Michael Jackson and Prince are musical legends and gone way too soon. Throughout their amazing careers the two megastars enjoyed great successes. They both came of age in the 80s as young men and as solo performers. Both seemed to be children of destiny, born to entertain, to amuse, to inspire, to delight, and to touch. Through their music, they took us to the edge of our level of comfort, to the heights of exhilaration and to the depths of our emotional truth. As true child prodigies as well as mature artists, their music helped to not only shape the 80s, it continued to evolve and define whatever genre they addressed.
They are also a study of type 4. Because they were stars and affluent so young they could fully indulge their types, instincts and Tritypes and live their lives as true eccentrics. Their passions could be indulged and were seen on a large stage because they were in the public eye. Both were shy, introverted and private men that were charismatic superstars. In spite of their shyness were totally at home on stage sharing their talents with the world at large.
4 and Emotional Sensitivity
I see both men as Enneagram type 4. 4s are known for their need for connection to what is meaningful and transcendent.
They are also known for their love of beauty and aesthetics, their chronic frustration and passion for protest, their painful self-consciousness and push-pull, love-hate style of relating, and their deep emotional sensitivity and compassion for the suffering of others.
The idealized image of the 4 is that they are elite, original, individualistic, tasteful, creative and have an artistic sensibility. The core fear of 4 is the fear being inadequate, ordinary, flawed and/or defective. At their best, 4s are articulate, sensitive, introspective and compassionate with a strong desire to heal and transform by protesting against injustices and by giving meaning to suffering. At their worst, 4s are hypersensitive, petty, envious, vindictive, self-absorbed, punishing and temperamental.
Male 4s are complex in that they have the single-minded masculine drive to initiate and conquer but it is tempered by a great deal of emotional sensitivity due to the 4 need for depth, connection, admiration and validation. This sensitivity makes the 4 aware of nuances others miss but also creates painful self-consciousness and self-doubt that undermines their self-confidence. Male 4s are often poets and troubadours that express what they feel and in so doing, frequently express what we all feel. This proved to be very true for both Michael and Prince. So, their simultaneous rise to fame in the 80s reinforced the power of raw edgy creativity, laced with refinement, subtlety and heartfelt emotions.
Going the route of the power ballad was an absolute given in the 1980s even if you were in a hard rock band. The raw emotional truth of the ballad voiced universal pain. For most hardcore rock bands, ballads were often career defining.
Both Michael and Prince loved ballads but not in the traditional way. Rather than an occasional ballad, their feelings were infused in every piece of their music, from the raw energy of pop rock to the tender sensibility of emotional expression.
Michael and Prince were able to express their wide range of emotions in such a poetic way that listeners could identify with both their music and their lyrics. ‘Gone Too Soon’ by Michael Jackson and ‘Purple Rain’ by Prince are only two examples of their ability to express deep and universal emotions.
‘Gone too Soon’ is a song dedicated to Ryan White, a young victim of AIDS who Michael befriended. He performed ‘Gone too Soon’ at the ball for former President Bill Clinton's first inauguration on January 20, 1993, where he highlighted the importance of supporting research for a cure for AIDS.
Prince was famous for being self-conscious and was portrayed as image conscious. ‘Purple Rain’ is a deeply moving song. It is also the title of a movie in which Prince starred. ‘Purple Rain’ was a movie of course, but it has always been reported as very close to being autobiographical. So to introduce himself to the mainstream audience as fragile and occasionally cruel could have killed his rising career. This probably took great courage. This raw honesty and is another hallmark of 4.
Sexual 4s deny their fear of rejection and reject first to manage their distress. They can be counter-envious and shameless if they are experiencing an intense emotion. They claim their position as the state of longing feels unbearable. In fact, because they are the most emotional type, with the most emotional instinct in the most emotional ‘heart’ center, when triggered they can be emotionally over the top. One sexual 4 said, “I knew I was the sexual 4 because when I feel rejected I am incredibly jealous, possessive, demanding, emotionally volatile, dramatic, intense, aggressive, loving and idealistic as hell - all rolled into one and at the same time.”
