Just days ago, Prince—reportedly suffering from “the flu” for weeks—was cared for after his plane made an emergency landing. He had been resting at home ever since, until his body was apparently discovered early today.
Rumors are rampant across the Internet regarding the notoriously secretive icon's health status leading up to his shocking death, with some claiming it was an open secretly he was battling full-blown AIDS via the power of prayer, having gone off his medications. One thing that is for certain, Prince had become an avid Jehovah's Witness in recent years.
Prince's first five albums (Images via fair use)
One of the premier pop, rock and R&B artists of the '80s, Prince released two albums in the late '70s before exploding onto the scene with his album Dirty Mind (1980), now considered a classic. His work quickly became characterized by his virtuoso guitar skills (Jimi Hendrix was an obvious inspiration), his funky delivery and his frankly sexual lyrics, the latter of which became a problem for him with censors early on, and with Prince himself later, when he became sternly religious.
Purple Rain has sold more than 20 million albums (Image via fair use)
Over the years, he released some of the most successful and best-remembered albums in pop, including his masterpiece Purple Rain (1984), the soundtrack to his highly successful film of the same title. He won the Oscar for Best Original Song Score for the piece, beating out the Muppets and Christopher Cross. It was the '80s.
His other smash-hit albums included Controversy (1981), 1999 (1982), Around the World in a Day (1985), Parade (1986), Sign o' the Times (1987), Lovesexy (1988) and Graffiti Bridge (1990). An unreleased version of his The Black Album, meant as a follow-up to Sign o' the Times, was a collector's Holy Grail until it was commercially released in 1994.
A photo posted by PRINCE LIVE THE BEST (@princelivethebest) on
Prince was famously at odds with his record label, Warner Bros., for years, fighting for his right to control his own catalogue. To combat what he viewed as artistic slavery, he released albums very quickly in the '90s, changed his name from Prince to , controversially sued his own fans for illegally downloading his work, signed with Arista and would eventually release his own work on his own terms, though never with as much success or fanfare as he'd experienced in the '80s and early '90s.
The stage from his Atlanta show, just a week ago (Image by CeeLoGreen courtesy of mega-fan Michelle Havlichek Gerry—so glad she got to see his last show)
Like many other '80s acts, Prince's chart supremacy stalled prematurely, with the last Top 40 hit in his lifetime being a re-release of “1999” in 1998, and his last original release to go Top 40 being “The Holy River” in 1997. He was, however, able to make a dent with studio albums, releasing two in 2014 (both of which went Top 10) and another two in 2015.
Over the years, Prince has played the Super Bowl, won seven Grammys (and had two albums awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award), received many lifetime achievement acknowledgments and continued to play live shows until just before he died. Late last year, he gave a performance so intimate and so late hardly anyone was there to see it—though old flame Madonna, who was unabashedly influenced by and in awe of his talent, made the cut.
In February, Prince's protégée Vanity, aka Denise Matthews, also died at 57.
Prince's death, coming just three months after the sudden death of David Bowie—one of the other very few musicians often credibly referred to as being a genius—will hit music fans hard. It's also worth noting that while many huge stars of the '60s (Diana Ross, Paul McCartney) are still with us, how curious and unfortunate it is that most of the biggest music stars of the '80s have passed away (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince); I would venture to say that the only other pop stars (and Prince was of course categorizable in many other ways) of the '80s left standing are Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Collins and perhaps George Michael. Note: I'm not trying to start a hierarchy war. I know Janet Jackson, Hall & Oates, Bon Jovi and Lionel Richie were indelible parts of the '80s.
i'm absolutely heartbroken that Prince is gone. COMPLETELY devastated...i can't process this....
Madonna, bowing to online petitions, made “Crazy for You” her bonus oldie at her Rebel Heart Tour show in Manila. She mistakenly said she hadn't performed the song in 30 years, but hey, who's counting? Sounds great!