This article titled “Pioneering musician Prince dies at 57 – tributes and reactions” was written by Damien Gayle in London, Lanre Bakare in New York, and Elle Hunt in Sydney, for theguardian.com on Friday 22nd April 2016 03.02 UTC
Tributes roll on as the world remembers the Purple One
Prince fans the world over are in mourning following news of the pioneering pop star’s death at the age of 57.
He died at his Paisley Park home and studio complex outside Minneapolis, where fans have gathered to remember him and lay tributes.
Street parties have been held at the legendary First Avenue music venue in Minnesota and by Spike Lee Brooklyn, while towers, civic buildings and bridges the world over have been lit up in his trademark purple.
Prince’s cause of death is not yet known, but last week he was rushed to hospital apparently recovering from a bout of flu that had forced his private jet to make an emergency landing in Illinois.
We’ll no doubt hear more on his influence and legacy in the coming days, but for now, thank you for following along with our coverage of tributes and reaction. Prince, like artists such as Michael Jackson made a massive impact in the world of music, with many of his records being reproduced through vinyl pressing from VDC Group for many to enjoy and it is a day that many people won’t be forgetting anytime soon. We have lost a musical icon. Prince was and still is a big inspiration to many people out there, especially those who are aiming to pursue a career in music. With the help of technology and sites like hifisystemcomponents.com, you may be able to create the music that you have always wanted, with the inspiration of Prince in the back of your mind. Prince probably used equipment like this in the studio, so who knows what your music could end up sounding like.
Sydney’s Newtown fire station has commemorated Prince, as it did for David Bowie’s death in January.
Ryan Felton is reporting from the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis.
More footage from the Spike Lee street party in Brooklyn.
Montreal’s City Hall lit up in purple.
Prince fans mourn on social media.
The New York Times’ Jon Parales has linked to his piece on his visit to Prince’s studio complex Paisley Park in November 1996:
He toyed with every duality he could think of: masculine and feminine, black and white, straight and gay. While he made albums virtually by himself, like an introvert, his concerts were in the grand extroverted tradition of rhythm-and-blues showmen like James Brown. His music pulled together rock and funk, gospel and jazz, pop ballads and 12-bar blues. His most distinctive rhythm – a choppy, keyboard-driven funk – has permeated pop, hip-hop and dance music, while his ballad style echoes in hits like TLC’s Waterfalls. …
“He’s one of the greatest ones,” says George Clinton, himself an architect of modern funk. “He’s a hell of a musician; he has really studied everything. And he’s working all the time. Even when he’s jamming he’s recording that. He gets to party; he listens to everything on the radio; he goes out to clubs, and then he goes to the studio and stays up the rest of the night working. He has more stuff recorded than anybody gets to hear.
“Sometimes I think he puts too much effort into trying to take what’s out now and put his own thing on it. To me, ain’t none of the pop stuff happening that’s half as good as what he can do.”
Minneapolis mourns its Prince – in pictures
From CNN’s national correspondent Kyung Lah on Twitter – purple skies tonight.
A Guardian reader remembers…
Prince fans mourn the loss of music legend outside his Paisley Park home
As hundreds of Prince fans gathered outside his Paisley Park home on Thursday to mourn the loss of the music icon, local resident Julie Reid recalled her surprise sighting of the superstar just this week.
Reid, 48, was quietly getting a haircut on Sunday when a receptionist came back and exclaimed: “Oh my gosh, Prince is outside riding his bike.”
“I loved him – oh, I loved him when I was growing up. So I ran out there – with foils in my hair.”
Outside, Prince politely waved at her, Reid said, but when she held up her camera he firmly wagged his finger back, a testament to his penchant for privacy. Still, she snapped a quick photo, which revealed a short figure appearing to be Prince, casually riding his bike along the road.
Spike Lee’s Prince dance party in Brooklyn
Spike Lee’s public celebration of Prince, publicised on Instagram, is underway in Brooklyn.
The party is at the headquarters for Lee’s film production company, 40 Acres and a Mule, in Fort Greene. CNN media reporter Frank Pallotta is there.
All-night street party at First Avenue
The Current, the public radio station in Minnesota, is remembering Prince with an all-night street party at the legendary venue First Avenue – as well as a very purple playlist.
AAP’s broken down Prince’s impact on Australian for his fans here.
The Purple One toured Down Under four times, commencing with the Diamonds and Pearls tour in 1992. A world tour followed 11 years later in 2003. Welcome 2 Australia came about in 2012 and, earlier this year, he performed intimate shows as part of A Piano and a Microphone.
Beat.com.au remembers Prince’s after-party performance at Bennett’s Lane in 2003 as “one of Melbourne’s most spectacular secret performances, where fans paid a mere $20 to witness Prince in the tiny jazz club.”
