FOR an artist who spent a lifetime shocking, challenging and captivating audiences across the planet it is perhaps no surprise that his death should come as anything less.
Prince – Prince Rogers Nelson to give him his full name – is widely regarded as one of the most inventive musicians of his era with a sound that was unique to himself, a hybrid of rock, funk, soul and pop.
An extraordinarily gifted musician, singer, songwriter and performer, he often played all of the instruments on his records as well as acting as the producer.
In a career spanning four decades he sold more than 100 million records, won seven Grammy Awards and even an Oscar for the score of his mid-eighties film Purple Rain. When once asked who the best guitar player in the world was, Eric Clapton answered without hesitation that it was Prince.
However Prince was as adept at courting controversy as he was at masterminding multi-million selling hits.
In the 1990s he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and feuded with his record company which could not cope with the performer’s prolific but erratic output.
Prince once wrote “slave” on his face in protest at not owning his work and famously battled with and then departed from his label, Warner Bros, before returning a few years ago.
During a performance in London not long after the turn of the century he memorably told an audience – who had grown tired of a set filed with new material – that they “were not here to enjoy yourselves, you’re here to learn”.
The singer, who was just 5ft 2in, made a name for himself in the late 1970s.
But it was not until the release of the film Purple Rain in 1984, a seemingly autobiographical movie set in the club scene in his home town of Minneapolis, that he achieved global stardom.
It was a huge success and the soundtrack album spent 24 weeks at the top of the charts and sold more than 13 million copies.
He would go on to have string of hits with the likes of Kiss, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, Little Red Corvette and Raspberry Beret.
He was married twice, the first time to his backing dancer Mayte Garcia, from whom he split in 2000, and then Manuela Testolini, whom he divorced in 2006.
Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 2004, where he was hailed as a trailblazer.
The dedication reads: “He rewrote the rulebook, forging a synthesis of black funk and white rock that served as a blueprint for cutting-edge music in the eighties.
“Prince made dance music that rocked and rock music that had a bristling, funky backbone. From the beginning, Prince and his music were androgynous, sly, sexy and provocative.”
Tributes quickly flooded in for the music maverick, with Chic frontman Nile Rodgers tweeting: “RIP our dearly beloved Prince. Tears and love on our tour bus ... I’ll never forget my brother. We’ve had good times.”
Madonna, who collaborated with Prince on Love Song on her album Like A Prayer, said: “He Changed The World!! A True Visionary. What a loss. I’m Devastated.”
Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood wrote: “I will miss a good friend who was so talented. He was such a great performer/guitar player. Sleep well Prince.”