One of the great musical icons of a generation has passed away.
The pop superstar and legendary musician Prince died Thursday in his home in Minnesota, according to his publicist. He was 57.
His publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, told The Associated Press the music icon died at his home in Chanhassen, Minn., about 32 kilometres southwest of Minneapolis. No details were immediately released.
Authorities in Chanhassen responded to a call for a medical emergency at Prince’s home recording studio Paisley Park on Thursday morning The medical examiner was also called to the scene.
“When deputies and medical personnel arrived, they found an unresponsive adult male in the elevator,” said Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson in a statement. “First responders attempted to provide lifesaving CPR, but were unable to revive the victim.”
The cause of the singer-songwriter’s death is still unclear, but Prince was rushed to a hospital in Illinois on April 15 suffering from a particularly serious strain of the flu.
The nagging illness had forced him to re-schedule two performances in Georgia earlier this month.
Prince, whose real name was Prince Rogers Nelson, was born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minn. His parents were both musicians – his dad played the piano and his mom was a popular jazz singer.
He rose to fame for his unique music style – it combined rock, R&B, soul and funk. He sold over 100 million records worldwide and became, by all accounts, one of the best-selling artists of all time. He was known for hits such as “Purple Rain,” “Kiss,” “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry,” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.”
The prolific musician had been recording right up until his death, releasing four albums in the last 18 months, including two on the streaming service Tidal last year.
The head of The Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammys, hailed the singer as “one of the most uniquely gifted artists of all time.”
“Today, we remember and celebrate him as one of the most uniquely gifted artists of all time. Never one to conform, he redefined and forever changed our musical landscape,” said president and CEO Neil Portnow, in a statement.
“Prince was an original who influenced so many, and his legacy will live on forever. We have lost a true innovator and our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends, collaborators, and all who have been impacted by his incredible work.”
President Barack Obama took to Facebook to offer his condolences to fans around the world “mourning the sudden death of Prince.”
“Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent,” Obama said. “As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.”
For his work he won several trophies, including seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
“He rewrote the rulebook, forging a synthesis of black funk and white rock that served as a blueprint for cutting-edge music in the Eighties,” reads the dedication at the museum. “Prince made dance music that rocked and rock music that had a bristling, funky backbone. From the beginning, Prince and his music were androgynous, sly, sexy and provocative.”
Prince also had a special connection to the city of Toronto he once called home.
Just last month, the rock icon performed two surprise concerts at the Sony Centre that he announced only two days earlier.
The innovative and wildly talented artist married a married Toronto native Manuela Testolini in the early 2000s, and resided in the upscale Bridle Path neighbourhood. The couple divorced in 2006.
Guitarist Donna Grantis, who is in Prince’s all-female backup band 3rd Eye Girl, was based in Toronto as a studio musician when she was discovered by his team.
In a 2004 interview with The Canadian Press the singer said candidly: “I love Toronto.”
“It’s cosmopolitan,” he continued. “There’s all sorts of different kinds of people everywhere you go in Toronto, there’s all sorts of great music, great restaurants, great night spots that don’t respond to a lot of American playlists and have playlists which I really dig. It’s a real melting pot in every sense of the word.”
The Purple Rain hit maker recently announced he was writing a memoir tentatively called The Beautiful Ones.
In a press release it was described as “an unconventional and poetic journey through his life and creative work – from the family that shaped him and the people, places, and ideas that fired his creative imagination, to the stories behind the music that changed the world.”
Fans gathered in the rain Thursday outside Paisley Park where Prince’s gold records hang on the walls and the purple motorcycle he rode in his 1984 movie, “Purple Rain.”
Prince’s death comes on the heels of the passing of fellow music legend David Bowie. The other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries, and who was known as Ziggy Stardust, died of cancer at the age of 69 in January 2016.
With files from Sarah Kelsey and Andrew Russell (Global News)