Iconoclastic and impossibly original, Prince was literally a symbol for revolution

The music media tends to play fast and loose with the term “legendary” when speaking of artists, but this year has seen the death of several true musical legends; George Martin, David Bowie, and Merle Haggard all left us this year, and each left behind artistic legacies that not only changed the way we think about music, but the way we think about the world. It’s not fair, but early this morning, we lost another: Prince was found dead today at his estate at the age of 57. While he was hospitalized for the flu earlier this week, an official cause of death has yet to be disclosed.

Like Bowie before him, he seemed almost otherworldly as he crashed into the ‘80s rock scene with his sexualized sound.

Small in stature, a musical bonfire burned within Prince — one that his modest size could barely contain. Prince was an unparalleled musical icon. Equal parts musicologist, philosopher, prolific writer, brilliantly talented instrumentalist, and enigmatic rock god of the highest order, there has simply never been a phenomenon like him before. And there never will be again.

Prince emerged into the greater consciousness with such panache and originality, it’s nearly impossible for those on the outside to imagine the man behind the legend. Like Bowie before him, he seemed almost otherworldly as he crashed into the ‘80s rock scene with his sexualized sound, laden with white-hot synthesizers, gut-wrenching guitar, and lyrics that toyed with themes of sex, devotion, and style with a child-like dash of tongue-in-cheek. His performances were the stuff of musical wizardry, including a certain Super Bowl performance in 2007 widely regarded as the greatest ever to grace the grand stage.

In Memoriam: Goodbye, David Bowie, you beautiful, chameleonic rock god

Born to humble origins in Minneapolis, MN, Prince Rogers Nelson grew up in a musical household. His father, John Nelson, was a jazzer and band leader, with his mother on vocals. As reported by Rolling Stone, Prince began his musical career at a young age, a prodigy who taught himself keys at the age of seven, guitar at 13, and drums at 14 — the same year he started the band Grand Central, which later became Champagne.

Prince-in-memoriam_0025

After a demo tape made it to Warner Bros. four years later, the musician put out his first album, For You, in 1978. He found small success with two more albums, including the bizarre concept album Dirty Mind, which had a racy song about fellatio, and another about incest. On each of his first five albums, Prince played every instrument and produced nearly all of his own work from the early ‘80s on. All the while, he was evolving his sexualized stage presence, and his diverse band, the Revolution, which included his friend Andre Cymone on bass, Matt Fink and Lisa Coleman on keys, and Wendy Melvoin on guitar. The Revolution’s sound melded a strange alchemy of pop and hard rock influences, mixed with jazz, dance-pop, and experimental sounds.

Prince’s breakthrough double album 1999 hit the charts in 1982, with top 10 singles Delirious and Little Red Corvette carrying the album to platinum status. According to Rolling Stone, the latter track also became one of the first videos to host a black artist on MTV.

He was unforgettable onstage. He was unmistakably brilliant. He was, and still remains, a legend.

While the Revolution hit the road performing in front of larger and larger audiences, Prince also brought other Minneapolis acts along with him, including The Time and Vanity 6 (with frontwoman Vanity), both of which he was rumored to have produced under the name Jamie Starr, though he denied it.

In 1984, the world was smacked in the face by the absolutely mind-melting musical and stylistic colors of Purple Rain. A film starring Prince and his cohorts, The Time, as well as the newly formed Apollonia 6 (with Patricia “Apollonia” Kotero replacing the group’s original lead) the semi-autobiographical film about the Minneapolis music scene put the town on the musical map, and put Prince on the TV screens and radios of seemingly every young music fan in America. Purple Rain was Prince’s Magnum Opus, staying atop the Billboard 100 for 24 weeks, and charting with multiple singles including two number ones, When Doves Cry and Let’s Go Crazy, a number two hit with Purple Rain, and two others in the top 25.

It’s hard to overestimate the impact of the film/album, which not only changed the Minnesota rock scene forever, but influenced artists across the world. And Prince didn’t stop there. Becoming immensely prolific, he released over 20 studio albums throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. In total, before his untimely death at just 57 years old, Prince had released nearly 40 studio albums.

As much as Prince’s beautifully-alien music changed the lives of its listeners, it’s arguable that it had an even grander effect through its influence on his musical contemporaries. Not only did Prince’s wild mix of musical styles directly affect the music scene at large — especially the bizarre chaos of the ‘80s pop scene — but his band became a springboard for a host of musicians over the years, with multiple stars from R&B, jazz, and pop launching careers from within his bands.

In Memoriam: Country music loses a legendary outlaw: Merle Haggard dead at 79

Of course, Prince was also known for his enigmatic demeanor and odd behavior, amassing pages and pages of stories, from the bizarre change of his name to “the artist formerly known as Prince” (in which he was famously represented only by a symbol), to his knocking on doors in Minneapolis as a devout Jehovah’s Witness. His legend alone evoked its own comedic myth when Dave Chappelle’s brilliant sketch show hosted Charlie Murphy, who told a brilliant story about Prince schooling him at basketball — and then serving him pancakes.

Through it all, Prince remained a beloved and idolized source of musical genius, selling out shows and bringing the house down with his screaming guitar solos, sexualized vocals, and incredible stage presence that mixed sexual ambiguity with sheer masculinity as only Prince could. He was unparalleled in talent. He was unforgettable onstage. He was unmistakably brilliant. He was, and still remains, a legend.

As we have all come to learn – perhaps no more poignantly than in the dark year in music that has been 2016 — the great flames of our musical history cannot burn forever. But this flame went out far too soon. Rest in peace, Prince. We’ll miss you forever.

Cars

All U.S. 2020 Toyotas will have a trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio

This fall, with the introduction of the 2020 model year vehicles, all Toyotas sold in the continental U.S. will include SiriusXM satellite radio installed with a three-month trial subscription of SiriusXM All Access.
Music

The 25 best love songs on Spotify for your wooing pleasure

Valentine's Day comes but once a year, but love is forever. If you're hoping to impress your significant other -- or if you're trying to procure one -- we put together a list of the best love songs for your wooing pleasure.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Gaming

Where to catch the encore of Marshmello's Fortnite concert if you missed it

EDM star DJ Marshmello performed a different sort of concert today: one held live in-game in Fortnite. The concert was held in Pleasant Park, where the usual football field was transformed into a stage and a massive dance party broke out.
Mobile

Schubert left Symphony No. 8 unfinished. A smartphone’s A.I. just completed it

We all know computers can be used to make music, but can artificial intelligence be used to not only generate music, but complete one of the most famous unfinished symphonies of all time? Huawei has used its A.I. to find out.
Music

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.
Music

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Music

The best new music this week: Cass McCombs, Jessica Pratt, and more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week: New music from Cass McCombs, Jessica Pratt, LCD Soundsystem, Panda Bear, Said The Whale, and Y La Bamba.
Music

Spotify could terminate accounts of listeners using ad blockers

Bad news for those who block annoying ads on Spotify -- the company has updated its Terms of Service to explicitly ban ad blockers. Consequences for users found circumventing the rules include suspending or terminating your account.
Home Theater

Apple's new AirPods could arrive within months, pack health sensor tech

Apple may release new AirPods in the first half of 2019. A wireless charging case, health sensors, water resistance, and better Siri integration are some of the improvements rumored to be part of the new package.
Music

Donald Glover is (somehow) first rapper to win a Grammy for Song Of The Year

Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino) has become the first hip-hop artist to win Song Of The Year, an award that had illuded countless other popular rap artists for decades.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.