Prince’s death aged just 57 sent shockwaves across the music world. Tributes to the legend poured in from musicians across the world since the news broke yesterday (April 21). Ever since his career began in 1978, he has left an indelible mark on the world of music, a pioneer that challenged his label by changing his name to a symbol, and challenged conservative attitudes across the globe with his provocative, explicit work. Here are the artists who were lucky enough to follow him.
D’Angelo was five years old when Prince’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ came out, he told Okayplayer. “When that album came out, it was just huge. He really, literally, was the talk of the town. Everybody was wondering, ‘Who is this guy? Is he a guy? Is it a girl?’ No one really knew who it was. I remember we had the album, and my brothers were just enamored by this guy. They told me, ‘He plays everything, he writes everything, he’s singing everything,’ so I was hooked from then on. I learned how to play every song on that album, note for note, at five years old.”
2. Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean once called Prince “the original based god” and since his death has written a poignant obituary about the effect he had on Ocean’s life. “I never met the man,” he writes. “I never saw him play live, regrettably.” But he influenced Frank’s worldview: “My assessment is that he learned early on how little value to assign to someone else’s opinion of you… an infectious sentiment that seemed soaked into his clothes, his hair, his walk, his guitar and his primal scream. He wrote my favourite song of all time, ‘When You Were Mine’. It’s a simple song with a simple melody that makes you wish you thought of it first, even though you never would have – a flirtatious brand of genius that feels approachable. He was a straight black man who played his first televised set in bikini bottoms and knee high heeled boots, epic. He made me feel more comfortable with how I identify sexually simply by his display of freedom from and irreverence for obviously archaic ideas like gender conformity etc.” Read Frank’s full tribute here http://frankocean.tumblr.com/post/143175497681/im-not-even-gonna-say-rest-in-peace-because-its
A few years ago Beyoncé recalled her onstage appearance with Prince at the Grammys in 2004 in an interview with Giant Magazine. “Walking into rehearsals, I just was so overwhelmed and nervous and starstruck”. Prince ensured they practiced every day for a week to prepare, and to allay her nerves. “That was so smart,” she recalled later. “It was Prince’s idea – I guess he knows people are starstruck because he’s so amazing. It made me really comfortable. By the time it was time to do it, it was second nature.”
Bey and Jay Z also sampled Prince’s ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ in ’03 Bonnie & Clyde’.
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4. Justin Timberlake
If you look at the video of Beyoncé and Prince above, you can see JT applauding enthusiastically at the end. His tribute on Instagram explains just how important Prince was to him. “It was Raspberry Beret,” he writes. “I was 4 years old. Yes, 4. I remember that I instantly loved it. “Mommy, who is that singing?” Seems weird but it’s true.
“More than a “once in a lifetime” artist… Just a ONCE IN FOREVER ARTIST. I’m still in shock as I write this and I feel this overwhelming grief. But, we should all turn away from that and HONOR this musician that changed all of our lives, our perspectives, our feeling, our whole being. From another planet? Probably. Royalty, for sure. Us worthy..? Laughable.
“They say don’t meet your idols… That they let you down. But, some of my greatest, funniest (yes, he was hilarious), and most prolific encounters and conversations about music came from the moments that I spent with him. It would be silly to say that he has inspired our music… It’s beyond that. He’s somewhere within every song I’ve ever written.
I am sad, but I will smile when I think of every second that I had the fortune of being in his company. We have lost our greatest living musician. But his music will never die.
Prince, NOTHING COMPARES…”
Miguel’s funky, super-sexual R&B is totally indebted to Prince. “There’s no way Prince could not be a musical influence of mine,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I grew up not only looking up to him as a musician but as an icon, someone who was pushing the boundaries in his art.”
On being compared to the man, he says, “Man how does anyone compare to Prince, really? There’s so many layers to his artistry, you know what I mean? Writer, virtuoso and genius, really, when it comes to him being a musician… It’s cool for people to pick parts of him that they see in me because he is one of my hugest influences. I think it’s cool that you see it if you do, but I would never compare myself to him.”
6. Sinead O’Connor
1985’s ‘The Family’ – the self-titled album by Prince’s side project – contained ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, five years before Sinead O’Connor’s version made her a star worldwide. Prince said of the cover, “I love it, it’s great! I look for cosmic meaning in everything. I think we just took that song as far as we could, then someone else was supposed to come along and pick it up.”
7. Lenny Kravitz
Kravitz was six years Prince’s junior and began his music career almost 10 years after Prince did. In his tribute he writes, “My musical brother… My friend… The one who showed me the possibilities within myself, changed everything, and kept his integrity until the end, is gone. I am heartbroken.”
Heard ‘Debra’? In fact, a lot of Beck’s 1999 album ‘Midnite Vultures’, from which it’s taken, is totally indebted to Prince. Beck sometimes covers Prince at his shows, too.
9. The Weeknd
“Prince was always just pushing the envelope,” says Abel Tesfaye, drawing comparisons between his own music and Prince’s. “Michael was doing that too, but he wasn’t as experimental. Prince turned experimental music into pop music. ‘When Doves Cry,’ the whole ‘Purple Rain’ soundtrack — he was inspired by the Cocteau Twins and new wave pop and brought it into R&B when he first started, and then it became this cool, next-level, kind of hard-to-digest music. Which is what I felt ‘House of Balloons’ was. Image, lyrics, content, storytelling, cohesive body of work: That’s Prince to me.”
