John L. Nelson

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John L. Nelson
Birth name John Lewis Nelson
Born (1916-06-29)June 29, 1916
Louisiana, U.S.
Died August 25, 2001(2001-08-25) (aged 85)
Chanhassen, Minnesota, U.S.
Years active 1948—1966
Associated acts Prince, The Prince Rogers Trio

John Lewis Nelson (June 29, 1916 – August 25, 2001), also known as Prince Rogers, was an American jazz musician. He is known for being the father of the musician Prince and a credited co-writer of some of his songs.

Life and career[edit]

John L. Nelson was born in Louisiana, the son of Carrie (Jenkins) and Clarence Nelson. He traveled to Minneapolis to become a musician in 1948. Playing the piano, he used Prince Rogers as a stage name and started The Prince Rogers Trio with local musicians.

John L. Nelson maintained an on-off relationship with Vivian Nelson. With her, he had four children: Sharon L. (born 1942), Lorna L. (1943—2006), Norrine (born 1947), and John R. (born 1948).[1] John L. Nelson had another son, Duane, with Vivian in 1958.[2][3]

In 1956, he met Mattie Della Shaw (1933—2002), at a show on the north side of Minneapolis. Shaw was an aspiring jazz musician who became the musical group's singer. John L. Nelson married Shaw and had two more children, musician Prince[4] on June 7, 1958 (who was named after his father's stage name) and daughter Tika Evene (usually known as Tyka) in 1960. When John L. Nelson's career failed in late 1960, the couple became estranged and formally separated in 1966.

John L. Nelson died on August 25, 2001, aged 85, in his home in Chanhassen, Minnesota. That year Prince dedicated Joni Mitchel's song "A Case Of U", on his "One Nite Alone..." album, to his father.


  • Sharon L. Nelson (1940)
  • Lorna L. Nelson (1943—2006)
  • Norrine Nelson (1947)
  • John R. Nelson (1948)
  • Prince Rogers Nelson (1958)
  • Duane Joseph Nelson (1958—2011)
  • Tyka Evene Nelson (1960)

Work with Prince[edit]

John L. Nelson was a major influence on Prince's music, writing (or co-writing) some music which was released by his son in the 1980s. With some of these songs, Prince gave John L. Nelson a co-writing credit for using chord sequences John L. Nelson often used, rather than John L. Nelson actually co-writing the songs with Prince.

ASCAP credits, or co-credits, him with the following:


  1. ^ "Obituary Lorna L. Nelson". Star Tribune. October 26, 2006. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  2. ^ J., C. (March 10, 2011). "Funeral for Prince's half-brother, Duane Nelson, is Saturday". Star Tribune. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Obituary Duane Joseph Nelson". Star Tribune. March 10, 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "John Nelson". The Independent (London). September 1, 2001. Archived from the original on 1 February 2012. Retrieved May 6, 2010.