When singer Prince Rogers Nelson unexpectedly died on April 21, 2016, he ended a musical career that few other artists could match. It has been said that Prince’s unreleased material alone could equal an annual album drop for the next two decades. Beginning as a teenage musical prodigy in the late 70s, Prince was a major influence on music, fashion and what it meant to live the celebrity lifestyle.
As a student of music legends as diverse as James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding, the young Prince’s first major achievement was getting noticed at all. At a time when many unestablished musicians were willing to allow music labels to control almost all aspects of their material, Prince fought hard to produce his own music his own way (playing 27 different instruments), and his early albums “For You” and “Prince” benefited from that tenacity.
Perhaps Prince’s highest achievement by pop culture standards was the 1984 movie and multi-platinum soundtrack album “Purple Rain”. Although he already had established himself as a master of pop funk with such hits as “1999” and “Little Red Corvette”, it was the sheer brilliance of “Purple Rain” that put him in the company of 80s icons such as Madonna and Michael Jackson.
While Prince never managed to follow up on the success of the film “Purple Rain”, musically he continued to score with various combinations of musicians, from his original line-up the Revolution to the New Power Generation and finally to the short-lived 3rdeyegirl collaboration. Prince managed to remain just as relevant in his later years as he did as the brash young newcomer of the early 80s, and he left behind a legacy that may never be duplicated in this generation of musical artists.