He had two number-one singles in Australia (When Doves Cry in 1984 and The Most Beautiful Girl in the World in 1994) and three number-one albums (Purple Rain in 1984, Diamonds and Pearls in 1991, Love Symbol in 1992).
1999 (1983), Let’s Go Crazy (1984), Kiss (1986), Batdance (1989), Gett Off (1991), Cream (1991), Sexy MF (1992) and My Name Is Prince (1992) all made the top 10.
My heart goes out to this teacher.
Why you can’t listen to Prince’s music online
As office workers attempting to mourn Prince discreetly with headphones on will be finding today, it’s no easy feat to listen to his music online. He has no official station on YouTube or Vevo, and his catalogue on Spotify and Apple Music is sparse.
Last summer, Prince withdrew his music from all streaming services except Jay-Z’s initiative Tidal, in what the Daily Beast describes as “his final middle finger to an exploitative record industry and last act of badassery in a career devoted to championing artists’ rights”.
He’d also expressed support for Taylor Swift’s stand against Apple Music when the service was not paying artists for streams during its three-month free trial period.
His interview with Dorian Lynskey for the Guardian in 2011 revealed the extent of his distaste for the internet (though his subsequent embrace of Twitter and Instagram suggests he might’ve come round a bit in more recent years).
“The industry changed,” he says. “We made money [online] before piracy was real crazy. Nobody’s making money now except phone companies, Apple and Google. I’m supposed to go to the White House to talk about copyright protection. It’s like the gold rush out there. Or a carjacking. There’s no boundaries. I’ve been in meetings and they’ll tell you, Prince, you don’t understand, it’s dog-eat-dog out there. So I’ll just hold off on recording.”
His management’s pre-interview list of guidelines insisted, “Please do not discuss his views on the internet,” but perhaps Prince hasn’t read them. “I personally can’t stand digital music,” he says. “You’re getting sound in bits. It affects a different place in your brain. When you play it back, you can’t feel anything. We’re analogue people, not digital.” He’s warming to his theme. “Ringtones!” he exclaims. “Have you ever been in a room where there’s 17 ringtones going off at once?”
Does he have a ringtone?
“No,” he says, looking as offended as if I’d asked him if he drove a clown car. “I don’t have a phone.”
The Current – the public radio station for Minneapolis, the city near Prince’s residence in Minnesota – is live-streaming his music here today without interruptions.
In 2011, the Heavy Table approached Prince with regards to featuring in the inaugural instalment of their What’s In Your Fridge series. They didn’t hear back for eight months.
The response, when it finally came, was not a curt “no”. It was, in typically Prince fashion: “We have some conditions.”
“OK,” we countered. “Conditions are fine. What are your conditions?”
– No descriptions of the house or its location.
We could abide by this. After all, the series is What’s in Your Fridge?, not What’s the House Like and Where Is It Located?
– Prince would not actually be present during the fridge inspection, but we could ask him some follow up questions about the contents by email afterward.
Well, not ideal, but understandable. Fine.
– No photographer.
This was a problem. It defeated the whole purpose, we argued. We’d love to do it, but without a photographer…
But then one of Prince’s representatives (Or was it the man himself? Hard to tell over email.) suggested that we bring an illustrator. That was OK. This is the sort of compromise you make.
Without further ado, then, What’s in Prince’s Fridge?
And in Boston:
The Grammys has posted a short clip in memory of Prince – he won seven of them. “like books and black lives, albums matter,” he said in presenting Album of the Year at the 57th Grammy Awards in February last year.
Google remembers Prince
Google’s remembered Prince with an animated logo on its US homepage, redirecting to the search result for “Prince Music”. It’s thought to be the first time Google has commemorated someone’s death with a Doodle.
And of course there’s the associated spike in search terms.
Twitter tributes roll on
Tweets from musicians and celebrities remembering Prince are testament to the diversity of his fanbase.
Next week’s New Yorker cover
Bob Staake’s Purple Rain: simple, and elegant.
Fans gather in Paisley Park, Minneapolis
My colleague Ryan Felton is reporting from Minneapolis, where tributes for Prince are being left in Paisley Park.
Before Prince joined Instagram (“PRINCESTAGRAM”), posting tens of photos of himself in a day, LA-based comedian Jake Fogelnest imagined what it would be like if he tweeted. His parody account @PrinceTweets2U, capturing the Purple One’s essence in instalments of 140 characters, drew more than 100,000 followers.
Fogelnest spoke to The Fader after Prince’s death.
