8 Famous Women Who Were Once Prince's Muses and How He Boosted Their Careers
By Raphael Chestang
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ET is shining a spotlight on some of the women who owe much of their success to Prince but also provided inspiration for some of his greatest works.
The icon was pronounced dead on Thursday morning after being found unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota. In a press conference on Friday, Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson confirmed that Prince was the only one at the residence the night before his death and that there were no obvious signs of trauma on his body.
While fans all over the world continue to mourn the GRAMMY winner, perhaps none are more hurt by the news than the women that knew him best.
1. Carmen Electra
As one of Prince's proteges and an early signee to his Paisley Park Records, the singer and actress (whose real name is Tara Leigh Patrick) credits Prince with reinventing her and changing her name to Carmen. She reportedly dated the late legendary musician after meeting him in 1991, but their romance was short-lived.
"We did end up having a romance," Electra told ET. "I remember he said, 'I believe in you and I want people to take you serious. And if people know that you're my girlfriend, they're going to think that I'm just doing this for you because you're my girlfriend."
2. Apollonia Kotero
To this day, the actress is still best known for playing Prince's Purple Rain love interest. When the movie came out in 1984, she was coy about the nature of their relationship.
"I don't kiss and tell, but watch the movie," Kotero told ET at the time. "We really like each other. We work together. We sing together. We write the lyrics. We share clothes. We really care for each other. We have respect."
Denise Matthews, better known as Vanity, met Prince at the American Music Awards in 1980 and the two soon hit it off. Prince renamed Matthews, Vanity, seeing her as the female form of himself.
Prince later placed Vanity as the lead singer of the girl group Vanity 6, but Vanity disbanded the group after their debut release in 1982.
"Of course Prince discovered me," she told ET in 1985. "I think it was fate that brought us together, and it was great."
Vanity died in February, also at age 57, from kidney failure. Her ailments were reportedly the result of years of crack cocaine abuse before she became in the '90s.
4. Kim Basinger
In 1989, Prince released a single called "The Scandalous Sex Suite" for the Batman soundtrack, which featured moans that were attributed to Batman star Basinger. The actress' vocal contributions were rumored to have been taken from recordings of the two having sex.
5. Mayte Garcia
Prince wed Garcia on Valentine's Day in 1996 when he was 37 and she was his 22-year-old backup singer and dancer. After their nuptials, Garcia became pregnant with their first child, and Prince shared with ET the joy he felt during the experience.
"The most profound thing that has happened to me is the way I view women now," Prince told ET in 1997. "Going through my wife's pregnancy had a really powerful effect on me. It just gave me the utmost respect for all of women."
Sadly their baby boy died just seven days after he was born due to Pfeiffer syndrome, a rare skull defect that causes pressure on the brain. The estranged couple would announce their breakup in 1998 when their union was annulled.
6. Sheila E.
The percussionist and singer wrote in her memoir The Beat of My Own Drum that she dated her late mentor in the '80s, and even claimed that they were engaged.
"It just kind of gradually happened, it wasn't forced," she said about how their relationship turned romantic. "We just like a lot of the same things, and then things we didn't agree on were good things we were glad we didn't agree on."
"We were both very competitive and always tried to outdo each other -- with everything from clothes to playing ping pong and basketball and pool, who could stay up the longest and record and, I mean, there's just a lot of crazy moments," she also recalls. "This was 38 years of stuff with him."
The model, dancer and singer came under Prince's tutelage as a teenager. The Minnesota native told Tavis Smiley in 2009 that she first met Prince at Paisley Park Studios when she was 17. The two reportedly began dating in 2010.
Prince handpicked the world-renowned ballerina to appear in his "Crimson & Clover" video in 2009 while Copeland was still relatively unknown. Last year, Copeland was named American Ballet Theatre's first African-American principal dancer in its 75-year history.