Prince, 1958–2016, American singer and songwriter, b. Minneapolis, Minn., as Prince Rogers Nelson. Biracial, slim, and sexily androgynous, he was an electrifying performer who composed hundreds of songs in a blend of funk with rhythm-and-blues, rock, and pop music, often with sexualized lyrics. He also was an instrumental virtuoso who played the guitar, keyboards, and drums among others, and was a record producer and an arranger as well. Among his Top 10 hits were the breakout
Little Red Corvette(1983) and the title song,
Let's Go Crazy,and
When Doves Cryfrom the semiautobiographical film Purple Rain (1984; Academy Award, best original song score), in which he starred. Other hits include
Raspberry Beret(1985) and
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World(1994). One of the world's best-selling artists and a seven-time Grammy winner, he released 39 albums including Purple Rain (1984), Sign "O" the Times (1987), Dirty Mind (1999), The Rainbow Children (2001), and HITnRUN Phase Two (2015), his last. In the 1990s when a dispute with his record company led him to change his name to a symbol he became known as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. His later career was largely sustained by his popular concerts. Prince, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, died of a drug overdose.
See study by B. Greenman (2017).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Music: Popular and Jazz: Biographies