TRIP SLAYMAKER ’18
Legendary musician and performer Prince died last Thursday, Apr. 21, at the age of fifty-seven. The singer was found unresponsive on the grounds of his Paisley Park compound outside Minneapolis, MN.
Prince emerged as a musician at the end of the 1970’s. Though initially unnoticed by the masses, the artist was hailed by critics as a natural talent, and seen as a one-man resurgence of classic-rock skill. It was with the release of his 1982 hit “1999” that Prince finally began to climb the charts, and gained national attention. The 80’s were peppered with Prince’s musical breakthroughs and triumphs, though much of his exposure came to him by way of controversy. The overt sexuality of his lyrics and his risquee performance costumes made him the cutting edge of 80s pop-rock, and the bane of conservative parents. Doubts about Prince’s artistic ability diminished, however, after he won an Academy Award in 1984 for his musically profound power-ballad “Purple Rain.”
Prince remained in the spotlight throughout the rest of the decade, and through the 90s. During this time, he amassed dozens of hits but remained intensely private in his personal life. By the 2000’s, Prince was seen as one of the finest guitarists of his generation, and his skills in music production, mixing, and arrangement were unparalleled. Some of Prince’s music came to him in his dreams, and he was known to maintain a “vault” of unheard and unproduced songs that numbered well into the hundreds even in his earlier years. Prince steadily rose to become a quasi-mystical figure in popular culture. In addition to his private nature, part of this mystique comes from the fact that his name has often been represented by an ostentatious, unpronounceable symbol as a result of a contract dispute with Warner Brothers in 1993.
Prince’s 2007 Superbowl halftime show was one of the most well received in the event’s history and helped put him back into the spotlight for the final years of his life. After a career of ingenuity and highly influential music, Prince’s presence will be missed by the music community he revolutionized. Details about his death remain unreleased to the press but are expected to emerge sometime in the week ahead.