UPDATED: Music icon Prince, who sold more than 100 million records during his storied career, has died. He was 57.
His publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, confirmed the news to Variety.
Prince’s body was found at his Paisley Park home recording studio in Chanhassen, Minn., on Thursday morning, TMZ was first to report.
“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,” Noel-Schure said in a statement.
The Carver County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call at Paisley Park Studios at about 9:43 a.m. Deputies and medical personnel found Prince unresponsive in the elevator when they arrived. First responders were unable to revive Prince after attempting CPR and he was pronounced deceased at 10:07 a.m.
The Carver County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death. His autopsy will be performed on Friday.
The prolific songwriter had a medical emergency on April 15 that forced his private jet to make an unscheduled landing in Moline, Ill. He was released three hours later, however, and appeared at a concert the following day. His publicist told Variety at the time that he was battling the flu.
TMZ reported later on Thursday that Prince had been treated for a drug overdose on the day his plane made the unscheduled landing last week. According to the report, doctors had advised Prince to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.
Prince recently cancelled two shows on his “Piano and a Microphone” tour due to health concerns. Prince scored more than 50 top 40 hits since 1979, including the songs “When Doves Cry,” “1999” and “Raspberry Beret.”
Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis on June 7, 1958, the music trailblazer was best known for transgressing genres, fusing rock, pop, funk, R&B, jazz and disco. Simultaneously an explosive rock guitarist, a sinewy singer, and a sensitive and prolific songwriter, the range of Prince’s eclectic musical interests was exceeded only by his influence, and the scores of rockers, R&B singers, rappers and producers who cite him as a primary inspiration are too numerous to name.
Winner of seven Grammys during his career, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. He won an Oscar for best original song score in 1985 for “Purple Rain,” whose soundtrack sold more than 10 million copies, spent 24 weeks at the top of the album chart, and introduced his most canonical compositions into heavy radio rotation, from which most — including the title track, “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” — have scarcely left in the quarter century since.
Prince was raised in Minneapolis by two musical parents — his mother was a jazz singer and his father was a pianist — and wrote his first song when he was seven years old. After his parents’ divorce, the young Prince bounced between their homes, and occasionally lived with his neighbors, whose son Andre Anderson would later play bass with Prince as Andre Cymone.
Prince played in high school bands during the 1970s, including a band with drummer Morris Day, and landed his first manager, Owen Husney, at the age of 17. Signing with Warner Bros. Records, Prince released his debut, “For You,” in 1978, with single “Soft and Wet” proving a minor hit. (He played every instrument on the album, from guitars to keyboards to percussion.) The following year saw sophomore release, “Prince,” which reached No. 22 on the album chart thanks to the single “I Wanna Be Your Lover.”
It wasn’t until 1980, however, that Prince fully arrived artistically. Featuring a striking cover photo of the artist in a bedazzled suit jacket with nothing but a bikini bottom underneath, third album “Dirty Mind” was a blast of deeply sexual synth funk that paid homage to 1970s disco and R&B while still blazing a path of its own. The album didn’t chart as high as its predecessor, but critics were smitten, with Village Voice reviewer Robert Christgau comparing him to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, before memorably wrapping up his review with: “Mick Jagger should fold up his penis and go home.”
Prince made the TV rounds — including an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” — and opened up for the Rolling Stones in 1981, releasing “Controversy” that same year. He also formed the first of many side projects, called the Time, with old classmate Day as lead singer. The year 1982 saw the release of double-album “1999,” which vaulted Prince into yet another tier of stardom: Thanks to the album-opening volley of the title track, “Little Red Corvette,” and “Delirious,” the record became Prince’s first top 10 charter, eventually selling more than three million copies. He toured for the album with backing band the Revolution, which eventually included Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin, Dez Dickerson and Brown Mark.
But that was all just prelude to 1984, when “Purple Rain” and its attendant film made Prince one of the biggest stars on earth. Credited to Prince and the Revolution, the album launched two No. 1 singles, one No. 2 single and was nominated for the album of the year Grammy. The film of the same name — featuring Prince as the thoroughly Prince-like “The Kid,” Apollonia Kotero as his love interest and Day as his comic antagonist — was a smash at the box office. (For a week, Prince could claim the No. 1 song, album and film in the country.) “Purple Rain’s” influence even reached as far as Congress, with Tipper Gore, wife of then-Congressman Al Gore, launching the Parents Music Resource Center in response to the explicit lyrics on “Darling Nikki.”
Prince wasted no time in exploiting his cultural capital, subsequently releasing the psychedelic “Around the World in a Day,” which topped the chart, followed by the even further afield “Parade,” which spawned the massive radio hit “Kiss,” as well as an indifferently received film “Under the Cherry Moon,” which Prince directed. His song “Manic Monday” provided the Bangles with a No. 2 hit.
The Revolution was disbanded in the late-1980s, and Prince released his next album, “Sign o’ the Times,” as a solo artist. Though it failed to reach the chart heights of “Purple Rain,” the album secured substantial acclaim from critics, topping the year’s Pazz & Jop poll. Culled from recordings Prince had accumulated for a variety of abandoned albums over the previous years, the double-record boasted some of the most sublime musical moments of the artist’s career, including the deep-funk “Housequake” and the tender, gender-fluid ballad “If I Was Your Girlfriend.”
After scrapping a follow-up titled “The Black Album,” Prince released the slower-selling “Lovesexy” in 1988, but followed that by returning to the top of the album chart once again, with the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s blockbuster “Batman.” The early 1990s saw Prince inaugurate another backing band, the New Power Generation, releasing “Diamonds and Pearls” to significant success in 1991, including a No. 1 spot for lubricious single “Cream.” Though the process yielded a few messy moments, Prince was always eager to contemporize his sound, dabbling with hip-hop on tracks “My Name Is Prince” and “Sexy MF” soon after.
Prince became embroiled in a now-infamous legal battle with Warner Bros. in 1993 over the artistic and financial control of his musical output. He began going by The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, changing his name to the combined sex symbols for male and female, and releasing new music faster than the label could keep up with. “Come,” “The Black Album,” “The Gold Experience,” “Chaos and Disorder” and the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s film “Girl 6” all came out in a two-year period, to varying returns, and Prince famously performed with the word “slave” written on his cheek as protest. (He would later retire the glyph and resume referring to himself as Prince.)
Free of his Warner Bros. contract, Prince bowed “Emancipation” in 1996, a three-disc set released through his own NPG label, and distributed via EMI. From that point forward, Prince essentially functioned as an independent artist, inking limited deals with majors from time to time (including, most surprisingly, a deal with Warner Bros. in 2014). As a result, a number of his albums fell under the radar, though 2004’s “Musicology” and 2007’s “Planet Earth” were both hits. He released four new full-length records since September 2014 with his latest band, 3rd Eye Girl.
Always an incendiary live performer, Prince’s concerts became recurring cultural events in the current millennium, boosted by headline-grabbing performances at Coachella in 2008, the Grammys in 2004 and an instantly iconic showing at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2007. His touring regiment was idiosyncratic, sometimes encompassing residencies in single cities, with stadium gigs often followed by small club jam sessions into the early morning.
|Prince’s Life and Career in Photos|