Prince Rogers Nelson, the eclectic virtuoso who penned such gems as “Kiss,” and “Let’s Go Crazy” and who took on the music industry in his fight for creative freedom, died Thursday at age 57.
“It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning,” publicist Yvette Noel-Schure said.
Earlier Thursday, police said they were investigating a death at the Paisley Park studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota. They responded to a medical call and found the singer unresponsive in an elevator, Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said.
A massive outpouring of grief followed on social media. Some are saying the icon’s death “is what it sounds like when doves cry,” a reference to his monster hit from 1984. Fans rushed to record stores to pick up vinyl and other Prince memorabilia.
Kaleena Zanders went to Amoeba Music in Los Angeles to buy a vinyl edition of Prince’s iconic album “Purple Rain” on Thursday. She cried in the car as she drove there.
“Prince means the future, because he’s changed music, everyone in music, he’s influenced every person, and I believe that he represents our future, and it kind of died with him in a way.”
Just this month, Prince made news, but it wasn’t for his music. He said he wasn’t feeling well, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and canceled a concert at the Fox Theater in the Georgia city.
Some days later, he took the stage in Atlanta to perform an 80-minute set, unusually short for him. The stage was engulfed in lavender smoke. It was just Prince at his piano. He played his classic songs but kept the mood light and fun — at one point showing off his skills with a version of the Peanuts theme song.
After the performance, the singer’s plane made an emergency landing, Noel-Schure told CNN. Prince reportedly was rushed to a hospital in Moline, Illinois. At the time, the publicist said, “He is fine and at home.”
The singer’s fame never waned through the decades, but he was considered synonymous with the 1980s. His fame reached a fever pitch with the 1984 film “Purple Rain,” about an aspiring musician, his troubled home life and a budding romance.
He was a prolific musician. Between 1985 and 1992 he released eight albums, one per year, including the soundtrack for Tim Burton’s “Batman.” He starred in two more movies during that era: “Under the Cherry Moon” and “Graffiti Bridge.” He also put out a concert film. “Sign ‘o’ the Times” hit theaters in 1987.
He infamously changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in the 1990s during a dispute with his record label, Warner Bros. He started to become known then as the “Artist Formerly Known as Prince.”
In 2000 when the singer’s publishing contract with the company expired, he reclaimed the name Prince.
Prince won seven Grammy Awards and earned 30 nominations. Five of his singles topped the charts and 14 other songs hit the Top 10. He won an Oscar for best original song score for “Purple Rain.”