American pop music legend Prince has been found dead in his home in Minneapolis. He was 57. His death was confirmed by the Associated Press, citing his publicist. Details about the cause have not been released; the singer was reportedly hospitalized last week after a bout with the flu.
For decades, Prince has been heralded for his innovative style and infectious tunes like “Raspberry Beret” and “Little Red Corvette.”
He was a prodigy, a provocateur and a complete game-changer in popular music.
The music he produced as a singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist defied genre, blending a mastery of pop hooks and funk grooves on singles that could be as lush as Purple Rain, as muscular and rocking as Let's Go Crazy and as ferociously propulsive as When Doves Cry — and that was just on one album, 1984's commercial behemoth Purple Rain.
The Minnesota native — who kept living and working in Minneapolis, at his Paisley Park Studios —released his first album, For You, at 19. From the start, his songs were as notable for their flouting of sexual taboos as they were for their crackling musicality, as subsequent titles such as Dirty Mind and Controversy suggested. 1983's 1999 — his first album to feature The Revolution, one of several outfits he would lead — offered the sly Let's Pretend We're Married and the charging, metaphor-driven Little Red Corvette. Not long after that, the Parents Music Resource Center (co-founded by Tipper Gore) cited Darling Nikki, from Purple Rain, in objections to content that eventually led to the use of parental-advisory labels.
The film Purple Rain introduced Prince as an actor and multi-media superstar. 1986's Under the Cherry Moon was less well-received as a movie, though its soundtrack, the album Parade, produced a chart-topping smash in the oft-sampled Kiss. 1987's Sign O' The Times, released as a solo album, marked a critical high point and yielded a few popular singles, including U Got The Look, which paired him with Sheena Easton.
Prince collaborated with and championed female musicians throughout his career, among them singer/percussionist Sheila E. and the Revolution's Susanna and Wendy Melvoin (who also contributed to Times). His appreciation of women as artists and, well, women, combined with his own androgynous sex appeal, marked the most unique and striking approach to gender that pop music had seen since David Bowie.
In the '90s, Prince's struggles with his record company earned as much attention as his music; he began appearing with the word "slave" marked on his face, and briefly changed his name to a wordless symbol. But he remained prolific in the studio and as a writer and performer, delivering live shows renowned for their energy and prowess.
More recently, the social consciousness that had figured into his music became more prominent. His 2015 song Baltimore responded to the death of Freddie Gray and other racially charged events with a positive, indeed exuberant spirit.
Prince's productivity never waned; last year he released Hit N Run as two albums, as Phase One and Phase Two, and he had announced in March he was working on a memoir, due next year. Prince broke the news himself at a Manhattan club, where he also performed, naturally. A press release for the project described it as "an unconventional and poetic journey" — as Prince's life and art were, to our benefit.
Source: USA Today and agencies