Prince announces London tour

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LONDON - Rock star Prince will play 21 concerts in London this autumn and plans to take time off music to study the Bible, he announced on Tuesday.

The innovative funk artist, who created such groundbreaking works as 1984's "Purple Rain" and 1987's "Sign O' The Times" and sold an estimated 80 million albums, made a brief appearance in the city to announce the gigs.

Outside Organization, a PR company helping to publicize the tour, said in a statement that Prince would be performing his greatest hits "for the very last time," but the artist did not confirm the claim.

Wearing dark shades, a high-collared purple shirt and cream suit, Prince explained why his only appearances in Europe this year would take place in London.

"I love London. I've had some of my favorite shows here."

Prince said he would be looking for a place to live for the duration of his stay.

He will charge 31.21 pounds per ticket ($62), after his recent record "3121," with which he scored his first U.S. No. 1 album in almost 17 years in 2006.

"Last time I was here, a lot of people didn't get to see me, so we're trying to make it affordable for everybody," he said.

Barbra Streisand recently hit the headlines in Britain when tickets to her upcoming show at the 02 venue in London went on sale for up to 600 pounds each. Prince plans to open his London tour with seven nights at the same location, starting August 1.

Prince said he planned to change his show every night, meaning fans who came to several shows would get a broader cross section of his music.

"We play so many different styles of music, it's really hard to get a full dose of what we do unless you come to several shows. I also have a wide fan base that comes to multiple shows all the time."

He said he had learned about 150 songs from which to choose, and hinted that he may perform up-and-coming British singer Amy Winehouse's "Love is a Losing Game." Asked if he would ask her on stage to perform with him, he replied: "Absolutely."

Unsurprisingly for a performer who has had run-ins with the music establishment in the past, Prince referred to the industry as "the speculation business." He plans to give away copies of his new album to anyone attending the concerts.

"It's direct marketing and I don't have to be in the speculation business of the record industry, which is going through a lot of tumultuous times right now," he explained, when asked why he was giving his music away.

The 48-year-old, who said he was getting his inspiration these days from "prophets from the Bible," added that he did not expect to be back in London performing for some time after the 2007 visit.

"That's another reason why we're trying to stay so long. I just need to take some time off for study and travel." When asked what he was studying, he replied: "The Bible."
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