Prince, 57L. Busacca/Getty Images
At the time of his death from an accidental fentanyl overdose, Prince had just concluded a 20-show tour, and his 39th studio album, “HITnRUN Phase Two,” was streaming on Apple Music and iTunes. It was a sudden end to a prolific career that spanned four decades and many musical styles, including funk, rock, pop and R&B. His sexually charged lyrics and daring, ever-changing look, as well as his electric presence on stage, made him an international pop icon.
"I like to say I live in the world, but I’m not of it."- Prince
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“Around the World in a Day” came out in 1985, featuring the hits “Raspberry Beret” and “Pop Life.”
Prince performs at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Feb.17, 1985.
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Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis. He wrote his first song (“Funk Machine”) at age 7 and taught himself to play the piano and other instruments by ear; he would eventually create all the tracks on many of his albums. “For You,” his first album, was released in 1978, followed by a series of successes that included “Dirty Mind” (1980) and “1999” (1982). “Purple Rain,” the 1984 soundtrack from the movie loosely based on his life, won an Academy Award, two Grammys and other accolades. He sold more than 100 million albums, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Prince in Detroit in April, 2015.
The artist speaks during American Music Awards on Nov. 22, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Prince forged his own path in the music industry, demanding full creative control from the onset of his career and famously changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol in the late 1990s during a dispute with his then-label, Warner Bros. He also wrote hits for other artists, like “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor and Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You,” and played guitar on Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” At home in Minneapolis, he was known for supporting young musicians, helping them get equipment and studio time. He was also a philanthropist, making donations quietly through his Love 4 One Another charity.
"'A strong spirit transcends rules,' Prince once said — and nobody's spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative."- President Obama
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In the days and weeks after Prince’s death, fans from all walks of life made impromptu shrines, shared their favorite memories and wore purple clothing. The cast of the Broadway smash “Hamilton” gave a performance of “Let’s Go Crazy” after curtain call, and director Spike Lee hosted a Brooklyn block party in his honor. A trove of unreleased music was found in the artist’s archives, and a greatest hits album, “4Ever,” was released in November.
An April 2017 celebration in Paisley Park, the recording compound he built in the mid-1980s in Chanhassen, Minn., is planned to mark the first anniversary of his death.