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Prince, Exotic Visionary, Dies at 57

His blend of rock and funk helped drive the soundtrack of the 1980s

Prince

Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty Images

Prince performing at the Ritz Club on his Purple Rain Tour.

He stood just a shade over 5 feet tall and was so eccentric that for a time he used an unpronounceable symbol in lieu of a name. All the same, Prince, who died April 21 at age 57 in suburban Minneapolis, was a genuine giant of pop music, an innovative superstar who fused disparate musical genres — new wave, funk, soul and psychedelic rock, to name a few — into an exotic, danceable mélange. His songs, such as “1999,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry,” drove the soundtrack of the 1980s.

Here are some facts you may not know about Prince.

  • His full name, Prince Rogers Nelson, was derived from his pianist-songwriter father John Lewis Nelson’s stage name, Prince Rogers.
  • His nickname as a child was Skipper.
  • He played on the junior varsity basketball team at Central High School in Minneapolis.
  • He was among the first African American performers to have his videos played on MTV in the 1980s.
  • As a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses denomination, he sometimes went door-to-door to proselytize.
  • He disliked cellphones and avoided using them.
  • In addition to writing the song “When Doves Cry,” he kept doves as pets.
  • He appeared in a 2014 episode of the sitcom New Girl, in which he performed a falsetto duet with Zooey Deschanel.
  • He wrote the song “I Feel for You,” which became a hit for Chaka Khan, and “Manic Monday” for the Bangles.

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