Music fans and professionals are mourning the loss of revolutionary performer Prince Roger Nelson, better known as Prince.
The artist was found dead in his home near Minneapolis, Minnesota, Thursday. He was 57 years old.
Prince was a highly skilled musician. He played many instruments including guitar, piano and drums. He wrote popular songs that crossed many musical borders. He had a powerful voice with a wide high to low range.
Prince’s music brought together many musical styles including jazz, rhythm & blues, rock and roll, funk, and disco. He had his own unmistakable sound.
Prince had music in his blood. His father was a jazz musician and his mother was a singer. He became a performer at a young age. His first album, “For You” came out in 1978. Prince was 19 at the time.
Prince was famous for more than just his music. He wore makeup and bright, sexy clothing, including pink furs, shiny purple brocade, and high boots. Sometimes he wore very little at all.
Many of the performer’s lyrics described or referred to sex. One song, “Darling Nikki,” came under special attack by a powerful critic: Tipper Gore. Tipper Gore was married at the time to then Senator Al Gore.
Tipper Gore helped lead a parents' movement to place parental advisory messages on albums that included offensive words or language about sex and drugs. She said that she decided to act after watching her young daughter listen to “Darling Nikki.”
Another of Prince’s best-known songs is the 1984 single, “Purple Rain.” The album of the same name sold 20 million copies. “Purple Rain” was also made into a movie starring Prince. He won an Academy Award for the movie’s music.
Prince was a seven-time Grammy award winner. He was admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. The Hall of Fame said Prince “rewrote the rule book, forging a synthesis of black funk and white rock that served as a blueprint for cutting edge music in the 80s.”
Yet, the performer also fought with his record company, Warner Bros., over control of his music. He even temporarily changed his name to a symbol after a contract dispute. For a time, reporters called him “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” He left the record company, but returned several years ago.
Prince sold more than 100 million albums around the world with hit songs such as “Little Red Corvette,” “1999,” and “When Doves Cry.”
He also wrote hit music for other performers including Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and The Bangles’ “Manic Monday."
Many celebrities have been remembering Prince on social media sites. Stevie Wonder praised him for bringing different cultures together in music. Katy Perry tweeted “the world lost a lot of magic.” Madonna called him “a true visionary.”
President Barack Obama also honored the musician. He called the artist “a creative icon.” He said, “As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all.”
Doctors will examine Prince’s body to try to learn the cause of death.
Official say police found the musician in his home after they received an emergency call. They tried to rescue him but he died.
Prince was hospitalized last week. His private airplane made an emergency landing in Illinois after concerts in Georgia. Some reports said he was suffering from the flu.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Materials from VOA News, AP and the New York Times were used in this story. Christopher Jones-Cruise and Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
range – n. from highest to lowest, including all parts of a set
in his blood – idiom meaning a person was born with an ability
forge – v. to create with great effort
synthesis – n. bringing two or more things, often ideas, together to create something new
blueprint – n. the plans for building something
cutting edge – n. the newest, most modern part of some activity or movement
symbol – n. an object that represents an idea, movement or group
icon – n. someone who is the object of devoted attention
prolific – adj. producing a large amount of something