Words By: Gerrod Harris
It was reported that Prince’s body was found in Paisley Park, his home and studio, this morning. The news, which was broke by TMZ, has since been confirmed by numerous sources, including representatives of the singer. The cause of death has yet to be revealed.
Just last week, Prince was checked into an Illinois hospital following an emergency landing from his private jet, as the musician was battling severe flu like symptoms and dehydration. The next day, Prince was seen riding his bicycle around his home town of Chanhassen, Minnesota, and was reportedly planning an all-night dance party.
The news has struck the world into a state of shock. Aside from his trip to the hospital last week, there have been no claims of the singer facing ill health. Just weeks ago- March 25th– I was fortunate enough to attend his second set, of two, at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts as a part of his sporadic and elusive Piano and a Microphone Tour. He showed no signs of slowing down, oh no, but rather put on a set of thirty songs, reworked to display his appreciation for jazz, funk, and soul. His piano playing was the perfect combination of Thelonious Monk, Stevie Wonder, and Billy Joel, but was unmistakably Prince. It was one of the greatest artistic performances I had witnessed; it was like sitting in on musical church.
Prince is most famous for his pop rock textures which can define the 80’s, with classic and critically acclaimed albums of the likes of 1999, Controversy, Purple Rain, Sign ‘O’ The Times, and many more. His recent albums, Plectrumelectrum, Art Official Age, and Hitnrun Phase One and Two each were excellent examples of a fusion between funky, riff based rock and modern electronic pop. Prince was a musical genius; no one wrote like him, no one played guitar like him, no one put on a show like him, and certainly no one sang like him. Prince, while mostly known for his pop rock and soul music, was also quite the accomplished guitarist, evoking a funky tone with the technique of a rock veteran. One example which stands out, aside from his live show on 2015’s Hit ‘n’ Run Tour, was a tribute for George Harrison at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 in which he laid down two jaw dropping solos throughout an all-star performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.
It is undeniable that Prince was a true legend, musically and socially. Since the 80’s, he has challenged the music industry over issues of ownership, royalty rates, and unfair contracts, and through his cause, he would shape the industry for future artists. Even very recently, he was discussing how Youtube’s model for compensating musicians was not sustainable for the artists, while also delivering an impassioned speech at the 2015 Grammy’s about the importance of albums.
May you rest easy Prince, one of the greatest, most innovative, and unique musicians, who put everything he had-endless amounts of talent and soul- into everything he did while maintaining his integrity and artistry until the very end. Thank you Prince, for a rich discography, and a genre bending influence which has left this world for the better.
Watch a live performance from 1982:
Watch Prince shred over “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”: