Pop superstar Prince has signed a record deal with COLUMBIA RECORDS - ending his eight-year exile as an independent artist.

The PURPLE RAIN singer - who once complained he was a "slave" to one former record label - has secured a deal with the SONY-owned company.

The worldwide deal initially covers only the musician's upcoming album MUSICOLOGY - to be released in America on 20 April (04) - and coincides with Prince's first tour in six years.

DON LENNER, president of Sony Music US, says, "I look forward to working closely with Prince as we bring Musicology to audiences across the country and throughout the world."

Prince adds, "I am really an artist and musician at heart, that's what I do.

"Musicology has no boundaries or formats.

"It is long overdue to return to the art and craft of music - that's what this album is about. School's in session."

24/03/2004 13:41