Illustration by Jason Horning Printed in Sweat Equity Magazine
There is no shortage of adjectives describing late pop icon Prince Rogers Nelson. Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actor, and film director are just a few of the titles he owned. Prince’s musical talent spread widely to encompass the funk, pop, R&B, psychedelic rock, new wave, and rock genres, and nearly every instrument under the sun, including guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard and, of course, vocals.
When Prince made a film debut in Purple Rain in 1984 and his soundtrack album of the same title sold over 13 million copies in the U.S., he skyrocketed to stardom, enjoying 24 consecutive weeks at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 and receiving an Academy Award for the song. He went on to win seven Grammy Awards and a Golden Globe and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He gained recognition as one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s Greatest Artists of All Time.
Musical genius, pop figure, and musician extraordinaire are just some of what we know about the fifty-seven-year-old “Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” But he was just as famous for his flamboyant stage presence and transgendered symbolism. In a contractual dispute with his label, Prince assumed a name that fused the male and female astrological signs. He was a fashion icon of his time who challenged assumptions of sex and identity in a way that people came to love and expect from him.
Prince’s passion extended well beyond recording studio walls. He was an animal activist and vegan, a low-profile environmentalist, and a socialist. He donated to charities and non-profit organizations anonymously, the details of his generosity and philanthropy made public only after his death. Humble anonymity touched his music, as well: not many of us knew he was the artist behind one of the best love ballads ever written (and performed by Sinead O’Connor).
Thank you, Prince, for your boundless creativity and ingenuity. You influenced the world of pop culture as we know it, opened the doors to creative expression, and took strides so wide that few could ever follow in your footsteps.
Let it be said in your very own words: Nothing Compares to You.