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Prince was a music legend, a cultural icon and so much more

Prince, a man who not only changed music forever but also challenged the world's standards of sexuality, beauty, and masculinity, has died.

A life of constant evolution, marked by loud and quiet subversion and sexually ambiguous glamour, came to an end early Thursday morning when the singer died at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota, the Carver County Sheriff's Office has confirmed.  He had been battling the flu; his plane was reportedly forced to make an emergency landing in Illinois on Friday due to his illness.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958, he would later go by Prince, the Purple One, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and quite a few other labels. But even as his name changed, his impact on culture would be a constant.

With a unique blend of pop, funk and rock  and roll explored over 39 albums, Prince used his signature falsetto to push the cultural conversation forward with lyrics that were both blatantly sexual and a challenge to gender norms.  

He became a multi-instrumentalist at a very young age — teaching himself piano, guitar, and drums by his early teenage years — and he played nearly all the instruments on his early albums, beginning with For You (1978) and Prince (1979). While those albums pushed boundaries with songs like "Soft and Wet" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover," he went even further on his aptly titled third studio, Dirty Mind. 

But it wasn't until 1999 (1982) that Prince became the pop icon we knew him as today. It was two years later that Prince made his spectacular film debut in 1984's Purple Rain, and the film's legendary soundtrack — home to "When Doves Cry" — is regarded as one of the best albums in history.

Purple Rain won Prince two Grammys in 1985. It was at that ceremony that he gave an iconic performance of "Baby I'm a Star." That year, he also won the Academy Award for Best Original Score Oscar for Purple Rain.

Shortly after the release of Around the World in a Day and the 1986 film Under the Cherry Moon, Prince parted ways with his backing band the Revolution and recruited a new band to release Sign 'O' the Times in 1987. That album was home to the androgynous ("If I Was Your Girlfriend"), the overtly sexual ("I") and the spiritual ("The Cross").

In 1992, Prince took the androgyny of "If I Was Your Girlfriend" even further with an album known as the Love Symbol Album, whose title was actually a mix of the female and male sex symbols. That album, which was home to "My Name Is Prince" and "Sexy MF" and featured his new backing band The New Power Generation, inspired Prince's 1994 direct-to-video film, 3 Chains o' Gold.

Prince inherited that symbol as his artist name in 1993 — reportedly in protest of his label, Warner Bros. — leading many to call him "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince." 

Prince once told The Guardian that "what's missing from pop music is danger. There's no excitement and mystery." And the Purple One did indeed have an air of mystery — mysticality, even —  around him always, keeping his life private life private, and, especially in recent years, remaining largely out of the spotlight.

But even then, his presence was always always felt. He made an iconic return to the Grammys in 2004, not only taking on his own hits like "Purple Rain" but also teaming up with Beyonce for "Crazy in Love."  It was that year that he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he gave one of the greatest guitar solos of all time.

Three years later, he gave us one of the most memorable Super Bowl shows of all time when he faced the downpour of rain with intrepidity and swagger for performances of "Let's Go Crazy," "Baby I'm a Star" and "Purple Rain" and covers of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower," Queen's “We Will Rock You," and Foo Fighters' "Best of You."

Prince won a total of seven Grammys and one Academy Award throughout his decades-spanning career.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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