“The idea of Prince sitting around his house bored and on Twitter made me laugh. Like, he would want to put out his Prince ideology and fantastic thoughts, but then at the same time would be upset that something wasn’t in his fridge. The idea of just Prince around the house, or Prince’s day-to-day life. You know how when people start using Twitter they don’t really know how to use it? So just like him realizing, “Yeah I’m Prince and I have a platform to disseminate missives to the masses.” And then at the same time he’d be really upset if he was out of pomegranate juice! Prince is so otherworldly that it’s really funny to me to think about him doing very pedestrian and normal things.”
Public tributes around the world
And in Brixton:
My colleague Chris Johnston has shared with me this tribute to Prince, written by Tim Teeman for the Daily Beast.
Prince was a peacock. Prince very visibly loved fashion, and he wore it with such ferocity and passion that he demanded we didn’t laugh at his outlandishness—we went along with it, and applauded each new act of sartorial maximalism he executed. He had fun with fashion. And he knew that whatever else, rock stars had to look the part. He would have blanched at jeans and a T-shirt. Where was the glitter and drama in that?
In an era of sexual declaration and easy visual messaging, Prince remained a supremely, gorgeously dressed mystery.
Late last year Prince joined Instagram with a bang, posting 88 times in just four days. True to his personal brand, most were photos of himself with captions in ALL CAPS, one revealing a penchant for Nestlé Crunch.
As of today, he’d posted 217 times to “PRINCESTAGRAM” to 282,000 followers. He followed no one.
I’m taking over our rolling coverage of tributes to Prince from my colleague Lanre Bakare in New York – let me know yours in the comments or on Twitter at @mlle_elle.
Plenty of readers have already shared their favourite memories of the Purple One in the comments.
You can share yours in more depth by contributing to our Guardian Witness assignment.
Minneapolis was a city in mourning as news of Prince’s death at his Paisley Park home spread.
Purple flowers and notes were placed along the fence outside the Paisley Park home in Chanhassen, where Prince held a dance party just last Saturday.
“If you have flowers you can bring them on up,” said a woman guarding the makeshift memorial to the growing congregation.
The road outside the house, Audubon, was blocked off as news trucks gathered and fans came to pay their respects. A sign in the middle of the memorial read: “RIP PRINCE,” with a broken heart drawn between each word. Some families stretched across three generations came wearing their favorite purple attire, other fans came walking their dogs or beat the snarl of traffic by riding in on a bike.
Vehicles parked in and around the compound, despite the local county sheriff department’s best efforts to mark the area “no parking.” A barrier was erected between the memorial and the crowd, fans said, out of respect to the family.
At First Avenue, the club where Prince filmed the live show scenes for Purple Rain, fans began leaving – mostly purple – floral tributes at the foot of a wall decorated with a star bearing his name.
The club announced it was opening for a free all night dance party in honour of the city’s musical hero.
Local radio station KMOJ was playing back to back Prince songs throughout the day and even the city’s politicians joined the grieving.
Mayor Betsy Hodges posted a blog declaring: “Prince was a child of our city and his love of his hometown permeated many of his songs. Our pride in his accomplishments permeates our love of Minneapolis.
“Prince was unapologetically different and he made it okay for his fans to be different and to celebrate their individuality.”
A little bit more on the 57 club
Michael Hann has pointed me in the direction of his piece about research – carried out by Dianna Theodora Kenny, professor of psychology and music at the University of Sydney – into the most likely age musicians die at. It’s actually 56 …
In her second piece, Kenny looked at the myth – and it is a myth – of the “27 Club”, the name given to the group of musicians who have died aged 27, including Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix, which has driven the belief that somehow the age of 27 is imbued with a mystical horror for those who make music. In fact, Kenny shows, more musicians have died aged 28 than 27 – and the commonest age for them to die is 56. It’s just there were more famous people among the 27 cohort, and their deaths were particularly notable in manner.
So there you go.
His best interviews (part two): ‘He actually gets physically ill at having his picture taken’
I forgot to mention Sasha Frere-Jones New Yorker piece from 2007, which has another brilliant intro that really sums up how much people would put up with to see Prince.
Permit me to plan your dream weekend. You’re going to see a musician, a great one, play at a small club in Las Vegas. For a hundred and seventy-five dollars, you could stand on the dance floor in front of the stage. But, if you want to sit down, house policy requires that you buy at least two tickets and pay an additional three hundred and seventy-five dollars, which entitles you to a bottle of alcohol and seats at a VIP table at the edge of the dance floor. At midnight, the performer will begin a hundred-minute set. Afterward, as you wait half an hour in a queue for a taxi to drive you to a hotel that is roughly three blocks away but inaccessible by foot, you will see adults throwing up into garbage cans and waving plastic necklaces above their heads. You will get to bed at approximately 3am.
