Prince Rogers Nelson exits the stage
The world music industry was Thursday, thrown into a mourning mood as American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actor, Prince Rogers Nelson well known as Prince, was found dead at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, United States of America.
Born on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and named after the Prince Roger Trio, a jazz band his father performed with as a pianist, Prince developed interest in music at an early age, writing his first song at seven. He was signed to Warner Brother Records as a teenager and achieved wide fame in the 1980s with 1999 and Purple Rain, the latter album sharing a title with a film starring the musician.
He was renowned as an innovator and widely known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, and wide vocal range; he served as a major figure in popular music like rock, R&B, soul funk, disco, hip hop pop, psychedelia, and jazz for over three decades and was widely regarded as the pioneer of Minneapolis sound.
After recording several unsuccessful demo tapes with his cousin’s band 94 East, at 19, the late music icon released his debut album, For You, in 1978, under the guidance of manager Owen Husney. His 1979 album, Prince, went platinum due to the success of the singles, Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad? and I Wanna Be Your Lover.
His three records — Prince (1979), Dirty Mind (1980), and Controversy (1981), created controversy due to their fusion of religious, sexual themes (lyrics), and incorporation of elements of funk, dance, and rock music, while 1999 (1982) and Purple Rain (1984), which was also adapted into a film cemented his superstar status.
In 1984, he began referring to his backup band as ‘The Revolution’ and released Purple Rain, which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name. After releasing the albums Around the World in a Day (1985) and Parade (1986), The Revolution disbanded and Prince released the critically acclaimed double album Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987) as a solo artist. With the release of his 11th studio album, Batman, in 1989, Prince became one of America’s most commercially successful pop artists.
He released three more solo albums before debuting ‘The New Power Generation’ band in 1991, and changed his name four times, first in 1993 to an unpronounceable symbol glyph O also known as the ‘Love Symbol’, which he used until 2000.
In a bid to free himself from contractual obligations to Warner Bros, Prince began releasing new albums at a faster pace. He released five records between 1994 and 1996 before signing with Arista Records in 1998. During that time, he was more frequently referred to as ‘the artiste formerly known as Prince,’ and most fans did not embrace his new symbol.
In 2000, he began referring to himself as ‘Prince’ again. In 2004, after several years of relative obscurity, Prince returned to the limelight to perform at the Grammy Awards with Beyonce Knowles. That year, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with his release of Musicology, which followed with a tour that became the top concert draw in the United States.
The album won two Grammy Awards. His next album, 3121, was released in 2006, that year, he wrote and performed Song of the Heart for the animated film Happy Feet, and won a Golden Globe (Best Original Song) for the composition.
In May 2015, following the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent riots, Prince released a song entitled ‘Baltimore in tribute to Gray and in support of the protesters in Baltimore. He also held a surprise tribute concert for Gray at his Paisley Park estate called Dance Rally 4 Peace in which he reportedly encouraged fans to wear the color gray in honor of Freddie Gray.
Before his death, Prince won seven Grammys, one Golden Globe and an Academy Award, while his Rolling Stone ranked him at number 27 on its list of the ‘100 Greatest Artistes of all Time’.
He released 15 albums since then, including his latest, HitnRun Phase One, which was first released exclusively on the Tidal streaming service on September 7, 2015, before being released on CD on September 15, 2015 by NPG Records, and sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artiste of all time.
As a perfectionist, he was highly protective of his music. He wrote, composed and produced the majority of his music, and played most of the instruments on his albums. Rock critics noted similarities between Prince’s later androgynous look, music and vocal style and that of Little Richard.
April 15, 2016, his plane was forced to land in Illinois, Chicago, so he could seek medical treatment for flu-like symptom and he was hospitalised. He died at the age of 57.
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