Prince, one of the best-selling pop artists of all time and a musical genius whose genre-bending work was a major influence on generations of performers, died Thursday, April 21, at his home in Chanhassen, Minn. He was 57.
The Purple One’s death was confirmed by his publicist Yvette Noel-Schure. No details were immediately released.
The singer-songwriter and producer was hospitalized last week with the flu, according to his representatives, after his private plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Moline, Ill. on Friday, April 15, while flying back from a concert date on his Piano and a Microphone tour in Atlanta.
Police who responded to reports of a fatality at Prince’s Paisley Park estate say they are investigating his death.
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis on June 7, 1958. His father, John Lewis Nelson, was a pianist and songwriter who’s stage name was Prince Rogers; and his mother, Mattie Della was a jazz singer. Prince reportedly suffered from epilepsy as a child.
He released his first album, 1978’s “For You,” when he was 19 years old.
He sold more than 100 million albums over the course of his 35-year-plus career, tearing down barriers between funk, rock and R&B along the way.
Prince became a crossover act with his 1983 release, “1999,” which included the title track and “Little Red Corvette.” But it was 1984’s “Purple Rain” that made him a household name, placing him in the same stratosphere as musical giants of the time such as Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. It included the songs “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”
He won seven Grammy Awards, earned 30 nominations and won an Oscar for the original song score of his film “Purple Rain,” which grossed $7.7 million in its opening weekend and topped “Ghostbusters.”
Prince released more than three dozen albums and scored nearly 20 songs that hit the Top 10.
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.”
Prince headlined the halftime show at Super Bowl XLI in 2007, shortly before playing 21 nights at the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena in London.
Earlier this year, Prince performed a handful of sold-out concerts in Oakland.
During his two sets at the Paramount Theatre on Feb. 28, one of which was attended by Draymond Green, Prince repeatedly praised Warriors wunderkind Steph Curry while reworking classic hits like “Purple Rain,” “Controversy” and “Pop Life” in a solo, intimate setting.
He also made a courtside appearance at the Golden State Warriors’ home game on March 3, the night before his sold-out concert at Oracle Arena, in which the team had a 121-106 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It is believed Prince was in the Bay Area to attend the funeral of Vanity, real name Denise Katrina Matthews, the lead singer of 1980s girl group Vanity 6 and a former flame. She passed away in February, also at age 57, after battling kidney failure and an abdominal illness.
There was an outpouring of emotion from celebrity fans on Twitter and other social media channels by Thursday afternoon.
Justin Timberlake tweeted, “Numb. Stunned. This can’t be real.”
Director Spike Lee said, “I miss my brother. Prince was a funny cat. Great sense of humor.”
Ellen DeGeneres chimed in, “Prince was brilliant and larger than life. What a sad day.”
Prince’s death is latest blow for music fans in a year that has also seen the loss of David Bowie,Merle Haggard, Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, Glenn Frey of the Eagles, Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane, Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire and several others.
Aidin Vaziri is the San Francisco Chronicle’s pop music critic. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @MusicSF