Van Jones, a human rights activist, humanitarian and close friend of Prince revealed more about the private life of Prince. According to Jones, “Prince rarely spoke about himself and, especially not about Purple Rain. Prince was always front and center, inspiring devotion and disgruntlement. Purple Rain may not be an autobiography, but it may be as close as we’ll get to his true story.”
Here is another interview with Van Jones talking about Prince.
Most 4s are humanitarians at heart. The 4s innate ability to demonstrate compassion for those that are suffering is a gift. Michael Jackson and Prince had that gift in spades. They were true humanitarians and did a great deal to support those that were suffering throughout the world. Both had an interest in helping children. There is so much I could say about both men. Just to name a couple of examples…
In 1985, Michael co-wrote ‘We are the World’ with Lionel Ritchie for those starving in Africa. He also donated all the money he received from Pepsi, $1.5 million, to the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children. As a Jehovah’s Witness he did not speak of his generosity.
Prince was also a devout Jehovah’s Witness, so he too could not speak of his charitable works but he did a great deal to support suffering as well. Privately, Prince supported ‘Rebuild the Dream’, a mobilization of hundreds of thousands of everyday people who come together to build strong vibrant communities from the ground up. He donated $250,000 to Eau Claire Promise Zone, a citywide grassroots coalition focused on ensuring the city’s children are prepared to graduate from college and be successful in their career and in life.
It is reported that Michael and Prince had a bitter rivalry. One report is that Michael was disappointed that Prince rebuffed his friendly efforts to be friends. Another report is that Prince did not want to sing in ‘We are the World’ because he did not like the song but was willing to write a song for those suffering in Africa. He also appeared elitist when he mocked Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ in an interview. Whatever the case may be, they were first and foremost performers and artists. The performer that is a 4 is every bit as competitive as the performer that is the 3 or any of the other types. In fact, 4 envy may have been at the heart of their rumored rivalry.
Both men were constantly compared to one another. Both had diversity in their music, including: funk, R&B and disco. Both dominated the album charts in the 80s, Michael with ‘Thriller’ and Prince with ‘Purple Rain’. Both were shy and reclusive. Both had their sanctuaries, Neverland for Michael and Paisley Park for Prince.
Facts on their potential rivalry
Michael Jackson vs. Prince: The Forgotten Rivalry
By Kyle Anderson
“…The evidence suggests that the rivalry was for real, but perhaps one sided. On his 2004 album Musicology, Prince had a lyric that went, “My voice is getting higher/And Eye ain’t never had my nose done/That’s the other guy.” He left “We Are The World” sessions but did end up donating a song to the benefit album. However, recent interviews with former Prince band members shared a friendlier side.
“They’d shoot hoops at Paisley Park,” longtime Prince drummer Bobby Z told the Star-Tribune. Prince had a deep-seeded competitive nature, so it’s easy to see where he would measure himself against Jackson’s success. Engineer David Z told a story about Prince’s attempt to play ping-pong with Jackson. “Michael drops his paddle and holds his hands up in front of his face so the ball won’t hit him. Michael walks out with his bodyguard, and Prince starts strutting around like a rooster. Did you see that? He played like Helen Keller.'”
Jackson didn’t seem to go on record about Prince — in fact, he rarely had a negative word for anybody. Today it’s almost logical for two huge stars to go head-to-head (Jay-Z and Nas, 50 Cent and Kanye West), but it’s doubtful we’ll ever see two huge rivals like Jackson and Prince again.”
All performers are competitive as a competitive edge is essential to reach the pinnacle of success performers crave. Both Michael and Prince were known to be competitive and perfectionistic. All true artists are not only competitive; they are perfectionistic about their work. They honed their craft and wanted to deliver the experience they envisioned. This is essential for any artist that wants to stay at the top of their field. But the sexual 4 is known for their competitive nature and hatred as a means for overcoming feelings of envy and inadequacy. And, the 479s are known for their sunny dispositions and gentle nature.
