Prince died today at his Minneapolis-area recording studio and home, Paisley Park. He was 57. His death, initially reported by TMZ, was later confirmed by his publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure. The cause of Prince's death has not been made public, but last week the star took ill on a flight home from Atlanta. After an emergency landing in Illinois, Prince was taken to a hospital and released the next day. The official word was that he had the flu.
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1958. Musically gifted from a young age, Prince claimed to have written his first song at the age of seven. At 19, he released his debut album, 1978's For You. His commercial breakthrough came in 1982 with his LP 1999, his first release to crack the Top 5 on the Billboard album chart. That record included some of Prince's signature songs, including "Little Red Corvette" and the title track.
His most massive success, however, came with 1984's Purple Rain. That album sold more than 13 million copies in the U.S. topping the Billboard 200 chart for 24 consecutive weeks. The film of the same name, in which Prince also starred, grossed more than $80 million in the U.S. and won an Academy Award for best original song score.
Prince never reached quite that level of success again, but he remained an iconic figure for the rest of his career, and became one of popular music's best-selling artists of all time, with reported sales of over 100 million records. Along the way he won seven Grammys, four MTV Video Music Awards, and the aforementioned Oscar.
Besides his music, Prince was known for his eccentricity, whether he was waging a one-man war on the Internet or changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol. On one hand, he wrote some of the dirtiest songs to ever hit the pop charts, and on the other he claimed to be a deeply devout Christian. However odd his public image, though, Prince was undeniably an amazing musical force.
Here he is playing "Purple Rain" at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2007:
And check out Prince's jaw-dropping guitar solo from this tribute to George Harrison, as part of the latter's posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004: