September 17, 1998 12:00 AM

At a highly unusual press conference yesterday in New York, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince (and then as some strange symbol that stood for his name) announced that forevermore he would like to be known as Prince. “On Dec. 31, 1999, my publishing contract with Warner-Chappell expired, thus emancipating the name I was given before birth — Prince — from all long-term restrictive documents,” the Minneapolis rocker (who was born Prince Rogers Nelson) told the crowd. “I will now go back to using my name instead of the symbol I adopted to free myself from all undesirable relationships.” That matter cleared up, a reporter got on to an important issue of the day: Did Prince, 41, think he could beat Michael Jackson in an arm-wrestling contest? Prince just laughed.

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