Prince Courts Even More Name Confusion with ‘The Sacrifice of Victor’: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Change was stirring for Prince in October 1992 when he released an album titled with an unpronounceable symbol. The record became known as the Love Symbol Album, and before long Prince became known by a variety of names.
The record, Prince's 14th overall and the second credited to Prince and the New Power Generation, was rife with religious and biblical allusions, while also offering a loose account of his life, however fictionalized. But when confusion soon abounded about Prince's changing identity, the public grasped whatever they could, and suddenly the album seemed to blur the lines between fact and fiction a bit too well.
The Love Symbol Album begins with "My Name Is Prince," on which he sings "In the beginning God made the sea / But on the seventh day he made me." But eight months before he changed his name to the symbol that graced the record — what appeared to be intertwined designations for male and female — he announces on the final track, "The Sacrifice of the Victor," that "When I reach my destination / My name will be Victor."
Seems simple enough, right? The album represented his metamorphosis. For the media and the public, who were looking for a way to discuss the man and his music, they assigned him a number of identifiers. They resorted to The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and eventually, The Artist. But for a time, they also tried out "Victor." Some even went so far as to break down the symbol, showing how its pieces can be reconfigured to form the letters V-I-C-T-O-R. But while the song, an upbeat track influenced, by lyrically and musically by gospel, seems to follow an exaggerated account of Prince's life — including his history with seizures, child abuse, courting former wife Mayte and more — and sacrifices, it's more likely that he intended the phase as yet another allusion: this time to a play on the proverb "to the victor go the spoils." When listeners found such identifications book-ending the record, however, they assigned it greater, literal meaning.
But they were wrong. On his Act II tour, which began shortly after he changed his name, he regularly proclaimed, "My name ain't Prince, and it damn well ain't Victor," a phrase captured in London for the video The Sacrifice of the Victor, which featured a condensed version of an aftershow — although he doesn't perform the song.
Seven years later, Prince very simply explained his name change to Larry King: He was finding religion. "I wanted to move to a new plateau in my life and one of the ways in which I did that was to change my name, to sort of divorce me from the past," but he wasn't telling the whole story. At the time, Prince had also wanted out of his contract with Warner Bros. He not only changed his name, but also began performing with the word "slave" written on his cheek, before returning to his original moniker when he left the label.