Throughout his nearly 40-year recording career, Prince surrounded himself with the opposite sex. From The Revolution's first incarnation in 1979, which included keyboardist Gayle Chapman, to his final backing band, all-female trio 3rdeyegirl, women were his collaborators, his colleagues, his peers. They were his muses -- like Patrice Rushen, the R&B singer who reportedly inspired his first top 40 hit, 1979's "I Wanna Be Your Lover." And they were his paramours, as shown by his well-documented relationships with protegees like Vanity and Carmen Electra to his tabloid involvements with actresses (Vanessa Marcil, Sherilyn Fenn, Kim Basinger) to his two marriages. Sometimes, as with drummer Sheila E., they were all of the above. Women also gave new life to his songwriting. "Prince liked our video for 'Hero Takes a Fall,' and that led to him giving us 'Manic Monday,'" The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs told Billboard in 2010. "We became friends. He would show up randomly at our gigs and jump onstage with his guitar. Once he had us over to a house he was renting, and we jammed together for hours. He wanted to play our songs. It was incredible. Almost like a dream."
The drummer met Prince in 1978 and became his bandmate, lover and lifelong confidant: “We were together for so long, I don’t know when we weren’t.”
This jazz pianist and R&B singer reportedly inspired Prince’s first top 40 hit, 1979’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” and turned down his future hit “I Feel for You.”
As the story goes, Prince wrote “When Doves Cry” about his relationship with this Apollonia 6 member, who appeared in 1984’s Purple Rain.
Denise Matthews was a 22-year-old model from Toronto before Prince played Svengali and shaped her into the leader of Vanity 6, an all-girl trio that performed in lingerie and had a 1982 disco smash with his composition “Nasty Girl” -- which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart, only to be supplanted by Prince’s “1999.”
“Little Red Corvette” inspired Nicks to write her 1983 solo hit “Stand Back,” which features Prince playing uncredited keyboards.
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, model-singer Patricia Kotero became one of Prince’s most famous protegees with her co-starring role in Purple Rain.
Wendy & Lisa
Lisa Coleman (right) joined The Revolution when keyboardist Gayle Chapman left in 1980. Three years later, when guitarist Dez Dickerson exited for religious reasons, she recommended her childhood friend Wendy Melvoin for his replacement. Together, they became essential partners in Purple Rain (the film and tour) and the 1986 movie Under the Cherry Moon.
Prince planned to have Wendy’s twin sister -- and his girlfriend at the time -- co-star in the film Under the Cherry Moon, but she couldn’t act, so she was cut.
Prince’s “I Feel for You” first appeared on his 1979 self-titled album, but the Queen of Funk’s 1984 reworking won its songwriter a 1985 Grammy for best R&B song.
Prince helped boost the Scottish-born singer’s profile with the controversial single “Sugar Walls,” then featured her on his 1987 hit “U Got the Look.”
The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs
Prince met the lead singer of the then-budding female-fronted band when it was opening for Cyndi Lauper. Impressed with Hoffs, Prince gave her “Manic Monday,” a tune about 9-to-5 office life that was originally written for Rushen. The 1986 single went to become The Bangles’ biggest hit, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Kristin Scott Thomas
Prince helped launch this future Oscar nominee’s career when he cast her as his love interest in Under the Cherry Moon -- his directorial debut and the British actress’s first film.
The Chicago native performed as a background vocalist and dancer with Prince in the late ’80s, touring with him for 1987’s Sign O’ the Times and 1988’s Lovesexy.
Onscreen, she was Bruce Wayne foil Vicki Vale in 1989’s Batman. Offscreen, she was having a torrid affair with Prince, the pop star behind the film’s soundtrack.
In 1990, the Irish singer-songwriter became an international star with her haunting cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100.
This 22-year-old poet met Prince in a Minneapolis bar and became the muse for Lovesexy. She later played his love interest in 1990’s Graffiti Bridge.
Tara Leigh Patrick moved to California in 1991, when she met Prince, who became her lover and de facto branding manager. “You’re not a Tara,” he advised. “You’re Carmen.”
In 1987, Prince’s manager called the gospel doyenne, who hadn’t been able to get a record contract in a decade, to arrange a meeting. The Staple Singers member was so charmed by Prince, she started writing him letters and eventually recorded two albums on his Paisley Park Records label: 1989’s Time Waits for No One and 1993’s The Voice.
Prince’s first wife was his backup dancer, who married the artist in 1996 and gave birth to his only child, Boy Gregory, who died a week after he was born.
Prince wrote four songs for this former TV star’s 1999 album, Martika’s Kitchen, and produced the lead single, Hot 100 No. 10 hit “Love … Thy Will Be Done.”
Prince met his second wife, a Canadian businesswoman, while she worked at one of the singer’s charities. Married in 2001, they divorced in 2006.
One of the singer’s last known girlfriends, the former Prince protegee and backup dancer became a Jehovah’s Witness when the couple began dating in 2007.
The American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American principal dancer, Copeland starred in Prince’s 2009 video “Crimson and Clover” and traveled with his Welcome 2 America Tour.
Prince’s all-female backing band, the trio consists of drummer Hannah Welton, guitarist Donna Grantis and bassist Ida Kristine Nielsen. They made their debut on the album Plectrumelectrum in 2014 and went on to collaborate with the singer for his 2015 HITnRUN Tour.
Lianne La Havas
In 2014, this British soul singer hosted a private Prince performance in her London living room, then appeared with him in 2015 on Saturday Night Live.