Michael Jackson 479
I see Michael as the social 479 Tritype, which has a mystical, magical, ethereal, soothing, and healing quality to it. The 479 energy is very receptive and accepting, like a gentle spirit. With Michael’s songs we felt his emotions when he debuted in 1964 at the tender age of 6. Even in his counter culture roles he was soft. When he introduced “Thriller” he was dramatic and edgy but still appeared non-threatening.
If you watch Michael in any interview, it is easy to see that Michael had an overall countenance of fragile gentleness. He gave off the aura of someone that needed too be cared for and protected. He was bashful, refined and introspective like the introverted and inhibited social 4 often is. You can see his gentle, smiling and ethereal nature in the interview with Oprah.
As one social 4 remarked, “ I am always trying to improve my status. I never feel like I belong or have enough class and breeding to be included with those I am impressed with. I never quite find my people, and often feel left out.” Another social 4 said, “ I am always waiting to be found out… and that I don’t measure up to my own standards.”
Both 4 and 7 are creative. Both love fantasy and the unusual as well as the new, the novel and the creative. 7 brings a light touch, the egalitarian perspective, and a strong desire for excitement and amusement. It also brings a need for variety, as well as positive and upbeat interactions.
Michael felt like he lost his childhood to his career. He began working as a little boy as the lead singer in the family business of the Jackson 5. He had a hard driving, abusive father that relentlessly had his sons rehearse so there was no time for childhood activities.
Michael loved the attention his career and success provided but he still longed for the happy childhood he did not have. He is said to have been sad about his childhood so wanted to recreate his childhood with more joyous memories by having all the things he felt he missed and wanted as a child. His focus was to create happier experiences and new memories. This is often indicative of the type 4 especially with the 479 Tritype. The focus for all 4s is on what is missing and perceived to be valuable and out of reach.
The 479 is the 4 that hides their sadness because they fear people will reject them if they show it. Both 7 and 9 are happy characters on the Enneagram. This is why the 4 with the 479 Tritype is considered the happy, positive 4.
One social 479 reported, “People like me because I am deep, fun, soft, accepting and gentle. I often have ugly emotions and hateful thoughts but I am afraid if I share them I will no longer be thought of as the special person that is so ‘evolved, kind and spiritual’, So, I suffer in silence.”
You could see Michael’s 7 amplifying the 4’s desire for fantasy. His approach to music was always innovative and changing. His love of the unusual could be seen in his Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara. Neverland was the epitome of the 479 love of fantasy and idealism. Walt Disney, shared the same Tritype only with 7 in the lead. As the 749, he created Disneyland based on the same love of fantasy, joy and idealism.
The 479 is magical, mystical, unusual, creative, individualistic, gentle, harmonizing and enduring. The 9s need for okness combined with the 7s need for joy makes this 4 focus on more fantastical idealized circumstances. Michael, due to his wealth, could indulge his fantasies.
Neverland, Michael’s property, was named for ‘Neverland’, the fantasy island in the story of Peter Pan, about a boy who never grows up. The 479 Tritype is very much like Peter Pan; they are forever young at heart with a childlike sense of wonder. Neverland was his home and his private amusement park. It contained a petting zoo, two railroads, a Ferris wheel, Carousel, Zipper, Octopus, Pirate Ship, Wave Swinger, Super Slide, roller coaster, bumper cars, and an amusement arcade.
You could also see the touch of fantasy in his attire. He dressed like a character in a play or in a circus, and matched the look and feel of his amusement Park. His clothing was creative, stylized, theatrical and beautifully embellished with details. He often set fashion trends. His silver glove, born of aesthetic necessity to hide the lack of pigment on his hand due to vitiligo, (a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches) became a fashion statement. He was known for his trademark jackets.
