Trailblazing, captivating, otherworldly.
The tributes to Prince, simply one of the greatest pop songwriters, musicians, producers and performers of all time, have flooded in since his shock death, aged 57, yesterday.
“Today, the world lost a creative icon,” wrote US President Barack Obama in an official White House missive.
“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.
Added Obama: “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.”
“Prince did it all. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader and an electrifying performer.”
President Barack Obama
These words were echoed by Warner Bros Records, with whom Prince had a long-standing and creatively fruitful – yet sometimes tempestuous – relationship.
After signing to Warner Bros in 1977, Prince released the most acclaimed albums of his career, including Purple Rain, Sign O The Times, 1999 and Diamonds & Pearls.
According to Nielsen, Purple Rain – with 3.1m sales – and Diamonds & Pearls – with 2.47m sales – are the biggest-selling Prince albums of the Soundscan era in the US.
Yet in 1996, Prince completed an acrimonious departure from Warner Bros, having famously written ‘slave’ on his cheek in public as he tried to extricate himself from his deal.
In 2014, the star won ownership of his historic masters catalogue from the WMG-owned label, but tellingly then chose to license them back to Warner Bros.
Cameron Strang, Warner Bros CEO & Chairman and the exec who negotiated Prince’s catalogue re-license, said: “Today, we lost one of the most revolutionary talents of our time. Prince’s untimely passing is deeply shocking, reminding us that unique artists who chart their own course and move culture are precious few and irreplaceable.
“He leapt onto the scene in 1978 and it didn’t take the world long to realize that pop music had changed forever. He played the studio like an instrument and shattered the definition of live performance. He defined a new kind of superstardom, with a transformative impact not just on music, but on video, film, and style.
“He played the studio like an instrument and shattered the definition of live performance.”
Cameron Strang, Warner Bros
“Prince was the epitome of cool and mystery – an inspirational soul who created his own universe by bringing together different genres, races and cultures with a purity of sound and spirit unlike any other. His visionary gifts as a songwriter, vocalist, musician, performer and producer placed him in a league all his own.
“We are honored to have had Prince as a member of the Warner Bros. Records family during two eras of his astonishing career. We express our deepest condolences to everyone who loved him and join his family, friends and legion of fans in mourning his loss.”
Clive Davis, who released Prince’s late ’90s album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic on Artista Records, said on Instagram: “Prince was peerless as a musician, performer and songwriter. He was clearly one of the all-time greats, always mesmerizing, magical and cutting edge.
“He was one-of-a-kind in every respect. To know Prince personally was to know someone kind and gentle, phenomenally brilliant and intellectually curious, with every bone in his body loving music. The world of music has tragically lost one of its greatest defining members.”
Madonna posted an image of the pair in matching yellow jackets to Instagram, saying: “He Changed The World!! A True Visionary. What a loss. I’m Devastated… This is Not A Love Song.”
Sir Elton John said: “This is truly devastating news. The greatest performer I have ever seen. A true genius. Musically way ahead of any of us. Sang with him twice on stage. What an honour. Rest in peace you purple warrior. ”
“God Bless this creative giant.”
SIR Paul McCartney
Sony Music Entertainment said in a statement, “Prince was a revolutionary and an iconic artist. He boldly transcended every conceivable boundary of genre and expectation to make music that uniquely was his own and ranks among the greatest of his generation — or any other. This is a tremendous loss for lovers of music everywhere. The Sony Music family joins the world in mourning his passing.”
Canadian superstar The Weeknd tweeted an image of him meeting Prince, commenting: “I promise this was the greatest moment of my entire life. I wish i could relive it everyday.”
Katy Perry commented: “And just like that…the world lost a lot of magic. Rest in peace Prince! Thanks for giving us so much.”
Sir Paul McCartney tweeted: “God bless this creative giant. Thanks Prince.”
And Brian Wilson said: “I’m shocked to hear that Prince passed at such a young age. Musically, he could do it all: sing, play, arrange and produce. Love & Mercy.”
Michele Anthony, EVP, Universal Music Group, said: “I’m deeply saddened that we have lost one of our generation’s most special artists. Over the past 24 years, I have been honored to work with Prince in a number of roles and I can say without question that he was the most brilliantly gifted musician, performer, songwriter and producer.
“The level of perfectionism and meticulousness that he brought to each of his many disciplines was unlike anything I have ever seen – and I doubt very much that I will ever see again. He will be deeply missed by fans and artists alike.”
Justin Timberlake wrote a heartfelt essay on Instagram, commenting: “It was Raspberry Beret. I was 4 years old. Yes, 4. I remember that I instantly loved it. “Mommy, who is that singing?” Seems weird but it’s true.
“More than a “once in a lifetime” artist… Just a ONCE IN FOREVER ARTIST. I’m still in shock as I write this and I feel this overwhelming grief. But, we should all turn away from that and HONOR this musician that changed all of our lives, our perspectives, our feeling, our whole being. From another planet? Probably. Royalty, for sure. Us worthy..? Laughable.
“The Greatest performer I have ever seen.”
Sir Elton John
“They say don’t meet your idols… That they let you down. But, some of my greatest, funniest (yes, he was hilarious), and most prolific encounters and conversations about music came from the moments that I spent with him. It would be silly to say that he has inspired our music… It’s beyond that. He’s somewhere within every song I’ve ever written.
“I am sad, but I will smile when I think of every second that I had the fortune of being in his company. We have lost our greatest living musician. But his music will never die. Prince, NOTHING COMPARES… #RIPPrince.”
Another substantial tribute came from Frank Ocean, who wrote on Tumblr: “I’m not even gonna say rest in peace because it’s bigger than death. I never met the man (I was too nervous the one time I saw him) and I never saw him play live, regrettably. I only know the legends I’ve heard from folks and what I’ve heard and seen from his deep catalog of propellant, fearless, virtuosic work.
“He moved me to be more daring and intuitive with my own work by his demonstration.”
“My assessment is that he learned early on how little value to assign to someone else’s opinion of you… an infectious sentiment that seemed soaked into his clothes, his hair, his walk, his guitar and his primal scream. He wrote my favorite song of all time, ‘When You Were Mine’.
“It’s a simple song with a simple melody that makes you wish you thought of it first, even though you never would have – a flirtatious brand of genius that feels approachable.”
Added Ocean: “He was a straight black man who played his first televised set in bikini bottoms and knee high heeled boots, epic.
“He made me feel more comfortable with how I identify sexually simply by his display of freedom from and irreverence for obviously archaic ideas like gender conformity etc.
“He moved me to be more daring and intuitive with my own work by his demonstration – his denial of the prevailing model… his fight for his intellectual property – ‘slave’ written across the forehead, name changed to a symbol… an all out rebellion against exploitation.
“A vanguard and genius by every metric I know of who affected many in a way that will outrun oblivion for a long while. I’m proud to be a Prince fan(stan) for life.”
Carole King said: “I will miss a good friend who was so talented. He was such a great performer / guitar player. Sleep well Prince.”
A modern act obviously steeped in Prince’s influence, Disclosure, commented: “Every interview we have ever done, they always ask us, ‘who is the one person you have always wanted to work with?’ Today, we lost him. Absolutely devastated! Thank you for everything Prince – Nothing will ever compare to you.”
Questlove, meanwhile, summed things up, simply tweeting: “Long Live The King.”Music Business Worldwide