Why would you do this? Because the musician you are seeing is Prince …
Kurt Loder’s Rolling Stone piece from 1984 is well worth revisiting, if only for this story about Prince’s approach to photo shoots:
It is decided to wheel in the purple Honda, a perfect prop. The motorcycle is a central visual ornament of Purple Rain, Prince’s custom-tailored movie debut – a picture with so much prerelease “top spin,” as they say in Hollywood, that the media, anticipating a major sleeper, have been abasing themselves for weeks in the hope of wangling interviews with the recalcitrant star. But Prince does not do interviews anymore. He is, however, full of advice about camera angles and poses, and the photographer fights back a gathering urge to whack him with a light meter. Quickly, he snaps off some preliminary test shots with a Polaroid. Prince seems to approve of the results, then slips away while the photographer makes some final lighting adjustments. An assistant appears and carefully confiscates the seven Polaroids. When Prince returns, he seems restless and even more remote. He’s decided he doesn’t like the original setup, so they do another Polaroid, a full-length shot. Prince disappears again. The photographer hears the sound of drums and cymbals being bashed in another room. Then silence. After half an hour, the assistant reappears and announces that he’s just driven his employer home. Prince, he says, is extremely sensitive: “He actually gets physically ill at having his picture taken.”
Here’s a quick selection of appreciations and tributes from the likes of Carrie Brownstein and the New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb:
Running out of living musical heroes, those we measure everything against, emulate, know we won’t surpass but inspire us to try. #prince
And there was this slightly sobering piece of data journalism on when musicians are most likely to die. The 57 club could become a thing.
Paul McCartney pays tribute
Prince: ten of the best
Andrew Harrison has picked ten of the best Prince tracks. Not enough room to mention them all here but here’s my favourite.
By the time of his third album, Prince had announced himself as something both unprecedented in pop – the sex-drenched, post-male, polymorphous Imp of the Perverse – and weirdly familiar; a new, lubricious Little Richard. Meanwhile his new wave-funk hybrid Minneapolis sound was beginning to set the agenda of black music rather than following it. The sizzling disco of this title track, with its squelching Funkadelic electronics and cheeky, childlike arpeggios, carries the first real Prince manifesto of self: “Am I black or white? Am I straight or gay?” Sex, God, the funk and the filth: it’s all here, right in time to outrage the Reagan era.
Alexis Petridis’s Prince appreciation
Alexis has written about the importance of Prince and his unknownableness. Here’s a snippet:
As it turned out, Prince knew exactly what he was doing, even when it looked like he had no idea. The way he behaved as his career began in the late 70s would set a pattern for the rest of his life.
He was, if anything, even more lavishly talented than the credit that claimed he’d played 27 different instruments on For You suggested. He went on to make umpteen albums in a myriad of music styles: he could, it appeared, do everything from rock to funk to jazz to psychedelia.
Some of the albums were better than others – his output was so torrential that not even he could completely maintain his quality control – but whatever they sounded like, they always sounded like Prince. And he was infinitely more obstinate than that first recording contract made him appear. For the best part of forty years, he conducted his career according to a whimsical internal logic that seemed to baffle even his closest collaborators.
Questlove’s Prince story
The Roots drummer shared an anecdote about Prince, a monumental ticket cock up and Fela Kuti over on Okayplayer. Here’s the video:
Aretha Franklin: ‘I’m wondering if it has anything to do with this Zika virus’
While appearing on MSNBC this afternoon, Aretha Franklin suggested Prince’s death may have been caused by the Zika virus.
Host Brian Williams didn’t elaborate on the Zika comments but did say his death was so shocking because he was known to look after his health and stay fit.
She also talked about his mystic and work ethic. She said: “Prince is gone, but the music will go on … as I said, was just one of those artists that go into the studio and stayed in the studio. And he would even slept in the studio.”
The guitar solo that everyone is talking about
A lot of Twitter chat this afternoon has focused on Prince’s guitar skills and in particular the way he showed some of rock’s royalty how to make a guitar weep at the 2004 rock’n’roll hall of fame induction ceremony.
Spotted on the Subway
Surely the MTA will allow this piece of creative vandalism to stand, at least for today:
The place to be tonight
Surely, there’s nowhere more fitting to spend tonight than the First Avenue club in Minneapolis, where the live footage for Purple Rain was recorded.
It’s billed as an “All Night Dance Party”, there’s no cover charge and DJ Mike 2600 is playing – what more could you want?
When Prince played the White House (with Stevie Wonder)
Last year under a veil of secrecy Prince played the White House for a select group of showbiz attendees … and Jon Bon Jovi. Here’s Rolling Stone’s article on the event:
The event taking place in the East Room was a performance by Prince for about 500 A-list friends, supporters, and entertainment-world pals of President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama. Pop and rock acts playing the White House isn’t news; what set the Prince event apart was its secrecy. Called a “private party for friends and family” by one White House official, the bash featured a lengthy set by Prince and a cameo by Stevie Wonder, and it was kept so under the wraps – before and after – that it quickly became one of the year’s most talked-about pop shows.
