PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Pop music superstar Prince was found dead at his home in suburban Minneapolis on Thursday.
Sheriff’s deputies say the singer was found unresponsive in an elevator and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
He was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m.
A cause of death wasn’t immediately determined. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday.
The man born Prince Rogers Nelson stood just 5 feet, 2 inches 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.”
The singer, songwriter, arranger and instrumentalist was widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive musicians of his era, drawing upon influences ranging from James Brown to the Beatles to Jimi Hendrix. His hits included “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry.”
The Minneapolis native broke through in the late 1970s with the hit “Wanna Be Your Lover” and soared over the following decade with such albums as “1999” and “Purple Rain.”
Follow the news of his death, many celebrities took to social media to mourn the legendary singer.
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 Associated Press in 2014. “I was just trying to get here.”
In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame, which hailed him as a musical and social trailblazer.
“He rewrote the rulebook, forging a synthesis of black funk and white rock that served as a blueprint for cutting-edge music in the Eighties,” reads the Hall’s dedication. “Prince made dance music that rocked and rock music that had a bristling, funky backbone. From the beginning, Prince and his music were androgynous, sly, sexy and provocative.”
Here in Pittsburgh, the Homestead-Grays Bridge was bathed purple Thursday night to remember Prince. Purple spotlights shined on the span throughout the evening.
The Gulf Tower also turned purple when nighttime fell over Downtown Pittsburgh Thursday evening.
Prince played five shows in Pittsburgh:
- March 1st & 2nd, 1980 at the Stanley Theater (Fire It Up Tour)
- November 20, 1981 – Stanley Theater (Prince & The Time – Controversy Tour)
- October 28, 1988 – Civic Arena (Love & Sexy Tour)
- September 20, 1997 – Civic Arena (Jam Of The Year Tour)
- April 14, 2004 – Mellon Arena (Musicology Tour)
“He never overexposed himself by coming into town too often. I think four times, two times at the Stanley, two times I had him at the Mellon Arena. We produced that show, it sold out every time,” said concert promoter Rich Engler.
Engler said one night Prince was waiting in the wings with just a robe on.
“Next thing I know, the announcer says ladies and gentlemen here’s Prince. He drops the robe – black bikini underwear. That was his stage outfit,” Engler said with a laugh.
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.”
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