The legendary singer, songwriter and musician, Prince, who died at his home in Paisley Park outside of Minneapolis Thursday, mastered 25 instruments in his lifetime. He sold more than 100 million records and won seven Grammys, one Oscar, and one Golden Globe. Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year of his eligibility. He also headlined the halftime show at Super Bowl XLI despite torrential downpours, in what many consider one of the best-ever halftime shows.
And when asked about his success, Prince often credited it to his work ethic.
"There's not a person around who can stay awake as long as I can," he said in a 1985 interview with Rolling Stone. "Music is what keeps me awake."
"To understand Prince, one must appreciate the extent of his musical obsession," writes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the artist's biography. "He has always been a willing servant of his tireless muse.... Because he is a workaholic, it's difficult to keep track of all he's recorded for himself and others in his orbit. There are reputedly hundreds of unreleased songs in Prince's vault."
Prince's music obsession wasn't driven by money. The artist rarely did interviews or appearances to promote albums, and along with typical stadium concerts, Prince was notorious for organizing small, intimate performances. At the end of his London tour in 2014, he alerted fans to pop-up concerts at local venues via social media with £10 tickets. In 2015, Prince held a series of spontaneous concerts as part of his "Hit and Run" tour, with some venue details being revealed only five days before the show. And in February he kicked off his "Piano & A Microphone Tour" with two evening performances at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.
"Prince likes to keep people guessing, and even though you hear phrases like classic Prince solo record or classic band record, it's one of those things that you have to hear for yourself to have a handle on what they are and it's always exciting and full of surprises," wrote Rolling Stone's Kory Grow in 2014.
And along with his musical talent, the 5'2" artist will be remembered for his innovative notions of identity and gender. In 1993, in efforts to get out of a contract with Warner Bros. Records, Prince changed his name to a symbol, a hybrid of the symbols for male and female. He was referred to in the media as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" until officially changing his name back in 2000.
"Although his motivations may sometimes seem mysterious, Prince is never uninteresting and always capable [of] one more hit record or a return to stardom," adds the Hall of Fame.
After going on a music hiatus from 2009 to 2014 without producing any new albums, Prince released two albums on the same day in 2014: "Art Official Age" and "Plectrumelectrum," a collaboration with his new all-female backing band 3rdEyeGirl.
And in his ability to transcend genres and generations, the music industry often compared Prince to his late colleague David Bowie "for his capacity for reinvention," the UK Independent reported in 2014. "The publicist Alan Edwards, who has represented both Bowie and Prince, agrees that they share an ability to 'only come forth when they have got something to say'.... Prince is nothing if not unpredictable."
At a concert last month in New York City, Prince announced to the audience that he was writing a memoir titled "The Beautiful Ones" to be published next year.
"Prince arrived on the scene in the late Seventies, and it didn't take long for him to upend the music world with his startling music and arresting demeanor," writes the Hall of Fame. "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.... While 1999, Purple Rain and Sign 'O' the Times remain Prince's best-known albums, the artist's deep discography is full of funky treasure."