 1959, Duane was the youngest child of John and L. Vivian Nelson, He died in 2011.
-- Duane served as Prince's security chief at Paisley Park for many years. But their relationship soured and Prince apparently fired Duane from his position, according to Star Tribune columnist C.J., who also learned from Duane that his famous brother had filed a restraining order against him.
-- Duane is the only known sibling of Prince who was not listed on the documents Tyka Nelson's lawyers filed in Prince’s probate case, a situation possibly related to their apparent estrangement. The filings also omit Duane’s daughter Brianna and his granddaughter Victoria Nelson, whose father, Duane Jr., died in 2005. Mentioned in Duane Sr.’s Star Tribune obituary, Brianna and Victoria could inherit their father’s share of the estate in his stead under Minnesota law.
-- Born in 1970. Omarr (pictured above) is the son of Prince’s mother, Mattie, and her second husband, Hayward Baker.
--Omarr lives in Golden Valley, a suburb of Minneapolis, in a home owned by Prince.