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Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) was an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. A multi-instrumentalist who was considered a guitar virtuoso, he was well known for his eclectic work across multiple genres, flamboyant and androgynous persona, and wide vocal range which included a far-reaching falsetto and high-pitched screams.
Prince's innovative music integrated a wide variety of styles, including funk, R&B, rock, new wave, soul, synth-pop, psychedelia, pop, industrial, and hip hop. He pioneered the Minneapolis sound, a funk rock subgenre that emerged in the late 1970s. He was also known for his prolific output, releasing 39 albums during his life, with a vast array of unreleased projects left in a vault at his home after his death; it is believed that the vault contains dozens of fully produced albums and over 50 music videos that have never been released, along with various other media. He released hundreds of songs both under his own name and multiple pseudonyms during his life, as well as writing songs that were made famous by other musicians, such as "Nothing Compares 2 U" and "Manic Monday". Estimates of the complete number of songs written by Prince range anywhere from 500 to well over 1,000.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Prince signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records at the age of 19. In 1984, he and his backup band, The Revolution, released his sixth album Purple Rain, which was also the soundtrack to his hugely successful film acting debut of the same name. It quickly became his most commercially successful record, spending 24 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200. The film also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, the final film to receive the award. After disbanding The Revolution, Prince released the critically acclaimed double album Sign o' the Times (1987). In the midst of a contractual dispute with Warner Bros. in 1993, he changed his stage name to the unpronounceable symbol (known to fans as the "Love Symbol"), and was sometimes referred to as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" or simply "The Artist". He signed with Arista Records in 1998 and began referring to himself by his own name again in 2000.
In April 2016, at the age of 57, Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park home and recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He sold over 130 million records worldwide, ranking him among the best-selling music artists of all time. He was honored with special awards including the Grammy President's Merit Award, the American Music Awards for Achievement and of Merit, and the Billboard Icon Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2016. Rolling Stone placed Prince among its list of both the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. He is also ranked on the Top 100 Artists of All Time list by Billboard.
Last Updated: June 23, 2020