Prince found dead at his Pais­ley Park record­ing stu­dio aged 57

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL - By Heather Saul, Tim Walker

The en­dur­ing in­flu­ence of Prince, the trail­blaz­ing singer and song­writer who died on Thurs­day aged 57, is per­haps best mea­sured in the praise of his mu­si­cal peers. Re­spond­ing to the news of his pass­ing, Beach Boys mas­ter­mind Brian Wil­son wrote that Prince “could do it all: sing, play, ar­range and pro­duce.” The vet­eran song­writer Diane War­ren tweeted: “U wanna learn what a great song is? Go lis­ten to ev­ery f***ing song on Pur­ple Rain,” re­fer­ring to Prince’s clas­sic 1984 al­bum.

The body of the cel­e­brated mu­si­cian – full name Prince Rogers Nel­son – was found in a lift at his Pais­ley Park record­ing stu­dio in Chan­has­sen, Min­nesota on Thurs­day morn­ing. En­ter­tain­ment web­site TMZ was the first to re­port his death, which was con­firmed to The In­de­pen­dent by a spokesman. “The news is dev­as­tat­ingly true,” they said.

The Carver County Sher­iff’s Of­fice said in a state­ment that it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cir­cum­stances of the singer’s death. Con­cerns about Prince’s health had been raised at least a week pre­vi­ously, when his jet made an emer­gency land­ing in Illi­nois early last Fri­day morn­ing, on the way back to Min­nesota from a con­cert in At­lanta.

Prince had re­port­edly com­plained that he was feel­ing “con­sid­er­ably worse” af­ter be­ing laid low for sev­eral weeks with a “bad bout of flu”. He was treated at a lo­cal hospi­tal but re­leased three hours later. The fol­low­ing night he ap­peared at a dance party close to his home, where he did not per­form, but told the au­di­ence: “Wait a few days be­fore you waste any prayers.”

Born in Min­neapo­lis in June 1958, Prince grew up in a mu­si­cal fam­ily: his mother sang in a lo­cal jazz band, which was led by his fa­ther. He was play­ing the pi­ano by age seven, guitar and drums at 14, all with­out ever re­ceiv­ing lessons.

His de­but stu­dio LP, 1978’s For You, was not a huge com­mer­cial suc­cess, but he fol­lowed it up with his first hit sin­gle, “I Wanna Be Your Lover”.

The sub­se­quent, epony­mous 1979 al­bum Prince went to num­ber four in the Bill­board Soul LP charts.

Draw­ing on a spec­trum of mu­si­cal in­flu­ences, from funk to rock and from disco to jazz, Prince’s in­stru­men­tal ta­lent, flam­boy­ant stage pres­ence and un­abashed orig­i­nal­ity made him one of the most dis­tinc­tive mu­si­cians of the past four decades.

A pro­lific song­writer, he com­posed a string of hits for other singers, among them the sear­ing Sinead O’Con­nor bal­lad “Noth­ing Com­pares 2 U”. But it was Pur­ple Rain that se­cured his place in mu­sic his­tory. The LP, which fea­tured mul­ti­ple hits in­clud­ing “When Doves Cry”, is a stal­wart of great­est-ever al­bum rank­ings and earned the singer his first brace of Grammy awards.

As a cul­tural fig­ure, Prince blurred the lines of gen­der, race and sex­u­al­ity, both de­light­ing and con­found­ing fans with his sex­u­ally ex­pres­sive lyrics and an­drog­y­nous per­sona. Much of his third al­bum, 1980’s Dirty Mind, was deemed too ob­scene to re­ceive ra­dio air­play. But, rather than tone down his lyrics, Prince lasted long enough to see ra­dio stan­dards bend in his di­rec­tion.

That re­fusal to con­form be­came a defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic: at one point, Prince changed his name to a sym­bol no-one could pro­nounce. He rarely gave in­ter­views, and was known to refuse to al­low jour­nal­ists to record his voice. Given his pri­vate na­ture, it came as a pleas­ant sur­prise to fans when it was an­nounced last month that he had signed a pub­lish­ing deal for his mem­oirs. He had re­port­edly writ­ten around 50 pages prior to his death.

Though his pub­lic pro­file was lower than in pre­vi­ous decades, Prince re­mained pro­lific in the last few years of his life. His most re­cent al­bum, 2015’s HITnRUN, was re­leased in two parts. He was also be­lieved to have a “vault” of un­re­leased record­ings suf­fi­cient to fill an al­bum per year for decades to come.

Even Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was moved to pay trib­ute to the late singer, say­ing in a state­ment: “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. ‘A strong spirit tran­scends rules,’ Prince once said – and no­body’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more cre­ative.”

Singer, song­writer, pro­ducer, mu­si­cian, phi­lan­thropist and pop mu­sic icon, Prince.

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