Good Night, Sweet Prince: Remembering a Music Icon
Darick T. Earney
Legendary music icon Prince passed away at the age of 57 on Thurs., April 21, due to complications after a drug overdose.
The late musician was discovered in his personal recording studio, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, Minnesota on the morning of his death. He was unmarried, and is not survived by any children.
For over 30 years, Prince has established himself as a musical visionary, pioneering what is known today as the “Minneapolis Sound,” fusing elements of music genres such as Funk, Hip-Hop, Jazz, R&B, Soul, Disco, Pop, and more into one original sound.
“Like so many, I enjoyed his music as a listener, but also learned from it as a musician,” Professor of Music, Peter Hussey, remarked. “While you always knew it was Prince, you could hear all at once the evolving nature of his music, and yet how deep his musical roots went. He knew his art form and his musical history/inspirations so well.”
The singer-songwriter was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7, 1958 to mother, Mattie Della Shaw and father, John Lewis Nelson. His full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, and he developed an interest in music from an early age, with both of his parents being local musicians.
Growing up, Prince began writing songs as early as seven years old, while playing on his father’s piano. Developing a variety of tastes in music during his formative years, the future icon released his debut studio record titled “For You” (1978), at age 19.
“For You” was met with underwhelming reviews, prompting Prince to work harder on his sound. In 1979, he released his self-titled second studio album, and followed up with the universally acclaimed “Dirty Mind” in 1980, making him nearly a superstar overnight.
Subsequently, the artist released the albums “Controversy” in 1981 and “1999” in 1982, generating a slew of chart-topping singles like “Little Red Corvette” and the title track ‘1999.’
In addition, Prince released the “Purple Rain” soundtrack with his then backup band, The Revolution, in 1984, to accompany the worldwide release of the film of the same title.
The movie was a success, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Score, helping associated acts Morris Day and The Time and Apollonia 6 gain notoriety.
Returning to a solo career in the late 80s, Prince wrote the original soundtrack for Tim Burton’s major motion picture, “Batman” (1989), and powered through the 90s with hits like “Cream,’ and “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World,’ before controversially changing his stage name into a symbol.
After seeing stagnancy in his career during the early-to-mid 2000s, Prince achieved a Golden Globe win for his original song “The Song of The Heart,” composed for the 2006 animated movie “Happy Feet.” He went on to play a historical halftime show at Super Bowl 41 in 2007.
His final studio album, “HITnRUN: Phase One” was released on Sept. 7, 2015 through the music based streaming service, TIDAL, and on compact disc on Sept. 14, 2015.
Producing up to 39 studio albums, four live albums, and selling over 100 million albums collectively, Prince has earned 32 Grammy nominations over the span of his career, with seven wins total, and passed on while in the process of writing his memoir.
Needless to say, the late icon is gone, but is far from forgotten from fans, friends, and a new era of listeners, reminding us everyday, as he once said: “Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.”