Mourners gather around the US and the Apollo pays tribute
Dam Funk: ‘Prince not only changed my life, but saved my life’
LA producer Dam Funk has released a statement on Prince:
Prince not only changed my life, but saved my life. My hero. He is the Funk.
I interviewed him last year and he spoke about how Prince’s brand of funk was overlooked as being too black:
“Stuff like Zapp, P-Funk All-Stars and Prince …” he says; “Independent labels were into this other type of funk because ours was too black for them, so they were starting to big up a certain Get On The Good Foot type of vibe. It felt like those people were turning funk into something else.”
From the comments …
Amid a lot of people expressing their shock and sadness at the death of Prince there have been some nice anecdotes and musings about the purple one:
Keep them coming, please.
A couple of tweets have highlighted the continued interest Prince took on civil rights issues.
There was also his Grammy appearance when he said this:
As well as his 38 UK top 40 hits and five no.1 albums, Prince set another record: playing 21 nights at the O2 arena in London in 2007. Reviewing the first night in August that year, Guardian pop critic Alexis Petridis gave the show four stars.
The cliche about him being a consummate live performer is a cliche only because it’s true. Quite aside from his remarkable abilities as a dancer – no mean feat given the vertiginous heels on his white boots – he milks the audience in a manner that stops just the right side of shameless.
It is a wildly impressive show, but you still leave it uncertain about Prince’s future. It works not merely because of his stage presence, or his fantastically tight band, but because he plays to the strengths of his back catalogue.”
Lest we forget he also decided to distribute his Planet Earth album through the slightly unconventional means of a giveaway with the Mail on Sunday newspaper in the UK. The boss of music chain HMV described the decision as “absolutely nuts”.
Obama releases statement and Mick Jagger praises ‘a revolutionary artist’
Mick Jagger’s statement read:
“I am so saddened to hear the news. Prince was a revolutionary artist wonderful musician, and composer an original lyricist and a startling guitar player. His talent was limitless. He was one of the most unique and exciting artists of the last 30 years.”
NASA pays tribute
‘It’s bigger than death’ Frank Ocean blogs about Prince
The R&B star took to his tumblr to share his thoughts on the death of Prince (apologies if you hate caps):
I’M NOT EVEN GONNA SAY REST IN PEACE BECAUSE IT’S BIGGER THAN DEATH. I NEVER MET THE MAN (I WAS TOO NERVOUS THE ONE TIME I SAW HIM) AND I NEVER SAW HIM PLAY LIVE, REGRETTABLY. I ONLY KNOW THE LEGENDS I’VE HEARD FROM FOLKS AND WHAT I’VE HEARD AND SEEN FROM HIS DEEP CATALOG OF PROPELLANT, FEARLESS, VIRTUOSIC WORK. MY ASSESSMENT IS THAT HE LEARNED EARLY ON HOW LITTLE VALUE TO ASSIGN TO SOMEONE ELSE’S OPINION OF YOU.. AN INFECTIOUS SENTIMENT THAT SEEMED SOAKED INTO HIS CLOTHES, HIS HAIR, HIS WALK, HIS GUITAR AND HIS PRIMAL SCREAM. HE WROTE MY FAVORITE SONG OF ALL TIME, ‘WHEN YOU WERE MINE’. IT’S A SIMPLE SONG WITH A SIMPLE MELODY THAT MAKES YOU WISH YOU THOUGHT OF IT FIRST, EVEN THOUGH YOU NEVER WOULD HAVE – A FLIRTATIOUS BRAND OF GENIUS THAT FEELS APPROACHABLE. HE WAS A STRAIGHT BLACK MAN WHO PLAYED HIS FIRST TELEVISED SET IN BIKINI BOTTOMS AND KNEE HIGH HEELED BOOTS, EPIC. HE MADE ME FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE WITH HOW I IDENTIFY SEXUALLY SIMPLY BY HIS DISPLAY OF FREEDOM FROM AND IRREVERENCE FOR OBVIOUSLY ARCHAIC IDEAS LIKE GENDER CONFORMITY ETC. HE MOVED ME TO BE MORE DARING AND INTUITIVE WITH MY OWN WORK BY HIS DEMONSTRATION – HIS DENIAL OF THE PREVAILING MODEL…HIS FIGHT FOR HIS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY – ‘SLAVE’ WRITTEN ACROSS THE FOREHEAD, NAME CHANGED TO A SYMBOL… AN ALL OUT REBELLION AGAINST EXPLOITATION. A VANGUARD AND GENIUS BY EVERY METRIC I KNOW OF WHO AFFECTED MANY IN A WAY THAT WILL OUTRUN OBLIVION FOR A LONG WHILE. I’M PROUD TO BE A PRINCE FAN(STAN) FOR LIFE.
