Prince, the legendary musician and actor, has died at his studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He was 57. Reports said that the local authorities had received a call and had found him unresponsive in the studio.
Just a week ago, Prince (real name, Prince Rogers Nelson) was hospitalized after a show in Illinois. He was supposed to have suffered from dehydration and the flu. The entertainment site TMZ had reported that he had cancelled some dates of his “Piano and a Microphone” tour in early April because of the flu.
Called variously his “His Purpleness” and “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince,” the diminutive musician was a hugely talented and innovative artist who wrote some breakthrough songs that made him a star in the late 1970s and 1980s. He won no less than seven Grammy awards for his music.
In 1993, he gave up his name and replaced it with a mark called the “Love Symbol;” this was in the aftermath of his copyright battle with Warner Brothers which claimed to own his work. Prince remained protective of his copyright, taking on Youtube and others for what he said was unauthorised used of his music. Most of his song videos are no longer available on the video channel.
His songs had overt sexuality and the music was a mixture of funk and rock, but mostly with a danceable beat that turned him into an icon in the disco era. Purple Rain, the song and the film, were a big hit and the album is considered one of the best of all time. Two of the songs, When Doves Cry and Let’s Go Crazy were hits all over the world.
At a time when other musicians were churning out easy listening and pop, Prince was experimenting and using his enormous vocal range and talent for different instruments (he claimed he could play 27 of them) to create innovative music. Much of his work used a good mix of synthesizer, guitar, keyboard and drums. He wrote songs for himself and for many others, including Sinead O’Connor’s famous song, “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
But it was his flamboyant personality and energetic stage presence that made him stand out. Rolling Stone, in a report on his death, said, “He embraced controversy, presenting himself as an androgynous sex fiend in his album art and lyrics, and challenged conservative music ideals in his first decade on albums like 1999, Purple Rain and Sign ‘O’ the Times.”