Pop superstar Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57.
"It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57," publicist Yvette Noel-Schure said.
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Few details were immediately released amid the outpouring of shock and grief -from fans, musicians, President Barack Obama and celebrities online. Prince had been fighting the flu for several weeks, a rep said last week, after his plane made an emergency landing on Friday because he was ill.
The singer, songwriter, arranger and instrumentalist broke through in the late 1970s with the hits "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover," and soared over the following decade with such albums as "1999" and "Purple Rain." The title song from "1999" includes one of the most widely quoted refrains of popular culture: "Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999."
Three of his songs — "Purple Rain," ''Little Red Corvette," and "When Doves Cry," — surged to 7th, 9th and 10th on iTunes' Top Songs chart in the wake of Prince's death.
Four of his albums — "The Very Best of Prince," ''Purple Rain," ''The Hits / The B-Sides," and "1999" — jumped to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 8th on iTunes' Top Albums chart by Thursday afternoon.
President Obama called Prince a virtuoso in a statement released soon after the death of the "creative icon": "Nobody's spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him."
Sheriff's deputies who had been called to his suburban Minneapolis compound found Prince was unresponsive in an elevator when he was found by, Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said Thursday. Deputies responded to a medical call about 9:43 a.m. Medical personnel tried CPR, but couldn't revive the 57-year-old Prince, who was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m.
The sheriff's brief statement said the death was under investigation and provided no other details.
On Saturday, after his brief visit to the hospital, Prince attempted to ease concerns about his health by announcing a dance party at Paisley Park, where he made a brief appearance, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Prince also stopped by a record store Saturday in honor of #RecordStoreDay and appeared "well" and "looked normal," Electric Fetus manager Bob Fuchs told NBC News. Fuchs said Prince purchased six CDs.
The Minneapolis native, born Prince Rogers Nelson, stood just 5 feet 2 inches tall, and seemed to summon the most original and compelling sounds at will, whether playing guitar in a flamboyant style that openly drew upon Jimi Hendrix, switching his vocals from a nasally scream to an erotic falsetto or turning out album after album of stunningly original material. Among his other notable releases: "Sign O' the Times," ''Graffiti Bridge" and "The Black Album."
He was also fiercely protective of his independence, battling his record company over control of his material and even his name. Prince once wrote "slave" on his face in protest of not owning his work and famously battled and then departed his label, Warner Bros., before returning a few years ago.
"What's happening now is the position that I've always wanted to be in," Prince told the AP in 2014. "I was just trying to get here."
The same year, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame, which hailed him as a musical and social trailblazer.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame CEO and President Greg Harris said that Prince "changed the game."
"He controlled the stage, he controlled the music and he controlled the media," Harris said in a statement.
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Rarely lacking in confidence, Price effortlessly absorbed the music of others and made it sound like Prince, whether the James Brown guitar riff on "Kiss" or the Beatle-esque, psychedelic pop of "Raspberry Beret."
He also proved a source of hits for others, from Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" to Cyndi Lauper's "When You Were Mine." He also wrote "Manic Monday" for the Bangles.
Prince had been touring and recording right up until his death, releasing four albums in the last 18 months, including two on the Tidal streaming service last year. He performed in Atlanta last week as part of his "Piano and a Microphone" tour, a stripped down show that has featured a mix of his hits like "Purple Rain" or "Little Red Corvette" and some B-sides from his extensive library.
Prince debuted the intimate format at his Paisley Park studios in January, treating fans to a performance that was personal and was both playful and emotional at times.
The musician had seemed to be shedding his reclusive reputation. He hosted several late-night jam sessions where he serenaded Madonna, celebrated the Minnesota Lynx's WNBA championship and showcased his latest protege, singer Judith Hill.
Ever surprising, he announced on stage in New York City last month that he was writing his memoir. "The Beautiful Ones" was expected to be released in the fall of 2017 by publishing house Spiegel & Grau. The publishing house has not yet commented on the status of the book, but a press release about the memoir says: "Prince will take readers on an unconventional and poetic journey through his life and creative work." It says the book will include stories about Prince's music and "the family that shaped him and the people, places, and ideas that fired his creative imagination."
A small group of fans quickly gathered in the rain Thursday outside his music studio, Paisley Park, where Prince's gold records are on the walls and the purple motorcycle he rode in his 1984 breakout movie, "Purple Rain," is on display. The white building surrounded by a fence is in Chanhassen, about 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis.
Steven Scott, 32, of Eden Prairie, said he was at Paisley Park last Saturday for Prince's dance party. He called Prince "a beautiful person" whose message was that people should love one another.
"He brought people together for the right reasons," Scott said.