Prince, a dizzylingly prolific multi-instrumentalist and virtuosic performer, was found dead at his recording studio in Minnesota early on Thursday, his publicist Yvette Noel-Schure told The Associated Press. He was 57.
Deputies are on scene at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, authorities told The Hollywood Reporter. The sheriff’s office says they are conducting a death investigation currently and are notifying next of kin before releasing the name of the individual who died.
The artist’s rep has not yet responded to a request for comment. No further information was immediately available.
The performer was born Prince Rogers Nelson June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minn.
He released his debut album, For You, in 1978, followed by Prince (1979),Dirty Mind (1980) and Controversy (1981). All of them traded in his trademark sound — deep synth funk grooves with provocatively sexual lyrics and heart-piercing ballads sung in pure falsetto.
His mainstream breakthrough came with back-to-back albums with his backing band the Recultion: In 1982, 1999 launched several pop and dance floor hits onto the charts, including Little Red Corvette and the title song, a post-apocalyptic party anthem.
Two years later he released the album — a soundtrack, actually, to his movie-starring debut — that would launch him into the same superstar stratosphere of other ‘80s pop titans like Michael Jackson and Madonna.
The soundtrack was 1984’s Purple Rain, a searing musical backdrop to a semi-autobiographical tale of “The Kid,” a Minneapolis rocker from an abusive family. The album launched five singles, two of which — “When Doves Cry” and Let’s Go Crazy” — went to Number 1 on the Billboard chart. The title ballad reached No. 2 and has gone on to become one of the most recognizable rock anthems in history. The soundtrack itself is frequently cited on music critics’ polls as being one of the best of all time.
Subsequent releases grew more experimental in nature, including the pyschedelic Around the World in a Day (1985) and Sign “O” the Times (1987), a double album recorded partly before a live audience in Paris that dispensed with the Revolution and which is widely to considered to have been produced at Prince’s creative peak. (Among the compositions on it are “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” “If I was Your Girlfriend,” and “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man.”
In between he starred in one more film, 1986’s Under the Cherry Moon, in which he stars as a gigolo wooing Kristin Scott Thomas in the south of France. The movie bombed, but produced a successful soundtrack album:Parade, which featured the hits “Kiss” and “Mountains.”
Throughout the 1990s, Prince was later backed by a large band known as The New Power Generation, and his sound moved away from synth and heavy rock guitars and into one of brassier R&B. In 1993, he famously changed his name to that of an unpronounceable glyph that melded the symbols for male and female.
The move was one of protest against his label. Warner Bros., leading him to shave the word “Slave” into his face at one. Between 1994 and 1996 he churned out the five remaining records due on his contract and signed with Arista Records in 1998.
By the 2000s, the glyph was retired and he was once again referring to himself as Prince. In the 15 years since, he’s released an astonishing 15 records and toured tirelessly. His latest tour, dubbed “Piano & a Microphone,” saw him criss-crossing the globe from Melbourne, Aus., to Oakland, Calif., performing an intimate, improvised evening of hits performed solo at a grand piano.
On the night he learned of his collaborator Vanity’s recent death, Prince told the crowd, “I just found out a little while ago that someone dear to us has passed away. So I’m going to dedicate this song to her.”
The song was: “Little Red Corvette.”
[ report by Seth Abramovitch, Ryan Parker & Erik Hayden ]