When pop icon Prince died last Thursday at the age of 57, millions of his fans, and even casual listeners of his music, were stunned—including those in the Austin community.
“I love Prince and he lives on in the spirit, especially in the spirit of his music,” said Austin resident James Elmore, who noted that he’s been a fan of Prince for years. “My favorite song was ‘Purple Rain’. A lot of people didn’t know how great he was. He played over 21 different instruments.”
“He was my homey,” said Austin resident Karon Williams. “He was misunderstood by a lot of people, but I got him.”
“I will miss him,” said Zaid Robinson. “I feel like I lost a brother; a kindred spirit. He was a closet humanitarian.”
Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He became interested in music at an early age and taught himself to play the piano, guitar and drums. Both his parents were entertainers. His father, John Nelson, whose stage name was Prince Rogers, was a bandleader of the Prince Rogers Band.
His mother, Mattie Shaw, was a jazz singer who also performed with the Rogers Band. Prince, the eldest of two siblings, was given his father’s stage name at birth. Prince’s younger sister and sole heir, Tyka Nelson, 55, lives in Minnesota, where her brother lived at his famous Paisley Park music complex.
Although he was a superstar, Prince led a very private personal life which lead to a lot of controversy and speculation. Although he was romantically linked to superstars like Madonna, he was married twice. In his first marriage to Mayte Garcia, Prince had one son, who died one week after birth from a rare genetic disorder called Pfeiffer Syndrome
Prince was a seven time Grammy winner and has had many major hits like “Purple Rain,” “Little Red Corvette,” and the sound track to the 1989 movie “Batman.” Prince performed with an impressive group of artists and wrote music for many artists.
The many collaborators gained him a multitude of fans like Austin resident Vera Sharp, who said she’s been a Prince fan since 16 years old.
“I did get a chance to see him in concert a couple of years ago, and it was a dream come true,” Sharp said. “I will never forget it.”
“It’s like losing a brother,” said Aaron Dade. “It’s like losing a part of my life. We are only three years apart in age. His music helped me get my first girlfriend, because the music back in the early 1980’s was all about love. They weren’t rapping then. They were singing music with melodies. I fell in love through a song.”
“He had his own kind of music, his own rhythm and style,” said Luis Romo. “I don’t know what it was or how to describe it, but it was unique. The way he dressed and his sense of style wasn’t your traditional and typical artists. He will always be a legend.”