Prince, the prodigious musical icon who became one of the most revered and inspirational artists in pop history with songs about sex and salvation, the holy and profane, has died, according to multiple media reports.
The singer’s body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Carver County, Minnesota, this morning, the local sheriff’s office confirmed in a tweet.
“Prince Rogers Nelson (57) found dead at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN,” the tweet reads. “We are investigating the circumstances of his death.”
Carver County officials reported “a medical, Paisley Park … for a male down not breathing,” per the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
According to Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO, deputies for the sheriff’s department arrived at Paisley Park at 9:43 a.m. on Thursday and found the singer unresponsive in an elevator. Responders were unable to revive him with CPR.
While the cause of death is not known at this time, Prince’s private plane made an emergency landing at Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois, last Friday morning, as the singer was en route home from a concert in Atlanta.
He was rushed to a nearby hospital and had apparently been experiencing flu symptoms, which worsened during the flight. He was released from the hospital after three hours.
Prince was a boundlessly creative and prolific artist, knocking out instant classics including “Purple Rain” and “Sign O The Times” as well as daring works like “The Black Album” — a play on the title of the Beatles “White Album” that also inspired a Jay-Z black album.
Prince was a perfect bridge between classic rock and hip-hop — an artist who took musical inspiration from the past, but sang honestly and sassily about sex on songs like “Darling Nikki” that shocked media watchdogs and censors, long before artists like NWA did.
At his peak, only Michael Jackson and Madonna rivaled him in pop culture impact. His French Revolution-inspired attire made him a fashion icon, and his mix of sex and salvation — sometimes in the same song — made him a pop culture provocateur who was second-to-none.
His song catalogue would put just about anyone’s to shame. A partial but severely abbreviated list includes the classics “Purple Rain,” “Little Red Corvette,” “1999,” “Controversy,” “When the Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Nothing Compares 2 U,” “The Beautiful Ones,” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” He wrote hits for other artists and was sampled or covered by artists ranging from Sinead O’Connor to MC Hammer.
In addition to his prolific music career, Prince also enjoyed a career on the screen. He famously played a version of himself in the 1984 smash hit film “Purple Rain.” The film grossed over $80 million at the box office against a $7 million budget. It also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score.
The accompanying album for the film sold 1.5 million copies its first week in stores and won two Grammys the year it was released. It is consistently ranked among the best rock album of all times.
He has sold in excess of 100 million records worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, his first year of eligibility.
Back in March, he announced that he would publish a memoir tentatively titled “The Beautiful Ones.” World rights to the book were acquired from Esther Newberg and Dan Kirschen at ICM Partners.
He also had a sense of humor about his famously serious, mysterious image: Soon after comedian Dave Chappelle famously parodied Prince in a sketch for “Chappelle’s Show” in 2004, during which Charlie Murphy recounted how the rocker beat him and some friends in a game of basketball, Prince invited the “Chappelle’s Show” creators to his home, where he lounged in golden pajamas.
First Avenue, the Minneapolis club where Prince often played early in his career, posted a touching tribute on their Facebook page.
“Our hearts are broken,” it reads. “Prince was the Patron Saint of First Avenue. He grew up on this stage, and then commanded it, and he united our city. It is difficult to put into words the impact his death will have on the entire music community, and the world. As the tragic news sinks in, our thoughts are with Prince’s family, friends, and fans. We deeply mourn the loss of our friend, a true star.”