World Reels at Loss of Prince
Yesterday, iconic, reclusive rock star Prince was found dead in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota. He was just 57 years old.
The sudden passing of the Purple One comes during what’s been a terrible year for music, which got off to a grim start with the death of David Bowie in January, and has also seen the loss of country giant Merle Haggard. As the news ricocheted across social media, tributes sprang up immediately, but none was more touching than KEXP DJ Kevin Cole’s. Before he landed at the Seattle station, Cole had been a radio and club DJ in Minneapolis, and often told stories of Prince bringing him demos, so could proof them over a club’s massive sound system.
“Prince was an artist with a capital A; one of the greatest guitar players of all time, a brilliant songwriter, amazing singer and dynamic performer who was also a champion of personal freedom and individualism. He was fearless—singing about sex, God, gender, race…sometimes all in the same song. He could move your ass and stir your soul simultaneously.”
It’s virtually impossible to overstate the musical and social impact of Prince. He was among the first black artists to get airplay on the fledgling MTV, and while he was known for sometimes bizarre behavior–fist fights with Sinead O’Connor, changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol–it never overshadowed his genius as a performer. His set during the 2007 Super Bowl, where he played during a torrential rainstorm, was a historic television moment. To the many millions who watched him deliver a stunning, pitch-perfect rendition of “Purple Rain,” it appeared as if he’d commanded the skies to open up.
Over the course of his career, Prince released a breathtaking 40 albums, and his prolific nature guarantees fans will continue to get new material from him for at least a decade. But the landscape of popular music has been changed irreparably by his death, and the world is a lot less funky, groovy and sexy than it was before he left us.
In the words of William Shakespeare, “Good night, sweet Prince.”