The 9 can be seen in his gentleness, kindness, stubbornness and avoidance of conflict. He also appeared to be very elusive and passive. We can see the 9 and 7 in the way he described himself to his friend, Jason Pfeiffer. Jason, in a Noise11 interview said that Michael thought his daughter Paris had picked up his traits of being stubborn, intelligent and mischievous as well as his lust for life, laughing and being the center of attention. We can see the 4 and 9 in his withdrawn and quiet side, which amplified his shyness and feelings of inhibition.
His social instinct could be seen in his focus on others. One example is the building of the amusement park and then bringing children to enjoy it. An amusement park is a social activity. It is a place where people come together to enjoy themselves. So he recreated the ideal childhood experience and shared it with others. This is what he felt he missed as a child even though he came from a large family, he felt lonely.
He debuted with the Jackson 5 when he was at the tender age of 6. He went solo in 1971 and was successful but he truly came of age in 1982 when he was 24 with ‘Thriller’. ‘We are the World’ co-written with Lionel Ritchie followed in 1985 with USA for Africa. It is a social subtype song as it is about helping others and recognizing that we are all one big family. Bringing together artists from all over the world to raise money for those starving in Africa by singing “We are the World” is a great example of the high side of the social instinct.
Fun facts about Michael
Michael has two stars in Hollywood, one with the Jackson 5 and one for his solo career. He won 8 Grammy Awards in 1984 and was declared the most famous person in the world in 1997.
I see Prince as the sx 478 Tritype. The 478 is also a mystical and magical Tritype like the 479 as both share the 4 and 7. However, with 8 in this Tritype the 478 is driven by the raw, intense, authentic, edgy, innovating and the powerful. They are more grounded and less ethereal. This Tritype takes a deep dive into whatever captures their interest. They amass so much data on a subject that intrigues them that they become experts. The self-revealing humanitarian side shapes what they have learned into a message they then share with others. This Tritype of 4 is constantly changing, innovating and evolving.
The 7 in his tritype can be seen with his love of and use of color, diversity and a need to be positive. He is said to have had disdain for drama. He stated in the Larry King Interview that he was always focused on what is now and that he did not look back. He said he didn’t like labels but would call his music inspirational. His said that he doesn’t wallow and moves on.
This 4 is the most self-confident 4. The sexual 4 is focused on being inspirational. The 7 and 8 disapprove of the 4’s need to express their negative emotions. So they express their feelings through creative outlets.
The 8 in his Tritype can be seen in his expressions and attitude. When he fought for his artistic rights with Warner Brothers, he wrote ‘slave’ on his face in defiance of the record company. You can also see 8 in the way he toys with his interviewers. He had a sardonic sense of humor. In the Larry King interview he toys with Larry about a word that Larry made up. When Prince said that he didn’t look back, Larry said so you aren’t a‘remineser’? Prince asked Larry if that was a word. We can see Prince’s micro expressions and he displayed a true smile when Larry said he made it up like Prince had his symbol.
Prince was extremely articulate in all of his interviews. 4s are usually very articulate. Michael was as well. We can see the 4 and 8 in his piercing intensity. He exaggerated his hair and make up. He was flashy but refined and elegant at the same time. He was described as flamboyant, but with my experience of 4s, I learned that they hate that terms flamboyant and gaudy and prefer creative, intense, bold and colorful instead. So my guess is that he did not like that characterization of his look. We can see the 7 and 8 in his autonomy and dry sense of humor.
As one sexual 4 described his experience of being the sexual 478, “ You are the most powerful and transformative during your sexual or emotional peak moments, to the point when you unite the primal with the Divine.” This journey can be heard in Prince’s songs. He focuses on the romantic and the sexual, weaving them together with ecstasy, pain and suffering.
As a sexual 4, Prince did this with intimates or by selecting a charitable cause that touched him personally in some way. He was an anonymous charitable donor. 478s are more hidden and stealth on one hand and bold and assertive on the other. The 478 does not need as much validation as the other 4s as they feel more self-possessed due to the 8 in the Tritype. They can still be shy and inhibited but they do not have as much self-doubt and shine once they feel more at ease.
