Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, actor, and a prolific figure in popular music for over three decades, Prince has earned more titles that we can count.
A renowned innovator, the Minneapolis born and bred Prince was internationally known for his eclectic sound, pioneering production skills, and eye catching sense of style. And let’s not forget about his flamboyant stage presence, and wide vocal range which could transition from high pitched falsetto one minute to low pitched baritone the next. ( Not to mention his seductive speaking voice) He was regarded as the pioneer of Minneapolis sound which effortlessly fuses R&B, soul, funk, hip hop, rock and jazz to name a few.
A natural born talent, Prince developed an interest in music at an early age, and wrote his first song at age seven. A self taught musician, Prince learned to play 20 different instruments, including the piano on which he first taught himself to play the Batman theme, by ear.
After recording songs with his cousin’s band, a then 19-year-old Prince recorded a series of unsuccessful demos before releasing his debut album For You in 1978. In 1979, Prince achieved platinum status due to the success of singles such as the dance hit “I Wanna Be Yor Lover”. His success continued with his next three records: 1980’s Dirty Mind, 1981’s Controversy and the mega popular 1999 along with its infectious title track, which became a hit all over again once the year 1999 finally arrived. All five albums cemented Prince’s trademark style of flamboyant costumes, sexually charged lyrics, and risque’ stage performances, not to mention his eclectic fusion of funk, dance, pop and rock music.
In 1984, Prince rechristened his backup band as The Revolution had many members including Dez Dickerson and Andre Cymone. Eventually Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Brownmark, Bobby Z and Matt “Dr.” Fink remained to form the group’s classic line up. Soon after, Prince and the Revolution released the groundbreaking Purple Rain. Along with its film of the same name, Purple Rain remains one of the most successful albums of Prince’s career, transforming him into an international superstar.
The 1980s were indeed an prolific decade for Prince. During this time he also wrote songs for and produced work by many other acts, including Morris Day and the Time, Sheena Easton, and Vanity 6, often under pseudonyms such as Jamie Starr and Joey CoCo.
After releasing 1985’s Around the World in a Day and 1986’s Parade, and starring in Under the Cherry Moon, The Revolution disbanded and Prince released 1987’s Sign “O” the Times and it’s accompanying concert film of the same name. Sign “O” the Times serves as Prince’s first album without the Revolution. Soon after he released three more poplur albums In 1988’s Lovesexy on which he was featured nude on the cover, 1989’s Batman soundtrack 1990’s Graffiti Bridge, and 1991’s widely successful Diamonds and Pearls. The same year, he introduced his band The New Power Generation.
In 1993, Prince shocked the world when he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, also known as the “Love Symbol”. The Love Symbol also served as the tile of an album which he released in 1992. The name change was also a move to remove himself from contractual obligations from his record company Warner Bros, accusing them of slavery.
After signing with Arista records, Prince released six albums: Both Come and The Black Album in 1994, 1995’s The Gold Experience and both Chaos and Disorder and Emancipation in 1996 and Crystal Ball in 1998. In 2000, he became “Prince” once again.
Since returning to the one that we all know and love, he has released 15 including his latest, HITnRUN Phase One, which was first released exclusively on September 7, 2015 by the Tidal streaming service. On September 15, 2015 on CD the album was released by his own imprint NPG Records.
Prince has also always been a strong voice in protecting his craft, forbidding online users and bootleggers unauthorized distribution of his music. He believed that no artist should have to unwilling give away their hard work for free.
Soon, tragedy struck. On April 15, 2016, Prince’s private plane was forced to land in Illinois so that he could seek medical treatment for flu-like symptoms, which he had been reportedly battling for several weeks. He had performed a day earlier in Atlants, Georgia. He departed this life on April 21, 2016, having been found that morning at his Paisley Park recording studio complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He was 57.
Throughout his extensive career, Prince sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists in history. He has won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, and was ranked number 27 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Rest in eternal peace and power Purple One. The world will never know another talent like yours, and You will be sincerely missed.