A musical prodigy who signed his first record deal just after finishing high school, Prince’s first two albums, 1978’s For You and 1979’s Prince, were a slick blend of soft-focus disco-funk and falsetto vocals. But 1980’s Dirty Mind made him an artist to reckon with; its raw, unfiltered quality dazzled rock critics and set the stage for Prince’s dominance of the ‘80s pop scene.
At the end of 1982, he released 1999, which yielded the hit, “Little Red Corvette,” as well as the title track, an ode to partying in a nuclear apocalypse. On Purple Rain, Prince transformed his obsessions about sex, religion and technology into a galvanizing stadium-ready sound.
By the ‘90s, Prince’s commercial impact waned, although he occasionally logged hits like 1992’s “Cream” and 1994’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” But Prince was still widely recognized as one of the most influential musicians alive and could sell out an arena with only a few days’ notice.
On April 21, 2016, Prince, 57, shocked the world when he collapsed from an accidental fentanyl overdose and died moments later. Amidst a worldwide outpouring of grief, government buildings, offices, and bridges were dressed in royal purple lights to honor a man who virtually made the color his own. It was a tribute to a genius whose impact knows no bounds.