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Prince (real name Prince Rodgers Nelson, June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016), was an American pop musician. Well-known for his mix of soul, r&b, and funk, Prince was admired worldwide for his forthright sexuality and musical innovation.
Prince was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7th, 1958 and began his recording career in 1978. In 1979 he released the self-titled album Prince, on which he played all the instruments and which went platinum on the success of two singles: "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover."
He released records every year between 1979 and 1992, including the worldwide super-hits 1999 (1982), Purple Rain (1984, with its accompanying feature-length film), and Lovesexy. He formed, and then disbanded, a backing band called The Revolution, and played many sold out world tours both as Prince and the Revolution and just as Prince.
In 1993, after changing his name to the unpronounceable symbol Ƭ̵̬̊. which was a combination of the symbols for male and female, Prince continued to record about one album per year through the '00s. He changed his name back to Prince in 2007. After a three year-break in recording, Prince returned in 2014 to release four more records before his death in 2016. His last release was the two-part series HITnRUN Phase One and HITnRUN Phase Two, both of which were released exclusively through Tidal.
In addition, Prince was a prolific songwriter, and he wrote songs for many other musical acts during this time, including Madonna, the Bangles, and Sinead O'Connor, who's hit "Nothing Compares 2 U," was also performed by the artist. Prince was also well-known for his fashion choices, which were often sexually provocative and usually featured the color purple. Prince has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time; in addition he has won seven Grammy Awards, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
On April 15th, 2016, TMZ  reported that Prince had been aboard an aircraft that had made an emergency landing, after which the musician was rushed to the hospital. The next day, the musician appeared at a concert near his home in Minneapolis, and told his fans that it was just a case of the flu. On April 21st, TMZ again reported that there was a death investigation underway at Paisley Park, Prince's residence outside of Minneapolis; a half an hour later, they confirmed that the death being investigated was that of Prince. The story was later confirmed by Prince's publicist to the Associated Press.
The outpouring of sadness online was instantaneous and huge; by 5pm on the 21st, there were almost 5 million tweets using the word "Prince." On Prince's official Twitter account, the profile picture was swapped out from an illustration of him wearing his customary "third eye" sunglasses to an image of him with his two eyes closed and his third eye open (below left). Several other fan-made images, including one recasting Prince as the Little Prince also circulated in mourning (below right).
Today, the world lost a creative icon. Michelle and I join millions of fans from around the world in mourning the sudden death of Prince. Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.
“A strong spirit transcends rules,” Prince once said -- and nobody's spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him.
In the days following Prince's death, tributes to his life and legacy appeared internationally, most of which featured the color purple. Many brands and businesses created tributes, some of which, like those from Cheerios, and Hamburger Helper in the top row below, were later deleted. Others, like the Google Doodle Purple Rain animation and the Minnesota Twins' tribute at their stadium, below, were less misguided, and many online were happy to see them. In addition, several other offline tributes, like the New York Post predicting that the weather for Friday, April 22nd would be "Purple Rain," were retweeted widely.
Other tributes appeared online, from celebrities and others. NASA tweeted a photo of a purple nebula. In one particularly bizarre example, boxer Mike Tyson photoshopped his own face onto Prince's body and tweeted the photo; he called this a "Super Tribute."
"This Could Be Us"
On June 23rd, 2014, Minneapolis Star Tribune published an article about Prince's 37th solo album Art Official Age, which featured a quote from the artist saying that one of the tracks in the album, titled "This Could Be Us" was inspired by an instance of the eponymous image macro meme parodying a still shot of him and Apollonia Kotero riding on a motorcycle from the 1984 film Purple Rain (shown below).
On October 22nd, 2015, Prince launched his official Instagram account using his stage name as the handle. Dubbed the "Princestagram," the account swiftly began posting a colorful variety of the artist's photographs from different eras of his decades-long career, as well as a selection of image macros featuring his image. Within the first five days of the account creation, Princestagram garnered more than 100,000 followers. At the time of his death in April 2016, the account had nearly 270,000 followers.
Prince was well known for enforcing his rights to his music through DMCA takedown notices and other measures. In 2007, Prince filed a series of lawsuits against YouTube, Google, and eBay alleging that the sites did nothing to help him enforce his copyright. In 2014, he sued 22 separate Facebook users accused of bootlegging his work for $1 million dollars each; this lawsuit was later dismissed. In addition, the most recent ruling to affect the fair use of copyright-protected work online, Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. was for a lawsuit over the use of a Prince song in the background of a family video; the court ruled that the song was played in fair use and that the DMCA takedown notice was overzealous. In an even more unusual move, his agents also issued takedown notices for many images on fansites, causing his fans to start an organization called "Prince Fans United," which asked the artist to allow them to continue to use his likeness on their fansites.
In addition, Prince did not allow any services to stream his music, with the exception of his later albums, which were released via Tidal, however his music was made available via iTunes. To assist people wanting to listen to his music on the day of his death, several streaming radio stations devoted their entire day to streaming his catalog, including KEXP and Minneapolis' own. 89.3 The Current.
On July 5th, 2010, Prince drew the attention of the social media after pronouncing the Internet "dead" during an interview with the British newspaper The Mirror. In discussing his decision not to release his 27th studio album 20TEN through any digital media outlets, as well as shutting down his website and other official presences on the Internet, Prince was quoted as saying:
"The internet's completely over. I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won't pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can't get it. […] The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. [….] They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."
 Star Tribune – Prince stirs another controversy with $22 million lawsuit
 Associated Press – Publicist: Pop superstar Prince dies at his Minnesota home