Updated with statement from President Obama.
Fans, friends, and peers were floored this morning as news spread that legendary music icon Prince was found dead earlier today at the age of 57 from undisclosed causes. Social media was dominated Thursday morning by a torrent of grief and celebration for the Oscar and multiple Grammy-winning musician, actor, and producer whose enormous legacy spanned 40 years.
Admirers ranging from actors and television personalities to fellow musicians and politicians expressed grief in the hours following Prince’s death, with even President Obama offering his condolences in the early afternoon. “Today, the world lost a creative icon. Michelle and I join millions of fans from around the world in mourning the sudden death of Prince,” he said in a statement sent to media and also posted to Facebook. “Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent.”
“As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer,” Obama continued. “”A strong spirit transcends rules,” Prince once said — and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him.”
Fittingly, music channels whose programming (and viewership) were quite often driven by Prince’s music also weighed in. “The news of Prince’s passing weighs heavily on our hearts. He was a musical prodigy, a beautiful spirit and fashion provocateur who influenced American culture,” said BET Networks in a statement released to media. “With a career that spanned four decades, his contributions to music are immeasurable. His influence transcended race, gender and religion. He was unapologetic about his individuality and was the embodiment of what it means to be a true artist. Because of that, he was magnetic to the world. Prince was the personification of black excellence… We will remember him and miss him dearly.”
Likewise, MTV, which began playing a block of all-Prince music videos shortly after the news broke, also paid tribute to the musician who practically defined the 1980s for it. “MTV is heartbroken and in utter disbelief at the news that the world has lost Prince Rogers Nelson so suddenly and so before his time. Prince was a once-in-a-lifetime artist who transcended every medium and genre he touched and created music with a passion and individuality that inspired multiple generations. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, friends and millions of fans.”
Hall & Oates lead singer Daryl Hall also mourned Prince’s death. “I, like everyone, was shocked to hear of Prince’s passing. His talent and energy was phenomenal, and I use that word literally.. He was a phenomenon, elemental, capricious, those words describe him and his music,” Hall said in a message posted to the duo’s Facebook page. “I remember playing with John at the Roxy in Hollywood, back in the late seventies. Prince came to every performance, and just sat in the back, watching. When I met him about a year later, he gave me a cordial hello. I mention that, because it was so unusual to get response from him. He was a complicated man, who possessed enormous talent. He will be sorely missed.”
Cities all over the world lit up their most iconic buildings in purple tonight in tribute to Prince, and here in Los Angeles it was City Hall, which was thusly illuminated just after 9:00 PM.
But the most frequent reaction: shock.
“I Miss My Brother,” said director Spike Lee. “Prince Was A Funny Cat. Great Sense Of Humor.”
“I’m Crushed!! UK news reporting Prince Is Dead?! For Real?!,” Samuel L. Jackson Tweeted. Massive Loss for us all! What a Genius! Speechless.”
“I think this awful news is true. Prince changed me,” said Lena Waithe. I’m speechless. Lump in my throat. There will never be another like him.”
Prince was a true gentleman, a king among men,” New Girl‘s Zooey Deschanel said about Prince, who guest-starred on the show in 2014. “He was as sharp and as talented as they come. I’m so glad I was lucky enough to work with him.”
“I’m a man of words I’m kinda speechless on losing #Prince it’s like the Earth is missing a note,” Public Enemy frontman Chuck D tweeted. Little to say-only thing to do is play.”
“It was Raspberry Beret,” Justin Timberlake said in a tribute posted to Facebook. “I was 4 years old. Yes, 4. I remember that I instantly loved it… 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… 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…”
Said Project Runway All Stars host Alyssa Milano, “We’ve lost the greatest artist of my generation. I danced on stage with him when milo was in my belly. Prince, I will forever love you. #RIP”