Arts & Entertainment

Pop superstar Prince dies at his Minnesota home at 57

Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like "Purple Rain" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday in suburban Minneapolis, his publicist said. File photo: Prince is seen on stage at the 36th NAACP Image Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on March 19, 2005 in Los Angeles, California.
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Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
US singer and musician Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) performs on stage at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on June 30, 2011.
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Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
US singer Prince performs on October 11, 2009 at the Grand Palais in Paris. Prince has decided to give two extra concerts at the Grand Palais titled "All Day/All Night" after he discovered the exhibition hall during Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel fashion show.
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
US singer Prince performs on October 11, 2009 at the Grand Palais in Paris. Prince has decided to give two extra concerts at the Grand Palais titled "All Day/All Night" after he discovered the exhibition hall during Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel fashion show.
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
Prince performs at the 10th Anniversary Essence Music Festival at the Superdome on July 2, 2004 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
Singer Mary J. Blige and recording artist Prince perform onstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 22, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
Recording artist Prince performs with singer Mary J. Blige onstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 22, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
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Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
Recording artist Prince performs during the 2013 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 19, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Prince, the pop music superstar behind hits like
Musician Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
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Pop superstar Prince, known for hits like "Purple Rain" and "When Doves Cry" and widely considered one of the most inventive musicians of all time, was found dead at his home on Thursday in suburban Minneapolis.

“It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary iconic performer, Prince, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57," his publicist Yvette Noel-Schure said in a statement.

Prince was reported to have made an emergency landing in Illinois early Friday because of the flu, but he appeared the next day at Paisley Park, where he has his recording studios.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune noted that he invited people over to Paisley in what was billed as a dance party Saturday, putting in a five-minute appearance shortly after midnight just to show he was alive and well.

KPCC's AirTalk listeners shared what Prince meant to them:

On Thursday, fans and journalists were gathered outside of Paisley Park soon after word that someone had died at his home.

Minnesota sheriff's officials say deputies found Prince unresponsive in an elevator at his compound, according to the Associated Press. Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said that first responders tried CPR but couldn't revive Prince. He was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. local time on Thursday, which was about half an hour after deputies arrived.

Authorities have yet to release a cause of death, according to the AP. Sheriff's officials say it's too early to say whether foul play was involved.

Sheriff's Deputy Jason Kamerud says he's not sure how long it will take to process the scene due to the size of Prince's compound, according to the AP. He says the medical examiner typically takes a few days for preliminary findings, while toxicology results usually take weeks. The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office said it had no information on the death.

The Los Angeles City Hall was scheduled to be lit purple in Prince's memory on Thursday night, starting at about 10 p.m., according to a press release from the mayor's office.

Minnesota Public Radio music reporter Andrea Swensson, who has covered Prince for about 10 years, described the scene outside Paisley Park to KPCC's "Take Two."

"The fans that show up here are shrieking sobs of grief. He meant so much to people here,” Swensson said.

“It wasn’t just the music — the music was funky and soulful as a lot of music was in 1979 and 1980 — but it was the persona. It was androgyny, it was sexuality. Here was a guy with sexual lyrics. It was new,” Morgan Rhodes, an L.A.-based music supervisor, told Take Two.

A number of fans recalled a concert early in Prince's career in which he opened for the Rolling Stones at the L.A. Coliseum. Members of the audience reportedly threw bottles at the young musician and booed him off stage.

President Barack Obama released a statement on Prince's death:

Today, the world lost a creative icon. Michelle and I join millions of fans from around the world in mourning the sudden death of Prince. Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.

“A strong spirit transcends rules,” Prince once said — and nobody's spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him.

The Recording Academy put out the following statement responding to news of Prince's death:

Our GRAMMY® family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of seven-time GRAMMY Award winner Prince. Today, we remember and celebrate him as one of the most uniquely gifted artists of all time. Never one to conform, he redefined and forever changed our musical landscape. Prince was an original who influenced so many, and his legacy will live on forever. We have lost a true innovator and our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends, collaborators, and all who have been impacted by his incredible work.

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Here's more on the music icon from the Associated Press:

The man born Prince Rogers Nelson stood just 5 feet, 2 inches and seemed to summon the most original and compelling sounds at will, whether playing guitar in a flamboyant style that openly drew upon Jimi Hendrix, switching his vocals from a nasally scream to an erotic falsetto or turning out album after album of stunningly original material. Among his other notable releases: "Sign O' the Times," "Graffiti Bridge" and "The Black Album."

He was also fiercely protective of his independence, battling his record company over control of his material and even his name. Prince once wrote "slave" on his face in protest of not owning his work and famously battled and then departed his label, Warner Bros., before returning a few years ago.

And here's more background on his career from NPR:

Prince was just 19 years old when he released his first album, putting out "For You" in 1978. In the decades that followed, he went on to develop a unique sound and style that endeared him to generations of audiences — all while exploring new ground as an artist.

His fifth album, "1999," exploded onto America's music scene. Released in 1983, it included hits like "Little Red Corvette" and "1999." It also set the stage for "Purple Rain," the 1984 soundtrack album packed with songs such as "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" that became fixtures on the radio and established Prince as a pop culture icon.

As Swensson wrote for MPR about Purple Rain for the film's 30th anniversary in 2014, "it grossed $7.7 million in its opening weekend, beating out 'Ghostbusters' — and racked up comparisons to movies like the Beatles' 'Hard Day's Night' and 'Citizen Kane' in glowing reviews from major media outlets."

Prince also won two Grammys and an Oscar (for Original Song Score) for Purple Rain. In 2007, he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, for "The Song of the Heart" from "Happy Feet."

From 1985 to 2007, Prince won seven Grammy awards — most recently for "Future Baby Mama."

Tune in to Take Two, AirTalk and The Frame for more coverage later today. The Current is playing wall-to-wall Prince. You can listen live here.

What are your memories of Prince? Leave a comment below.

This story has been updated.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Andrea Swensson's name. KPCC regrets the error.