On the morning of April 21, 2016, Prince, the polymathic musician who has created over 30 albums and won seven Grammy Awards in his 40-year career, was found dead in Paisley Park, his home and recording studio in Minnesota. The cause of death was an accidental overdose of fentanyl opioid. He was 57 years old.
In the hours and days after the news broke, fans around the world mourned his death with massive memorials. In a statement, President Obama said, “Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or have touched so many people with their talent.”
Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, to musicians Mattie Shaw and John Nelson. As a teenager, Prince played in groups with his friends. In 1978, at the age of 20, he signed his first recording contract with Warner Bros., and the same year released his first album, For you. Almost every year after, he releases a new album.
Prince’s sixth studio album, Purple rain, released in 1984, was a highlight. The album spent 24 consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 charts, spawned two hit singles (“When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy”), won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance, and won. sold 13 million copies. The accompanying film of the same name, which starred Prince in a vaguely autobiographical role, won the Oscar for Best Original Score. The album and the film’s success both propelled Prince to international stardom.
Throughout his career, Prince has challenged and transcended the genre. His music fused elements of funk, R&B, rock and pop into what later became known as Minneapolis Sound. Famous, he usually played all the instruments from his albums himself – including 27 (ranging from piano to electric guitar to finger cymbals) on For you. He also toured frequently and was known as a particularly electrifying live artist.
In the years leading up to his death, Prince was taking prescription pain relievers for chronic hip pain. He is believed to be struggling with an opioid addiction. He still recorded and performed during this time. His latest album, Hit n Run Phase two, was published in December 2015.
In October 2016, six months after Prince’s death, Paisley Park opened its doors to the public for tours. In 2016, Prince’s Estate sold more albums than any other artist that year, dead or alive.