10. Sheila E
Sheila, who’s been friends with Prince since the 80s, says they influenced each other. “I influenced him the same way he influenced me. When he came back to the Bay Area, I introduced him to my family, and he got to see me play with my family, with my dad, and play Latin jazz music, and he’d never heard it before. He was like, ‘This is just crazy. This is amazing.’ He loved it. We mentored each other, if you want to look at it that way. That’s the good thing about Prince: you can see how he was influenced by the people around him. I can hear and see it, because I got to live the influence that I had on him as well as the influence he had on me — just being around each other, being able to record all the time and play, and do things that he had never done using live percussion instruments and recording all the time.”
Rihanna has a lot in common with Prince: breaking the mould stylistically; making overtly sexual music; not giving a shit about what everyone thinks. At her first gig after Prince’s death, she said, “It’s a sad day for music lovers and musicians. A lot of people have started making music and listening to music because of Prince, so right now I just want to honour him, me and my crew. And you guys.”
12. Janelle Monáe
Prince was one of Monáe’s mentors, alongside Outkast’s Big Boi. “It’s a beautiful thing to have a friend – someone who cares about your career, and wants to see you go far and to push boundaries and shake up the world – give whatever they possibly can to the cause. Prince is a mentor, a friend and a musical hero of mine and he still is. Growing up, I always admired how he handled the business and gave other artists an opportunity to shine, and when he puts his stamp on someone it’s a special thing. He’s been in the industry for a really long time, he’s smart, and he’s constantly reinventing himself. I just hope when I reach that many years in the game I can still be as passionate as he and as giving to new artists as he is.”
13. Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys inducted Prince into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. See her tribute to him below.
“Artists like Prince kind of created the standard for what R&B slow classics was,” Usher says, “and there were songs like ‘Adore You,’ that was a staple. And even to this day, every album, I always create a record just like that, because that, to me, represents R&B history.
“He exemplifies the true sense of R&B, not only in the way he sings but also in the emotion. There’s something about the falsetto that I think women go crazy over. If you’re able to hit that high, high note, they go crazy.”
15. Cyndi Lauper
Lauper covered Prince’s ‘When You Were Mine’ on her debut album, the global hit ‘She’s So Unusual’, and went on to have a friendship with him. In 2008 she wrote a song about him, ‘Same Ol’ Story’, based on his 2007 Super Bowl performance. “When I saw Prince do the Super Bowl, and how he conducted not just the people but the rain,” she explained yesterday (April 21), “I thought to myself ‘That’s God’s child,’ and it made me write this song [singing] ‘People slippin in the rain, I watch them get up again,’ and it was all about watching him. ‘Same ol’ fucking story, with your same ol’ fucking rules.’ When I told him, and sang ‘Same ol’ fucking story,’ he said ‘Oh my God, you used God’s name and a curse word all in one sentence.’ And I thought to myself, ‘I’m sorry, I just am that way, maybe I’m a demon.’ But he was always nice to me, he was always sweet — I listened to everything he did. I always thought he was a great artist. As I talk about him, I don’t feel like it really happened. I feel like he’s still here.”
16. Bruno Mars
The diminutive ‘Uptown Funk’ singer from Hawaii posted the following message to Instagram: “Prince you’re one of my Heroes and no one can tell me otherwise, not even you. I’m so fortunate to have witnessed your greatness. Your music will live on forever and ever and will always have a special place in my heart. Thank You.” The image he posted was a message from Prince, which reads, “Bruno – may your only heroes be God and yourself – peace and be wild.
17. Andre 3000
The Outkast man told Vice, “Prince can do these funk jams, then these rock jams, then these beautiful ballads, then he can do these kind of piano songs — this is just about music. It’s not about, ‘I’m this type of artist and that’s all I can do.’ He showed me early on, whatever you’re into, do it. Whatever you can do, do it.”
The Swedish star says Prince was a Swedish pop star praised Prince, saying he was her hero. “Prince is king to me,” she told Pitchfork in 2010. “As this half-naked, short black guy who looked like a girl in the 70s and 80s, he was talking about women in a way that was very unusual because he didn’t objectify them. He always puts himself in a vulnerable situation. And the songs have complex views of sexuality and male and female identities, which is very rare.”
She also suggested to Spin that her love of sad songs, like ‘Dancing On My Own’ and ‘With Every Heartbeat’, is down to Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’. “It’s just such a pure and classic pop emotion,” she said.
Just listen to ‘Frontin” for evidence of Prince’s impact on Pharrell.
20. The Waterboys
The Waterboys have allegedly denied that their 1985 track ‘The Whole of the Moon’ is about Prince – frontman Mike Scott has said it’s a “composite” of many people – but that didn’t stop Prince from covering it last year. The Waterboys have also played Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ many times in concert over the years.
21. Red Hot Chili Peppers
Anthony Kiedis was invited to Paisley Park in 1990 to preview ‘Diamonds & Pearls’, which he declared “the greatest set of tunes I’ve heard.” Kiedis had previously paid tribute to the influence of the “in-your-face sexual lyrics” in 1980’s ‘Dirty Mind’. He formed Red Hot Chili Peppers in the same year.