Funk veteran Prince will next month release a new album, and embark on his first major tour in six years, but warned Tuesday that the concerts will be the last time fans get to hear his hits for a while.
So far, 26 dates are scheduled, starting March 29 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and wrapping June 12 at CenturyTel Center in Bossier, La.
Announcing the tour Tuesday in Los Angeles, Prince played the jazz-infused title track from the new album, “Musicology.” Explaining his fresh material -- label distribution is still being negotiated -- Prince said, “’Musicology’ is very important to us. The word means that when we create music, we let it dictate our next moves in life.”
Old favorites will also be part of the tour, which will be presented in the round. But Prince warned that these gigs will be the last time fans will be able hear his classics for a while, since he is “wanting to make room for new music.”
Prince also said he was hoping to provide free “Musicology” CDs to those who buy concert tickets. “Usually the people who purchase concert tickets, they’ve been supportive of my music for a long time -- for over 20 years now,” he said.
More stops will be added to the tour, including in major markets such as Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Houston, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., Seattle, San Francisco and New York.
A few dates are currently on sale, with tickets priced between $50-75. The bulk of the shows go on sale this weekend. An international leg is expected, as Prince noted, “We want to go around the world and probably go back again.”
New Power Generation band members joining Prince on the road and on the new album include John Blackwell (drums), Greg Boyer (trombone), Candy Dulfer (saxophone), Chance Howard (trumpet), Renato Neto (piano and synthesizers), Maceo Parker (saxophone), RAD (vocals and keyboards), and Rhonda Smith (bass).
Other confirmed performances include May 29 at the annual Tiger Woods-sponsored Tiger Jam in Las Vegas and a headlining spot at the July 2-4 Essence Festival in New Orleans.
Prince says he will let fans download “Musicology” tracks from his NPG Music Club Web site in the weeks ahead. Members would pay $0.77 per song, while non-members would be charged $0.99.
“We’re talking to several labels at once,” said the artist, who had an infamous falling out with Warner Bros. in the ’90s. His decision will be based, he says on “The record company most hyped about pushing the product.” He is serious about promoting “Musicology” and is “asking labels if they can guarantee their work.”
Prince will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame March 16 in New York. Leading up to the event, the artist is confirmed to appear and perform Wednesday (March 3) on the syndicated “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”