Prince’s Hit N Run tour
Harriet Gibsone has written about Prince’s 2015/15 tour which was a meandering, sprawling jaunt that not many any people saw coming.
For a musician so shrouded in secrecy and mystery, Prince’s final series of live dates established the funk icon as a familiar and frequent face in venues across the world. As familiar as a 5 foot 2 world-class guitar virtuoso and showman ever can be. His series of Hit N Run tour dates wrecked havoc across 15 cities for 39 gigs in a little over a year, from February 2014 to June 2015. Flanked by his inimitable band 3rdeyegirl, the Purple One’s guerrilla gigs would be confirmed sometimes no sooner than a few hours before the gig via Twitter. Stopping in at locations from London to Louisville, Paris to Montreal, his epic sets would take place in a litany of shapes and sizes, stopping in at jazz clubs and arenas – and even a set at King Place, a venue set beneath London’s Guardian offices.
Those who witnessed his most intimate performances would have been rewarded, after hours stood in snaking queues, with a greatest hits funk extravaganza, the likes of Let’s Go Crazy, 1999, Little Red Corvette performed so close you could stare into the whites of his eyes. As a result, thousands of fans were given the opportunity to watch the great musician perform a career spanning set for one last time.
One of the biggest regrets of my life is not going back to work at Kings Place when he played his surprise gig there. Instead I chose to stay in on Valentine’s Day and order a pizza which took three hours to turn up.
Prince in his own words: ‘You have to live a life to understand it’
Following on from his best interviews, here’s a roundup of some of his best quotes.
My personal favourite is this one:
“I’m no different to anyone. Yes, I have fame and wealth and talent, but I certainly don’t consider myself any better than anyone who has no fame, wealth or talent. People fascinate me. They’re amazing! Life fascinates me! And I’m no more fascinated by my own life than by anyone else’s.” To Sylvia Patterson, NME, 1996
Here’s a statement from the Carver County Sheriff’s department about the death of Prince.
Tributes continue to pour in from celebrities
And here’s a link to his legendary Superbowl performance:
‘It is impossible to imagine him not being here’: Sheena Easton comments
Prince’s long-time collaborator Sheena Easton has commented on his death. She released this statement:
“It is impossible to imagine him not being here. The world of music was forever changed the day he picked up his guitar. His talent was breathtaking, his heart was kind, and all of us have been blessed to have had a glimpse into this sweet and magical soul. Sheena”
His protege Sheila E also tweeted:
Readers share their memories
Caroline Bannock has compiled some stories from readers around the world who have been sharing their photos and memories of Prince with the Guardian.
Prince at Glasgow SSE Hydro in 2014
liemanielaw saw Prince play live at Paisley Park at a secret gig with about 100 other people in the 90’s: “He was immense, played all night 10ft in front of us till he ran out of songs. Rockers loved Prince. Pop kids loved Prince. Hip-Hop heads loved Prince. Soul boys loved Prince. DJ’s loved Prince. Mums loved Prince. Gays loved Prince. Straights loved Prince. Everyone loved Prince. He wrote big songs that could win you the X-Factor and delicate songs that felt like they belonged to only you …
John Brindle saw him at Wembley Arena in London in 1995, when Prince was in dispute with his record company and he was only performing new songs. Brindle says “Even the encores featured none of the previous hits. Wembley danced for over two hours and the highlight Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ had a capacity crowd totally captured by the man. He stayed true to himself throughout”
Charles Irving from Manchester was visiting Las Vegas and encountered Prince at McCarren airport; “We’d been at a pretty draining conference and had waited for about 2 hours in Las Vegas’s McCarran airport. Round and around the vast building and for what seemed like miles we queued to get through security … after a few minutes of more waiting, there was a mild kerfuffle and a security guard came through from the back of the queue, with someone behind them, that they were escorting. The security guard brushed past me, followed immediately by Prince. He was beautifully dressed and immaculately made up just like he was about to go onstage. He brushed past me too, and was about 2 metres further on before I recovered enough from my shock to shout after him, “I love your stuff man!!”. He stopped and turned, looked me in the eye and gave me one of those famous coy smiles that he does. “Thank you”, he mouthed at me. Then he was gone.”
Prince at Manchester Academy in 2014
You can share your memories and tributes by clicking on the blue contribute button on this article.
If you want to share stories in the comments I’ll pull some of those out too.
Where to go if you want to hear Prince tonight
In the UK BBC 1Xtra are playing non-stop Prince curated by Mistajam; in Minnesota public radio is doing the same; and if you’re in New York Questlove’s weekly party is going to be very purple tonight.
