Prince, a legendary rock star who parlayed that fame into an intriguing movie career, has died at the age of 57 after being found unresponsive at his Minnesota home. No cause of death is known, but he had been battling health issues for months, which he wrote off as the flu.
Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, MN, began is recording career in 1978 with the release of For You. He became the forerunner of what became known as the “Minneapolis sound,” a mix of dance funk, R&B, and rock.
His 1982 double album, 1999, shot him up the ranks to superstardom. Buoyed by this fame and popularity, Prince set his eyes towards Hollywood. The result is one of the classic rock and roll films of all time, 1984’s Purple Rain.
The film, which details the life of a Minneapolis club musician named The Kid (Prince), who must negotiate the cutthroat world of the Minneapolis music scene while dealing with family strife at home. Purple Rain was a critically and financial hit, its corresponding soundtrack album a smash success, and it earned Prince an Oscar for Best Original Score.
Prince followed up Purple Rain two years later with Under the Cherry Moon. While the earlier film was developed by Albert Magnoli from a treatment Prince wrote, this film was directed by the singer himself from a script by Becky Johnson. In it, Prince plays a man who swindles rich women out of their money. The scam works well until he falls in love with one of his marks.
The film was a box office failure and a critical bomb. It was, however, the film debut of Kristen Scott Thomas, who played the heiress Prince’s character falls in love with.
His next scripted film would be 1990’s Graffiti Bridge. This time, Prince took the reigns as writer and director of the film, which is an unofficial sequel to Purple Rain. This time around, The Kid and his rival Morris (Morris Day) are rival club owners, still embroiled in a competition set in the Minneapolis club scene. The film wasn’t as successfully critically or financially as its predecessor, and essentially marked the end of Prince’s on-screen movie career. He would provide tracks to various films over the years, and would compose the complete soundtrack to films such as Batman and Girl 6.