A musical virtuoso and considered one of the best guitarists, vocalists, songwriter, mentor to many other musicians, and keyboard artist of all time, Prince won seven Grammy Awards and one Oscar during his career that ended tragically with his untimely death on April 21, 2016.
Prince staunchly advocated for musician’s rights regarding artistic freedom, compensation, ownership, and copyright protection. He also worked to get online retailers and streaming services to pay better royalties. He also advocated for animal rights and in the later years of his life Prince was a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The son of a jazz singer, Mattie Della, and a pianist/songwriter, John Lewis Nelson, Prince’s given name was Prince Rogers Nelson. He grew up and spent his entire life in Minneapolis and signed his first recording deal with Warner Bros. Records in 1978. His sixth album and the one that defined his career, Purple Rain, was released on June 25, 1984 also by Warner Bros. Records.
The song was played for the first time on August 3, 1983 at First Avenue in Minneapolis and it was here that Prince performed for many years and where parts of the rock musical drama film Purple Rain were shot. The movie that was scored by and stared Prince, had a budget of $7.2 million, grossed $72 million worldwide, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score.
First Avenue was formerly an Art-Deco-style building originally constructed as a Greyhound bus station in 1937 in downtown Minneapolis. The nightclub opened in 1970 under the name The Depot and became First Avenue on New Year’s Eve 1981. To this day, First Avenue is a Minneapolis landmark, one of the busiest and most popular music venues in the Twin Cities, and one of the most famous performance venues in the country.
In March 2004 Prince was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Like Michael Jackson before him and like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Bruno Mars after him, Prince was the star performer at the halftime show at Super Bowl XLI in Miami on February 7, 2007. Ironically his is 12-minute performance took place during a torrential downpour and “Purple Rain” was the final song.
Prince’s final beloved home where the superstar enjoyed his place of refuge also served as a recording studio, sound stage, and recording hall was a 65,000 square foot, $10 million-dollar industrial looking building known as
Paisley Park. Built in 1986 and located in the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen, Paisley Park was named after a song Prince wrote in 1985. Prince lived at Paisley Park from 1987 until his death.
Impromptu memorials propped up throughout the country on the day Prince died. According to the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator at Paisley Park. An autopsy determined that Prince died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl that he took for chronic hip pain.
Prince died without a will and his body was secretly cremated the day after his death. His ashes remain at Paisley Park in a secure 19”x18”x14” urn in the shape of the building. Six months after Prince’s death, Paisley Park opened to the public for guided tours. Tickets range in price from $45-160 and tours are limited to the first floor only.