Minnesota music legend Prince dead at 57

  • 22 Apr, 2016
  • Perreaux

Prince, the Minnesota-born international pop icon whose sound revolutionized music and put the Minneapolis scene on the map, is dead.

Carver County authorities this afternoon said deputies responded at about 9:43 a.m. to reports of a medical emergency at Prince's Paisley Park studios in Chanhassen.

Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator in the studios. First responders used CPR but were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. An investigation is underway.

"Today, the world lost a creative icon," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer."

A member of the Carver County Sheriff's department leaves Paisley Park Thursday after it was announced that Prince had died. Nate Ryan | MPR

 Prince, 57, was reportedly treated last week for dehydration in Illinois after an unscheduled stop of a plane he was on while returning from a performance in Georgia.

On Saturday night at Paisley Park, Prince threw a dance party and made a brief appearance to assure people he was fine.

"Wait a few days before you waste any prayers," he told revelers.

Widely considered a pop music pioneer, Prince is credited for creating what became known as the Minneapolis Sound. It's a mix of rock, electronic music, funk and more.

"Prince's genius seemed to arrive fully formed, almost as if by magic," wrote Jay Gabler, a digital producer with MPR's sister station, The Current.

Fans pay tribute to Prince outside Paisley Park Thursday. Nate Ryan | MPR

"He released his debut album at the age of 19, and its eponymous follow-up, released the following year, made him a breakout success with instant classics like "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and "I Feel For You."

His 1984 album "Purple Rain" and the movie that followed transformed Prince from cult icon to superstar.

"He rewrote the rulebook, forging a synthesis of black funk and white rock that served as a blueprint for cutting-edge music" in the 1980s, according to theNational Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Prince made dance music that rocked and rock music that had a bristling, funky backbone."

Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, Prince was the product of a broken home who found refuge in music, his Hall of Fame biography noted. "By his early teens, he'd mastered multiple instruments ... A demo tape by the young prodigy resulted in major-label interest, and an 18-year-old Prince signed to Warner Bros., insisting on the right to self-produce."Sherry Staat, a longtime Prince fan from Eden Prairie, said she drives past Paisley Park every day. Her grandson texted her the news of Prince's death from high school, so she came to Paisley Park Thursday. Nate Ryan | MPR

Known for fiercely protecting his privacy, Prince recently showed signs of shedding his reclusive reputation. He hosted several late-night jam sessions where he serenaded Madonna, celebrated the Minnesota Lynx's WNBA championship and showcased his latest protege, singer Judith Hill.

On stage in New York City last month, he told fans that he was writing his memoir. "The Beautiful Ones'' was expected to be released in the fall of 2017 by publishing house Spiegel & Grau.

Over the years, the R&B band Mint Condition opened several times for Prince all over the world. Keyboardist Lawrence Waddell said Prince was beautifully quirky — and spontaneous.

"He comes up to us and he says, 'Can I play on a song?' We're like, 'OK — what? Of course,' Waddell recalled. "No rehearsal or anything, he just comes up on stage and says, 'Tell me when you want to start playing.' And he just kills it."

No matter what instrument Prince would grab — guitar, bass, drums or piano — Prince's energy spilled out, Waddell said.

"The instrument was a conduit," Waddell said. "The music was really in him."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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