The worst possible news greeted people this morning: Prince is dead. He was only 57.
To call Prince Rogers Nelson a music icon isn’t enough. The multi-instrumental vocalist and songwriter singlehandedly revolutionized the face of music at the height of the mindless cotton candy of the 1980s. He could play guitar like Jimi Hendrix risen from the dead (“Let’s Go Crazy”). He could rap and riff better than any R&B urban street hustler (“Kiss”). And, he could bring together people from all walks of life, races, and creeds with universally embraced, impossibly melodic anthems from the first airplay (“I Would Die 4 U,” “1999,” “Purple Rain,” “Little Red Corvette”).
It didn’t matter what he sang about — sex, conscience, love, the end of the world — Prince did it with an incredible sense of humanity, and a wink and a nod to our guilty pleasures. He made us all feel as if we were in this thing called life together.
A few days ago, it was all over Twitter that Prince had to be escorted off a plane due to flu-like symptoms. Now, he’s gone. According to the latest reports, authorities found his unresponsive body in the elevator of his Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minn. this morning.
CNN reporters Ashley Fantz, Lisa Respers France, and Catherine E. Shoichet put together an update later: “Paramedics tried to perform CPR but were unable to revive him, the sheriff said. He was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m., less than 30 minutes after sheriff’s deputies responded to a medical call at the scene.”
It didn’t take long for the outpouring to come.
Jazz trumpeter Sean Jones tweeted, “‘Until the end of time… I’ll be there for you!’ R.I.P. Fellow Gemini, Prince!”
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, “I am so saddened to hear of Prince’s passing. Prince was a revolutionary artist, a wonderful musician and composer.”
L.A. Times film editor Baenardin: “What Bowie was for white kids who didn’t fit in, Prince was for black kids. A beacon in mascara who made it okay to stand up and stand out.”
John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s son, Sean: “I got to see Prince at MSG when Purple Rain came out. Sheila E. was opening. I learned a lot about sex and music that day.”
Jazz-fusion saxophonist Thomas Hutchings: “Purple Rain was the 1st album I ever owned. Don’t know what to do, the shock & sadness is overwhelming. It’s so heavy. O(+> #LoveSymbolNo2”
SFJAZZ: “‘He could very well be the #DukeEllington of our times.’ #MilesDavis on #Prince #RIP”
Seattle alternative weekly, The Stranger, tweeted about two free screenings of Prince’s 1984, semi-autobiographical movie, “Purple Rain,” showing at the EMP Museum 6 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. tomorrow. The 6 p.m. screening is open to everyone, the 9:15 p.m. is for those 21 and over. RSVP at EMPmuseum.org first.
Artists who’ve passed usually see a spike in the downloading and streaming of their music. Prince fans will honor their hero by walking to record stores all over the world to buy his music in person. It’s what he would’ve wanted.