It seems like we have been writing way too many of these memorial tributes lately. 2016 had been a rough year, and now we have lost another great musician. Prince Rogers Nelson was an amazing musician, icon and innovator.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7, 1958, Prince had been interested in music from a young age writing songs as young as seven years old. He hit the big time when he was 19, with his first commercial album For You in 1978, He continued his success with four more albums , one of which went platinum. In 1984, Prince and the Revolution, as he had named his backup band, released Purple Rain. Purple Rain was the soundtrack to a film by the same name, which has become a cult classic. Purple Rain was voted as one of the greatest albums in music history. It made it to 15th place in the Time magazine poll in 1993, and it placed 18th on VH1’s Greatest Rock and Roll Albums of All Time countdown.
Prince did not rest on his laurels, and kept making hits. He was such a prolific songwriter, he wrote under many pseudonyms and for many different artists. One was the smash hit, Nothing Compares 2 U, which was performed by Sinead O’Connor. Prince sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best selling artist of all time. The awards he has garnered for his iconic career are numerous, including seven Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the first year of his eligibility and Rolling Stone has ranked him at 27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Prince was no stranger to controversy as many of his lyrics were sexually explicit and pushed the boundaries. His song Darling Nikki inspired the controversial Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), which sought to put warning labels on music and brought censorship to the forefront of American society. He also publicly protested financial and artistic control of his music, appearing at a court hearing with the word “slave” painted on his cheek. Not long after, he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol to take back control from his record company. He explained the change with this statement:
“The first step I have taken toward the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros. was to change my name from Prince to the Love Symbol. Prince is the name that my mother gave me at birth. Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music that I wrote. The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros…
I was born Prince and did not want to adopt another conventional name. The only acceptable replacement for my name, and my identity, was the Love Symbol, a symbol with no pronunciation, that is a representation of me and what my music is about. This symbol is present in my work over the years; it is a concept that has evolved from my frustration; it is who I am. It is my name.”
Eventually he began referring to himself as Prince again, but this definitely made a statement.
Over and through all this controversy was the music. Prince was an amazing musician, playing almost all of the instruments on the first five albums he made. He played all the instruments on the song “When Doves Cry” as well as singing.
A talented and iconic performer. He will be missed.