His best interviews
Many outlets are rolling out their Prince interviews. We’ve already mentioned Alexis Petridis’s very recent visit to Paisley Park, but it’d be a shame not to revisit Dorian Lynskey’s interview with Prince in 2011 where he produced such lines as:
“It’s fun being in Islamic countries, to know there’s only one religion. There’s order. You wear a burqa. There’s no choice. People are happy with that.” But what about women who are unhappy about having to wearing burqas? “There are people who are unhappy with everything,” he says shruggingly. “There’s a dark side to everything.”
The whole thing is definitely worth a read.
The New York Times reminded everyone of Jon Pareles’s 1996 profile of the purple one, which begins with this scene-setting intro:
Paisley Park, the studio complex Prince built in this Minneapolis suburb, is abuzz. On a 10,000-square-foot sound stage, workmen are rolling white paint onto a huge runway of a set, preparing it for a video shoot later in the day. In a mirrored studio down the hall, two dozen dancers are rehearsing. Upstairs, an Olympic gymnast, Dominique Dawes, is trying on a wispy lavender costume. A sound engineer is editing a promotional CD; a graphics artist is putting the final touches on a logo. Through it all strolls the man in charge, attentive to every detail. A hole in the gymnast’s leotard? A bit of choreography that needs broadening? As songwriter, video director and record-company head, he takes responsibility for everything, makes all the final decisions and couldn’t be happier about it.
That’s got everything you want from an intro about Prince: 10,000-square-foot sound stage (check); Olympic gymnast, Dominique Dawes (check); Prince operating as omnipresent overlord (check).
The New York Times also went back to its 1981 profile by Robert Palmer which had this prescient section:
Prince, the 21-year-old singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who is performing tonight at the Palladium, is the most controversial contemporary rock star precisely because he challenges sexual and racial stereotypes. The songs on his four Warner Bros. albums explore adolescent sexuality in language explicit enough to require warning stickers (‘’contains language which may be unsuitable for some listeners’’), but the stickers haven’t kept his records off the best-seller charts. And his music confounds racial categories by combining elements of white pop and rock with black dance rhythms.
Many people pointed to Hilton Als’s essay on the power of Prince in Harper’s, which includes this incredible section where Jamie Foxx tries to explain his universal sex appeal:
He looked like a deer or something, or a fawn . . . I shouldn’t even be telling you this shit.” More laughter from the audience, more abashment from Foxx. Being enthralled – or, more accurately, frightened and turned on by Prince and what his various looks said about an aspect of black male sexuality – was that something only comedians could talk about? And when they did, did Prince’s weirdness have to be the butt of the joke, so to speak, along with colored queerness? For the most part, I wasn’t interested in the Prince who produced 1999 and Purple Rain and Around the World in a Day and at least half of Sign “O” the Times (all released between 1982 and 1987). Those felt like self-consciously “white” pop albums to me, a craven desire on The Artist’s part to belong to the world outside the colored queens I had known growing up, who called Prince “Miss.” Why did he want to leave us for that non-world of convention he seemed to aspire to, where “she” got married to a woman who looked like her, then, to make matters worse, dressed as Miles Davis had while on tour promoting his rock-jazz fusion album Bitches Brew? Why did he want to betray the colored queer in himself?
It’s quite the read.
Politicians pay tribute
Lanre Bakare here in New York taking over from Damien.
On this side of the Atlantic there’s been a particular type of tribute that’s began popping up on social media: the political kind. Here is a selection:
Former Republican presidential candidate, Scott Walker:
Minnesota congressman, Erik Paulsen
Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper
Ohio congresswoman, Joyce Beatty
South Carolina senator, Tim Scott
The most apt performance ever
Prince performs Purple Rain during a downpour at the Super Bowl halftime show.
The star tributes continue to roll in
Public radio in Minnesota, Prince’s home state, is playing non-stop Prince in tribute, we learn.
Prince’s manager speaks
It’s hard to blame her for the brevity of her message.
Prince – the sportsman
Slate have tweeted an unlikely string to Prince’s bow …
Prince was famed for his Paisley Park dance parties, and hosted one just this past weekend, writes Amber Jamieson.
Prince performed just on the weekend, inviting people for a Saturday night dance party that cost just $10 to enter at his Paisley Park home where he died today. The party seen as an attmept to prove that reports of his poor health were exaggerated. “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers,” said Prince on Saturday, according to local paper the Star Tribune. He appeared around midnight, playing Chopsticks on the piano and showing off a new guitar. But he did hint at being unwell, but not taking his guitar out of the case, saying: “I can’t play the guitar at all these days so I can keep my mind on this [piano] and get better.”
