Music superstar Prince was found dead at his Minneapolis home Thursday morning, his publicist has confirmed.
Yvette Noel-Schure, released a statement saying: “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 at the age of 57.” Further details about a cause of death were not immediately available.
The icon was found at his home in Chanhassen in suburban Minneapolis. He had recently been taken back to his large complex, last week after a plane carrying him had an emergency landing while en route to a show in Atlanta. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that a source told the paper that had suffered with “bad dehydration.”
Prince himself said publicly: “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers,” according to the Star-Tribune.
A representative for Prince had told TMZ.com that he had been fighting the flu for several weeks and had cancelled two shows set for April 7 in Atlanta. He had been in the midst of his “Piano & A Microphone” tour in which he played unaccompanied by a band in in cities stretching from Minneapolis to Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand.
Prince’s unique sound was considered timeless, and he remains among the most successful musicians of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide over the course of a nearly 40-year career in entertainment. In addition he has won seven Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for his score of his movie “Purple Rain.”
His label Warner Brothers released a statement Thursday expressing condolences and calling Prince “one of the most revolutionary talents of our time.”
Prince was the epitome of cool and mystery — an inspirational soul who created his own universe by bringing together different genres, races and cultures, with a purity of sound and sprit unlike any other,” said Cameron Strang, CEO of Warner Bros. Records. “His visionary gifts as a songwriter, vocalist, musician, performer and producer placed him in a league all its, own.”
Standing only 5’2″ but with a powerful persona, he was born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958, named for his father’s jazz band, the Prince Rogers Trio. He was a musical prodigy, learning piano at age seven, guitar at 13 and drums at 14, each self-taught, according to Rolling Stone. By his mid-teens he had formed a band called Grand Central (later renamed Champagne) with high school friends Morris Day, Andre Cymone and others. But by 1978, he was signed to Warner Brothers as a solo artist, where he released his first album “For You,” which unveiled the erotic, sexy sound that he came to be known for in the years after.
In 1979, he released his self-titled follow up, Prince, which increased his musical profile and created significant popularity among R&B fans who were transitioning between Motown-flavored soul sounds and Disco toward New Wave and funk. Hits like “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” “Why You Want to Treat Me So Bad,” and “Sexy Dancer” were tunes that came to define him, and set his music apart from other singers like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Rick James, who he competed fiercely with.
With Dirty Mind in 1980, Prince ramped up the sexuality in his music, releasing songs like the titular track, “Head,” a song about oral sex, and even “Sister” about an incestuous tryst,” which radio stations considered too obscene to play. However, “Uptown,” about the early 80s Minneapolis party life charted at no. 5 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles, creating a path for Prince in the dance music scene.
However, his next three albums, Controversy”(1981) 1999 (1982) and Purple Rain (1984) were the ones that catapulted him to superstardom, giving him a place on the R&B and pop charts that lasted decades.
Songs on the albums including the titular “Controversy,” “Let’s Work,” “1999,” “Little Red Corvette,” “International Lover,” “When Doves Cry,” and the anthemic “Purple Rain” dominated not only dance floors but disc jockey rotation lists.
His popularity was further solidified with the July 1984 release of his first film Purple Rain, a musical odyssey featuring music from the album of the same title and starring Prince, Day (with new band The Time), love interest Appollonia Kotero and his then-backup band, The Revolution. To date, the film has grossed $68.4 million at the box office. He followed it up with the more psychedelic sounding Around the World in a Day (1985), which drew comparisons between him and Jimi Hendrix.
But in a 1985 interview — one of the rare ones he has ever given — he downplayed the comparison.
“I think the smartest thing I did was record Around the World in a Day right after I finished Purple Rain. I didn’t wait to see what would happen with Purple Rain. That’s why the two albums sound completely different,” he said to Rolling Stone. Regarding the Hendrix comparison: “It’s only because he’s black. That’s really the only thing we have in common. He plays different guitar than I do. If they really listened to my stuff, they’d hear more of a Santana influence than Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix played more blues; Santana played prettier. You can’t compare people, you really can’t, unless someone is blatantly trying to rip somebody off. And you can’t really tell that unless you play the songs.”
Because of the astronomical sales of the albums, the high chart placement of his songs — which competed constantly with other 80s pop icons like Michael Jackson and Madonna — and the global tours that went along with each album, when he released Batman in 1989, Prince was one of the most successful artists of all time.
In the 1990s, Prince’s sound matured and he found himself dealing more with the business side of the industry in a way that led to him fighting for the creative rights of all artistst. In 1993, he changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol and most media referred to him as “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince,” or in short, “The Artist.” For part of that time, he had the word “slave” written onto his cheek, indicating his contract dispute with Warner Brothers. He eventually left the label in 1996, over disputes about control of his music, but eventually signed with them again in 2014.
Within that time, Prince released several albums on his New Power Generation label, distributed through Capitol/EMI records. From that deal came albums including Emancipation (1996), The Crystal Ball (1998) and Rave UN2 the Joy Fantastic (released in 1999 through a licensing deal with Arista Records). He also married Mayte Garcia, one of the backup dancers with his band. The two had a son who later died of a rare disease. Their marriage lasted four years. He was also married to Manuela Testolini from 2001 until their 2006 divorce.
In 2004, Prince re-emerged in fantastic fashion, at first at the Grammy Awards with Beyonce,’ which bolstered his album Musicology and subsequent tour. At Super Bowl XLI in 2007, he gave what is considered one of the best halftime performances ever seen.
In recent years, he took to the touring circuit again, with a new band 3rd Eye Girl, and more recently with his “Hit n’ Run” tour in which he annouced concerts just days before they were to take place, sending fans scrambling to get tickets. The “Piano & A Microphone” tour, his final perfomances, took him to several cities, domestic and international.
He had announced in March that he was working on a memoir entitled “The Beautiful Ones.”
Check back here for more updates.