478s are often creative with an eye for design as this Tritype has the creative type in each center. Everything Prince did had his signature look and a very personal touch. He had a passion for purple and was called the ‘Purple One’ and his fans were called the Purple Army. He designed his symbol that represented his emancipation from his limiting Warner contracts. He designed his Valentine’s Day china for his February 14th wedding to Mayte. The Lenox china plates had piano keys around the edge of the plate with a gilt gold edge along with his insignia, his symbol for Prince united with an M in the middle for his beloved Mayte.
The sexual instinct can also be heard in his songs. His lyrics were very intimate, sexual and deeply personal. In ‘Purple Rain’ he delivered a message of pain and loss that had universal appeal. Prince’s songs and lyrics were mostly about the dynamic between lovers. The lyrics in ‘When Doves Cry’ are about the intimacy of the kiss and an ensuing lover’s quarrel. In the song he is trying to understand why he is left standing alone. It is raw and vulnerable. This is another hallmark of the 4 as 4s repetitively over-analyze their emotions to make sense of their pain and give meaning to their suffering.
His 478 could be seen in the look and feel of his attire. This Tritype loves the pirate look, leather and lace, creative innovation, adornment, opulent beautiful fabrics and edgy elegance. He had a personal style that was individualistic and enduring. It combined a unique presentation of his trademark purple with a touch of seduction, subtle sexiness and mystery.
Prince wrote his first song when he was 7. He began performing in a nightclub in Minneapolis and signed his first contract for a demo at 17. Stevie Wonder, who could play 8 instruments, inspired Prince. So young Prince made a name for himself by being able to play 27 instruments. In 1978 he landed a recording contract at the age of 18. He came of age in 1984 with his movie ‘Purple Rain’ and album of the same name. He won an academy award for best original song score in 1985 at the age of 27. He was insanely prolific and played all 27 instruments on his debut record, For Y
A little more on Prince
Friends of Prince have reported that he was very compassionate. They remarked that they didn’t hear from him when they were doing really well but he watched the news and if they or someone else had a bad day and something was going wrong, he knew it and called the person in distress. Van said that if you were down on your luck Prince called.
He rehearsed 150 songs so he could play what he felt like.
He loved performing and jamming and often played 3 gigs in a night. True, creative genius that never stopped changing…
Writer, singer, dancer, played all instruments, conductor, producer, actor.
When Prince was on the Arsenio Hall Show and appeared on most of the one-hour late-night program, his aura was perforated even more cleanly. The show began with an interview between Prince and Arsenio Hall. Arsenio joked more than once that he might have to edit certain parts out, but Prince surprised many with this playfulness in the Q&A. Prince showed his humor and answered all the questions he was asked. This is the side of Prince his friends all knew.
Arsenio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUVZW6-rZKw Prince
4s and Meaning
As 4s, Michael and Prince was always seem to focus on what the music meant to them. Both Michael Jackson and Prince had painful childhoods. Both had suffered loss. Both had witnessed and experienced harsh discipline at the hands of their fathers. Both loved their mothers. Having said that, I would suggest that as a social 4, Michael played the roles of the characters on his albums such as the anti-establishment, angry man he portrayed in ‘Thriller.’ And as a sexual 4, Prince played himself such as the role of the shy, caring, deep, introspective, uncompromising, self-absorbed and a little cruel, ‘up and coming’ musical artist he played in ‘Purple Rain’.
Both men were amazing examples of the 4 with 7 in the Tritype. They tried to focus on the positive but expressed their pain through their music. They both loved beauty and adornment, and designed clothing with embellished details. They were both sensitive and inhibited introverts but they were innovative, magical and inspiring. They were dynamic, creative and individualistic trendsetters. They were legends in their own time and their music will live on. They both have left deep and lasting imprints.