The singer, songwriter, arranger and instrumentalist was widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive musicians of his era.
Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958 to Mattie Della and John Lewis Nelson in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father was a pianist and songwriter and his mother was a jazz singer. He is named for his father who went by the stage name Prince Rogers.
Encouraged by his father, Prince wrote his first song "Funk Machine" at age 7. His love of music grew as he got older and he joined his cousin's band called Grand Central in high school. The band changed their name to Champagne and Prince began playing orignal music across clubs in the Minneapolis area.
At age 17, Prince signed with manager Owen Husney who helped him create a demo at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis. He quickly caught the attention of many big record companies but ended up signing with Warner Bros. He moved to California and recorded his first album "For You" which was released in 1978.
Prince's 1984 "Purple Rain" album sold more than 13 million copies in the United States and spent 24 consecutive weeks at No.1 on the Billboard charts. Notable tunes from the album include "Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry." Two years later in 1986, Prince disbanded his band that he called The Revolution at the time.
Prince released his first solo album called "Sign o' the Times' in 1987. The record didn't sell as well as his previous efforts but Prince's stardom continued to rise. He released several more albums and produced countless hits like "Diamonds and Pearls," U Got the Look" and "Cream."
He was also fiercely protective of his independence, battling his record company over control of his material and even his name. Prince once wrote "slave" on his face in protest of not owning his work and famously battled and then departed his label, Warner Bros., before returning a few years ago. In 1993, he changed his name to what became called "The Love Symbol" and went by "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince."
In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame, which hailed him as a musical and social trailblazer.
A look back at the life of Prince.