On April 21, 2016, music legend Prince died at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota at the age of 57.
On April 7, Prince had postponed two performances from his “Piano and a Microphone Tour” at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta due to Influenza. He promptly rescheduled and performed the show for April 14, even though he still was still under the weather.
On April 15, 2016, after returning home from the performance in Atlanta, Prince became unresponsive and his private plane made an emergency landing in Illinois, where he was admitted to the hospital. Prince had been struggling with flu-like symptoms for several weeks.
Prince Rogers Nelson was a prolific, authentic and innovative musician who was widely known for his diverse work, gaudy stage presence and high vocal range. Prince serves as the pioneer of the Minneapolis sound, infusing music from the genres of funk, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, psychedelia and pop. Prince had no trouble dibbling and dabbling in different genres while creating wholesome, cohesive art. Prince’s musical influence can be described as a mix of musicians such as James Brown, George Clinton, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Duke Ellington, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Earth Wind and Fire, Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder and many more.
Prince was born June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis to jazz singer Mattie Shaw and singer and lyricist John L. Nelson. Prince had eight brothers and sisters. He and his sister Tyka carried the musician genes from a young age. Prince displayed an early love for music and taught himself how to play the piano, guitar and drums. He even had the opportunity at the age of 10 to dance onstage with the “Godfather of Soul,” James Brown. His biological parents split when he was young, causing him to relocate his home back and forth between parents. During this period, he and his stepfather had a troubled relationship, which led to him running away and his adoption. After being quickly adopted by the Anderson family, Prince and the Andersons’ son formed a short-lived band, Grand Central, later called Champagne.
At the age of 18, Prince recorded high quality tracks which led to him becoming one of the youngest producers of Warner Brothers Records. His 1978 debut album, “For You,” ranked 163 on the U.S. Pop Charts. In 1979, Prince went platinum with his singles “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” Following his premiere album, Prince didn’t hesitate to keep the records coming with “Dirty Mind” (1980), “Controversy” (1981) and “1999” (1982). Prince continued to break barriers by showcasing his flagrant, provocative lyrics while instituting the elements of funk, dance and rock music.
Prince didn’t break into mainstream until he dropped his single “1999,” when MTV noticed Prince and his authentic style. Prince released two more singles called “Little Red Corvette” and “Delirious” on an album where he featured his band, The Revolution. In 1984 Prince sought out to release an intense new single for his film that was a masterpiece, “Purple Rain.”
Prince became a sex symbol for his androgynous persona, transcendence of gender and defiance of racial stereotypes. Prince is also respected for the bold female presence in his bands and his support for women in the music industry throughout his entire career.
Several later albums were successful due to Prince’s devout fans and the high demand for the musical genius’ work. Prince’s last album “HITnRUN Phase Two” was first released on Tidal streaming in December 2015. Prince has sold over 100 million records, making him one of the greatest artist of all time. He has also won seven Grammy awards, a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. Today, the Rolling Stone ranks Prince to be number 27 of the greatest artists of all time.
Numerous musicians, celebrities and other prominent figures have reacted and made several tributes to Prince’s passing. Cities, schools and households in the United States held accolades and vigils; they lit buildings and bridges purple and used graffiti art in honor of the great musician. He is another legend lost — yet another who will continue to live and thrive through their art.