(Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
Prince, the Grammy and Oscar-winning artist who shot to superstardom while blurring the lines between rock, pop, and R&B with a series of multi-platinum albums and hit films throughout the 1980s and beyond, has passed away at the age of 57.
Initially reported by TMZ, Prince’s death has been confirmed by the Associated Press, acting on information from a publicist. Although he was briefly hospitalized on April 15, his passing comes as a shock; after he left the hospital, representatives dismissed the incident, attributing it to a battle with the flu. He performed the following day, but had canceled a pair of recent shows due to health concerns, and was at home in Minneapolis when he died.
Born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958, the Minneapolis native released his first solo album, For You, in 1978 and hit the Top 40 with a self-titled follow-up the following year. His profile skyrocketed with the Top 10 sales of 1999, but even that was only a prelude to the massive success of 1984’s Purple Rain.
A multi-platinum Grammy-winning album as well as an Oscar-winning film, Purple Rain helped redefine the rock movie while serving as a springboard into subsequent Hollywood activity for Prince, who followed it with Under the Cherry Moon (1986), Sign O’ the Times (1987), and Graffiti Bridge (1990). While none of those films managed to make the same impact he’d enjoyed with Purple Rain, they were all part of a multimedia reign that also included a handful of significant soundtrack work, most notably for Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989.
An acrimonious falling out with his longtime label Warner Bros. prefaced Prince striking out as a free agent in the 1990s, and although sales for a series of licensed or self-released albums were uneven, he remained a prolific artist and an incendiary live performer who continued to draw sellout crowds to a series of well-received tours. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, he sold more than 100 million albums over the course of a career that included nearly 40 solo studio LPs. At the time of his death, he was only a few months removed from his most recent release, HITnRUN Phase Two, and had announced plans to pen a memoir.