updated 04/28/2009 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/28/2009 AT 10:30 AM ET
What prompted the flashy, eccentric persona that helped make Prince a king of the music world? The singer reveals he was compensating for a painful childhood struggle with epilepsy.
“I’ve never spoken about this before but I was born epileptic,” the reclusive singer told PBS’s Tavis Smiley in an interview Monday night. “I used to have seizures when I was young. My mother and father didn’t know what to do or how to handle it but they did the best they could with what little they had.”
Prince also cites divine intervention for helping him cope with his epilepsy. “My mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore,’ and she said ‘Why?’ and I said ‘Because an angel told me so.’ Now, I don’t remember saying it, that’s just what she told me.”
But his struggle didn’t end there. “From that point on, I’ve been having to deal with a lot of things, getting teased a lot in school,” he said. “And early in my career I tried to compensate by being as flashy as I could and as noisy as I could.”
The singer, who is promoting his latest album, the three-disc set LotusFlow3r, concludes his two-part Tavis Smiley interview tonight.