The world lost another music legend in 2016 when the news broke that Prince Rogers Nelson, better known simply as Prince, died at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park residence in suburban Minnesota studio. The shocking news instantly made waves across the music world, with dozens of stars making statements online. While celebrity reaction to celebrity deaths often feel obligatory, or worse, an opportunity to advance one’s own brand, this passing elicited emotional sincerity from so many.
Gene Ween (of Ween) posted a colorful drawing of what looks like Prince standing on the moon’s surface, next to a couple of roses growing out of the lunar surface.
— Gene Ween (@GeneWeen) April 20, 2016
Geoff Barrow of Portishead and BEAK> added: “Christ… What a terrible year for music,” referring to the losses of so many massively important musicians in 2016. He went on to add: “Show respect by not having tribute concerts.” “If you’re a group of professional musicians and you want [to] remember prince by playing his music hire a rehearsal room and a 6 pack.” “If you’re a group of unprofessional musicians who want to remember Prince hire a huge venue and play your fucking heart out…”
Evanescence lead singer and solo artist Amy Lee shared her condolences and spoke to the influence that Prince’s music and overall attitude had on that generation: “Just another heartbroken person over the loss of Prince. I can’t believe it. He was a genius and an inspiration and a BADASS…and so young. ”
— Devin Townsend (@dvntownsend) April 21, 2016
Questlove, of Roots fame and a true music head, has long been known as a Prince fanatic. The news had barely broken, when Questlove hit Twitter at 10:06 a.m. to confess his raw emotion: “Long Live the King,” he shared, before following up in the same minute with, “I can’t fucking breathe right now.”
Neko Case shared in the global disbelief, posting several times in reaction: “What?! NO!!!!! Not Prince!!!!,” before expressing insightful gratitude that Prince was an artist who hired “KILLER lady musicians when no one else would.” She added “Prince also worked with gay musicians at a time when people were WAY publicly shitty about that. I can can’t think of an artist who was.” She would go on to cite, as many have, the similarity in cultural impact that Prince and the recently-departed David Bowie shared, before returning to praise Prince for valuing women, and “(s)how(ing) men it was cool to SHOW feelings. HUGE.”
“All of my heroes are dying.” – Phantograms
“Damn RIP to a true legend. The world won’t be the same without Prince’s crazy ass.” – Flying Lotus
“The world lost another treasure. A huge inspiration for us musicians trying to express our truths. RIP, brother.” – Alabama Shakes
— Lorde (@lorde) April 21, 2016
Prince clearly crossed, mixed, and ultimately decimated genres in his own work. When asked by Larry King in 1999 to describe his own music, he answered simply: “Inspirational.” His influence has been recognized throughout the day by artists from many genres.
The rock set saw Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello praise Prince for the many hats he wore as “(o)ne of the greatest, most gifted and unique musicians, performers and producers ever.”
“One of the greatest musical talents of my lifetime. Maybe of the 20th century. RIP.” – Slash
“I wore my my Purple Rain shirt as my cousin and I wore out the cassette, singing along in her room. I’d never seen anyone like Prince. And we never shall. He was unparalleled.” – Davey Havok of AFI and Blaqk Audio
“From one 6/7 to another 6/7… Rest in peace, Prince!” – Dave Navarro, in reference to the fact that he shares a birthday with Prince.
“The old gods have left & the new gods have not yet arrived.” – Yannis Philippakis of UK band Foals, humbly (and wisely) admitting that few can ever match the majesty of Prince.
“PRINCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Celebrate you forever” – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
“Seeing Prince play was like witnessing God’s love.” – Spoon
“Thanks for filling the world with mystery and wonder. And keeping it so damn funky! Won’t ever be another #RIPPRINCE” – Foster the People
— Garbage (@garbage) April 21, 2016
Even Jack White’s Third Man Records sent out a dispatch: “We will miss you so deeply,” accompanied by a more recent black and white photograph of Prince.
It is hard to believe that Quincy Jones, age 83, is active on Twitter. Harder to believe is that he has outlived his colleague Michael Jackson, and now Prince: “RIP to @prince…a true artist in every sense of the word. Gone way too soon.”
(Contributions from Chris Pennino, Timothy White, Kyle Smith and Matt Matasci)