So it’s true: Prince Rogers Nelson, a musician so superhuman that he was convincingly able to go by a single name even though that name is also a word, was found dead this morning at his studio compound in Minnesota. He was 57 years old, which is young for anyone, but so crushingly young for someone who didn’t seem like they were ever supposed to die.
TMZ broke the news, and while there aren’t many details yet, this comes a week after his chartered flight made an emergency landing for an unspecified medical emergency.
Prince was many things to many people, but he was something to everyone. It’s not just that no one else quite combined his abilities in musicianship, showmanship, and sheer celebrity (at turns he could be freakishly accessible or totally reclusive)—it’s that no one else was doing what he was doing. There wasn’t a genre of music that Prince couldn’t cannibalize, synthesize, and spit back out as a sound unlike anything else. It’s why everyone loved him: if you were into rock, or into jazz, or hip-hop, or psychedelic disco-soul alien pop-funk, you got what Prince was doing, and you liked it.
His work is going to hold up forever because he’s not of any particular era. People always said that he was ahead of his time, but that’s not exactly right: he was a rock star living his life out of time.
Dude put on the only good Super Bowl halftime show ever. Dude covered Michael Jackson and made it better. Dude played every instrument better than just about everybody else. Dude made Minnesota cool.
It’s going to be tough to properly memorialize Prince today—he was so strict about enforcing his copyright that it’s hell to find his videos out there. But do your best, and share your stories, and then take over a jukebox tonight or this weekend, and put on Prince, and make wherever you are a better place.