News has just broken over the internet that Prince Rogers Nelson – better known by his sole artistic name of Prince – has died in his Minnesota mansion at the age of 57. Although it was originally sourced from TMZ – and therefore was suspect – Prince’s publicist has confirmed it just now via Twitter.
Prince was, to put it simply, a pop music legend. Hailing from the rather unlikely beginnings of Minneapolis, Prince came to define both the sound of a city and the sound of an era. Marrying disco, R&B, soul, funk, and rock ‘n’ roll into a signature brew all his own, Prince scored a series of best-selling albums throughout the 1980s: Prince, Dirty Mind, Controversy, and 1999 were classics with his backing band The Revolution, and 1987’s Sign O’ The Times was a massive solo hit, both commercially and critically. Besides his music, he is also well-known for being a controversial figure in the music industry. In 1993, sick of the machinations of his record label, Warner Bros., he changed his name into an unpronounceable symbol and wrote the word “SLAVE” on his forehead before a prominent performance at the Brit Awards in 1995. He also banged out a large amount of material in a very short time in order to break himself out of his record contract, a tactic made possible by the fact that he was more prolific than the next fifteen musicians combined (excluding perhaps only Robert Pollard).
Now that he has passed on, that prolific nature will keep his name alive into the time of my grandchildren. Rumours of the insanely large size of his unreleased vault have abounded for years, and now that he’s died that vault will inevitably be opened and plundered for the wealth contained therein. Regardless of what comes out of there, however, he will always be best known for his creation of the post-disco sound of the early 1980s, which gave birth to the pop sound of the rest of the decade. It’s rare that one actually gets to use this line legitimately, but: Goodnight, sweet prince.