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Musical Icon Prince, Dead at 57


Kevin Mazur/WireImage for NPG Records 2013Prince, who left his mark in the musical worlds of pop, funk, R&B and rock, has died.  He would have turned 58 June 7.

Prince’s publicist, Yvette Noel-Shure, confirmed the musician’s death in a statement provided to ABC News.

“It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary iconic performer, Prince, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57,” the statement reads.  “There are no further details as to the cause of his death at this time.”

The Carver County, MN Sheriff’s Office also confirmed Prince’s passing, issuing a statement that reports, in part, “On April 21, 2016, at about 9:43 am, sheriff’s deputies responded to a medical call at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen. When deputies and medical personnel arrived, they found an unresponsive adult male in the elevator. First responders attempted to provide lifesaving CPR, but were unable to revive the victim. He was pronounced deceased at 10:07 am.”

The statement adds officials “are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death.”

Prince’s Paisley Park Studios and estate are located in Chanhassen, MN, outside of Minneapolis.

President Obama issued a statement on Prince’s death: “Today, the world lost a creative icon. Michelle and I join millions of fans from around the world in mourning the sudden death of Prince. Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.” 

The president’s statement concludes: “A strong spirit transcends rules,” Prince once said — and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him.‎”

The musician’s plane reportedly made an emergency landing early last Friday morning in Moline, Illinois, so that the singer could be rushed to the hospital.  He was soon released and returned home to Minnesota, reportedly suffering from the flu.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the singer, songwriter, multiple instrumentalist, producer and actor is recognized as a musical genius, a trendsetter and advocate for artists’ rights.  His indelible impact on pop music culture dates back to when he first surfaced in 1978 with his debut album For You.

Named after the Prince Roger Trio, a jazz band his father performed with, Prince was signed to Warner Brothers records as a teenager.  His early albums — 1979’s Prince, 1980’s Dirty Mind  and 1981’s Controversy — built his core fan base while also creating controversial buzz due to their fusion of religious and sexual themes. 

Combining rock, R&B, soul, funk, hip-hop, disco, psychedelia, jazz, and pop, Prince was regarded as the pioneer of Minneapolis sound.  He also gained a reputation for being a staunch perfectionist.

The 1984 semi-autobiographical rock musical drama film Purple Rain, and its best-selling soundtrack, vaulted him into the pop stratosphere.  The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Music Score, while the soundtrack album sold over 25 million copies.

During the 1980s, at the height of his popularity, Prince was most frequently compared to Michael Jackson, who was considered his fiercest music rival. 

He collaborated with a wide variety of music acts from pop, rock and R&B, including Sheena Easton, Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush and Madonna, to Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Cyndi Lauper and his former lover, Sheila E.  Through the years, and a few name changes, Prince spun his musical magic into outfits such as The Time, the all-female Vanity 6, and The New Power Generation.

In 1993, a legal battle ensued between Warner Bros. and Prince over the artistic and financial control of his musical output. During the intense lawsuit, he appeared in public with the word “slave” written on his cheek and started going by the name The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, going as far as to changing his name to a stylized symbol that was a combination of the symbols for male and female.  He resumed using his given name in 2000, when his publishing contract with Warner/Chappell music expired.

With a singing style renowned for its versatility of reaching the highest falsetto to the deepest baritone, Prince has influenced an entire generation of artists.

Notoriously reclusive, Prince made limited public appearances, though he did appeared as himself on a 2014 episode of the Fox comedy New Girl.  He continued releasing music at a prolific rate, most recently last year’s albums HITnRUN Phase One and HITnRUN Phase Two.

In addition to his Oscar, Prince won seven Grammy Awards and a Golden Globe award, and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

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