This has been a bad year for losing influential musicians well before their time, and we lost another good one in Prince. While I have not listed to Prince's music on a regular basis since the early 1990s, I was a big fan of his during and shortly after the Purple Rain era. I loved that album, and I remember that the film for which it served as the soundtrack had an impact on me even though it did not hold up particularly well when I saw it again several years later.
Like many of those who have already shared their thoughts on his passing, I have always had tremendous respect for Prince's musical talent. The fact that my tastes diverged from much of what he was doing in the 1990s never stopped me from appreciating his contributions. I never stopped being aware of his work or being impressed with some of the ways he was willing to experiment. It appears that this is a common reaction. I think this is a great testament to Prince in that it seems like he was widely respected and admired even by those who were not necessarily fans of his musical style through the decades.
I couple of years ago, I picked up The Hits 1 and The Hits 2 after hearing a Prince song with which I was unfamiliar on Pandora. It had been awhile since I had listened to his old stuff, and it brought me back. I've found myself listening to it again this weekend.
In many ways, Prince impressed me as a model of non-conformity, freedom, and experimentation. Much like David Bowie before him, he was ahead of his time in so many ways, seemed to set the trends, and did things his own way. And yes, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy how thoroughly he managed to agitate conservative Christians with "Darling Nikki."
Love him or hate him, it is difficult to deny that Prince was unique, highly influential, and shaped the musical landscape in some wonderfully creative ways. He will be missed, but I am grateful for what he left behind.