Official confirmation of the awful news
Prince’s publicist has now issued an official statement:
It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57.
There are no further details as to the cause of death at this time.
Our own Alexis Petridis had one of the final journalistic encounters with Prince, at his Paisley Park studio last November. It was a typically Princeish affair: the Guardian was given 48 hours’ notice that if we sent someone to Minneapolis, we might be granted time with Prince. Time was granted, and he didn’t disappoint, requesting – to our man’s horror – that Alexis sing Sign o’ the Times with him.
He looks at me. “You wanna do this?” he says. I look back at him aghast: there are doubtless things I want to do less than sing Prince’s legendary 1988 hit Sign o’ the Times in front of Prince, but at this exact moment I’m struggling to think of any. For one thing, Prince is, by common consent, the one bona-fide, no-further-questions musical genius that 80s pop produced; a man who can play pretty much any instrument he choses, possessed of a remarkable voice that can still leap effortlessly from baritone to falsetto.
I, on the other hand, am a deeply unfunky Englishman with no discernible musical ability: the sound of my singing voice can ruin your day. For another, I’m a journalist, and thus aware that among Prince’s panoply of talents lies a nonpareil ability to screw with journalists. Rumours abound of him demanding hacks dance in front of him. Only if their gyrations are deemed sufficiently funky do they get face time.
Prince fans have already begun gathering outside his Minnesota home, with someone leaving purple flowers for the purple-loving star.
We have found what may be the last review of a Prince concert, from Atlanta, Georgia. Melissa Ruggieri writes of the gig for AJC.com:
Billed as the “Piano & A Microphone” tour, Prince presented exactly what was advertised. A baby grand piano sat alone, with only a few clusters of candles sharing the stage, while a massive video screen projected kaleidoscopic swirls throughout the hour and 20 minute show.
Yes, if there is a nit to pick, it’s that Prince didn’t even hit the 90-minute mark, and with tickets draining bank accounts for more than $1,000 for the best seats, some fans might feel fleeced. True, the venue needed to be turned in time for the 10 p.m. show, but another few songs likely wouldn’t have affected ebb and flow.
So was it worth it?
Depends on your objective.
Prince the performer is a well-documented master. This was a rare opportunity to witness the raw musicality that pulses through his veins.
His ingeniousness was evident from the stripped version of the opening “Little Red Corvette,” which dovetailed into Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” – an interesting cross-pollination until you realized the similar melodic patterns of the songs.
His voice frequently shifted from blues growl to falsetto and his speak-sung vocals on the emotive “Nothing Compares 2 U” supplied an intimate connection.
At the end of the song, he spread his arms in a “bring it” pose before taking a lap around his piano, a move he employed a couple of times during the show.
Spike Lee, the auteur, has unleashed a wave of tributes on Twitter and Instagram.
We are now interactive. You can share your tributes and memories of Prince by clicking on the blue contribute buttons on this article.
The celebrity tributes are pouring in thick and fast now. This first from Chic frontman Nile Rodgers, one of the star’s good friends and longtime collaborators.
Rapper Lupe Fiasco is feeling it so hard he’s had to tweet twice:
Samuel L Jackson is leading tributes from the world of film:
And Lily Allen’s got in there too:
And our own Caspar Llewellyn Smith, Guardian’s head of culture, has tweeted his own Prince souvenir, a plectrum. It comes from when he played the Kings Place concert hall – beneath the Guardian’s office – in 2014.
And here’s a review of that performance…
For all his hits – 1999, When Doves Cry, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, and so on – Prince will probably be best remembered for one song: Purple Rain. While I try to find a version of that I can safely embed on this blog, take a look at the trailer of the 1984 film of the same name, which was Prince’s first cinematic venture.
La Toya Jackson has posted this picture on Instagram of Prince wielding a guitar in the shape of the famous symbol he once adopted as a name in the midst of a contract dispute with his record company. A glorious hark back to the days when he was known as Tafkap (The Artist Formerly Known As Prince).
News of Prince’s death has led to an outpouring from musicians, ranging from La Toya Jackson to the Wu Tang Clan.
And Piers Morgan has, rather awkwardly, paid tribute to the singer-songwriter’s “sexually charged energy.”
Prince, American music superstar and pioneer, dies aged 57
Prince Rogers Nelson, one of the most successful musical artists of all time, has died aged 57, according to the Associated Press.
Known by his mononym Prince, the Purple Rain singer died at his Paisley Park studio in Minnesota, the state where he was born and raised, according to the AP.
The singer was briefly hospitalized in Illinois last week for a flu emergency, according to TMZ. He cancelled two shows in Atlanta because of the illness.
Police said on Thursday morning that they were investigating a death at Prince’s estate, but would not confirm the deceased’s identity until the next of kin had been notified.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010