Prince axes his band — and name

A song on Prince’s last album declared, “My name is Prince.” Now it isn’t. But what is it?

The Minneapolis-born pop star celebrated his 35th birthday Monday by changing his name and announcing he’s breaking from his band.

From now on, Prince wants to be referred to as symbol , a symbol that combines the symbols for male and female, his publicist said. The same combination symbol serves as the title for his latest album.

The symbol has appeared in symbol videos, on his concert stages and on his clothing and guitar. Apparently there’s no spoken word for it.

“This is not a joke. This is very serious,” said Karen Lee, VP publicity for the performer’s Paisley Park Records in Los Angeles. The musician has not revealed a pronunciation for the name. Lee said he was signing the symbol at a recent autograph session at a record store in Atlanta.

Symbol also announced he’s separating from the New Power Generation, although the band will open for and play with him on his European tour. No reason was given for either change.

He has recorded and toured with the NPG since 1990. The band recently completed a solo recording project and is expected to reunite with him on future projects, publicist Michael Pagnotta said.

Symbol opens a five-week European tour July 26in Sheffield, England. Other stops include Sweden, Norway, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Germany, France and Belgium.

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