Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. With a career spanning four decades, Prince was known for his eclectic work and flamboyant stage appearances. He was also a multi-instrumentalist and regarded as a guitar virtuoso. Prince was also known for his very wide and extensive vocal range, in particular his far reaching falsetto. His innovative music integrated a wide variety of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, new wave, soul, psychedelia, and pop.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Prince developed an interest in music as a young child and wrote his first song, "Funk Machine", at the age of seven. He signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records at the age of 17 and released his debut album For You in 1978. His 1979 album Prince went platinum, and his next three albums—Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and 1999 (1982)—continued his success, prominently showcasing his explicit lyrics as well as blending of funk, dance, and rock music. In 1984, he began referring to his backup band as The Revolution and released Purple Rain, the soundtrack album to his film debut. It quickly became his most critically and commercially successful release, spending 24 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 and selling 25 million copies worldwide. After releasing the albums Around the World in a Day (1985) and Parade (1986), The Revolution disbanded, and Prince released the double album Sign o' the Times (1987) as a solo artist. He released three more solo albums before debuting The New Power Generation band in 1991.
In 1993, in the midst of a contractual dispute with Warner Bros., he changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol (), also known as the "Love Symbol," and began churning out new albums at a faster rate in order to sooner meet a contractually required quota and so release himself from further obligations to the record label. He released five records between 1994 and 1996 before he signed with Arista Records in 1998. In 2000, he began referring to himself as "Prince" again. He released 16 albums after that, including the platinum-selling Musicology (2004). His final album, Hit n Run Phase Two, was first released on the Tidal streaming service in 2015. Four months later, at the age of 57, Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park home and recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Prince pioneered the late 1970s Minneapolis sound, a funk rock subgenre drawing from synth-pop and new wave. He sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, seven Brit Awards, six American Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, an Academy Award (for Best Original Song Score for the 1984 film Purple Rain) and a Golden Globe Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and 2016 respectively. Rolling Stone ranked Prince at No. 27 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.