Pop icon Prince—whose pioneering brand of danceable funk made him one of music’s most influential figures—died today at his compound in Minnesota. He was 57. The announcement came just a week after the enigmatic Grammy and Oscar winner—acclaimed for his guitar skills and soaring falsetto—was taken to hospital with a bad bout of influenza, which he made light of after the scare.
“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,” said his spokeswoman, Yvette Noel-Schure, without elaborating. The Carver County sheriff’s office in Minnesota confirmed on Twitter that Prince had been “found dead” at the compound and said it had opened an investigation into the circumstances.
Prince became an international sensation in the 1980s, when he popularized the Minneapolis sound of danceable funk, incorporating rock elements. His 1984 album “Purple Rain” is often described as one of the greatest of all time. The artist—whose huge catalogue of hits includes “1999,” “Cream” and “Kiss”—lived on the outskirts of Minneapolis, where he was known for throwing parties and preserving his back recording in vaults at his Paisley Park studio.
He changed his name in the 1990s to an unpronounceable “love symbol” and wrote “slave” on his cheek to protest contractual conditions by his label Warner. He was recently prolific in his output, releasing albums through streaming site Tidal, and has taken to scheduling shows at the last minute to avoid scalpers. Fellow musicians and other celebrities led an immediate outpouring of tributes and expressions of shock.
“He was definitely an original and a one of a kind,” the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin told MSNBC. “Prince is gone, but the music will go on.”
“RIP our dearly beloved Prince. Tears and love on our tour bus... I’ll never forget my brother. We’ve had good times,” American musician, producer, and guitarist Nile Rodgers tweeted. “And just like that...the world lost a lot of magic,” pop diva Katy Perry said.
“Devastated to hear the news about Prince. An enormous talent that we were all big fans of,” the official account of British pop group Duran Duran posted.
“I Miss My Brother. Prince Was A Funny Cat. Great Sense Of Humor,” director Spike Lee tweeted.
Recording Academy president Neil Portnow mourned the seven-time Grammy winner, calling him “one of the most uniquely gifted artists of all time.”
“Never one to conform, he redefined and forever changed our musical landscape. Prince was an original who influenced so many, and his legacy will live on forever,” he said in a statement.
Samuel L. Jackson was among dozens of Hollywood stars who took to social media within an hour of the news breaking, describing feeling “crushed” by Prince’s death. Actress Whoopi Goldberg and TV scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson both observed that Prince’s death “is what it sounds like When Doves Cry,” referring to the lead single from Purple Rain.