Almost immediately after the news that Prince one of pop music’s most influential and innovative artists, was found dead at age 57, people around the country began pouring out love for the artist through any means possible — on buildings, stages and social media and through singing, dancing and crying.
It seemed the entire country, from President Barack Obama to the cast of the Broadway hit musical “Hamilton,” paid tribute to the pop star.
Here’s how the U.S. honored Prince as Thursday became Friday, on the first night after he passed away.
Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis, in particular, honored him in almost every way imaginable, beginning with his old stomping grounds. First Avenue, a nightclub in Minneapolis, was one of the first places Prince played regularly. So regularly, in fact, part of his 1984 movie “Purple Rain” was filmed there.
“Before ‘Purple Rain,’ all the kids who came to First Avenue knew us, and it was just like a big, fun fashion show,” he told Rolling Stone in 1985. “The kids would dress for themselves and just try and look really cool. Once you got your thing right, you’d stop looking at someone else. You’d be yourself, and you’d feel comfortable.”
On its Facebook page, the club wrote, “He grew up on this stage, and then commanded it, and he united our city. It is difficult to put into words the impact his death will have on the entire music community, and the world,” before announcing that it would honor Prince in his own spirit: With an all-night dance party featuring, of course, nothing but his songs.
This turned into a dance party unlike any other. Bodies poured out of the club, crowded the streets in a swell of both grief and joy, singing and dancing on the concrete. At one point, thousands crowded around the building in celebration of their hometown hero and belted out “Purple Rain” at the top of their lungs.
Honored in New York
Across the country, in a form of solidarity, director Spike Lee donned a purple hoodie and threw a Prince-themed dance party in New York City.
The cast of the “Hamilton” joined in from their stage on Broadway, launching into a joyfully theatrical version of “Let’s Go Crazy,” the opening track to Prince’s 1984 “Purple Rain.”
In Minneapolis, The Star Tribune reported that the City Hall bell tower will begin playing Prince tunes on Sunday at 1 p.m. The unpronounceable symbol (many called it “The Love Symbol”) to which Prince famously changed his name in 1993, will be projected onto the water tower on the Wyman Partridge Building, where Prince’s original Glam Slam nightclub once resided. The city also lit several of its bridges a deep purple.
Other cities followed suit. In New Orleans, for example, the Superdome — the city’s indoor NFL stadium — was lit purple. Los Angeles’ city hall burned purple in the sky, and the Chicago skyline glowed that familiar hue.
But many took to the Internet in a more personal manner, telling the world how much Prince meant to them and recalling stories of their time together.
Frank Ocean, whose 2012 R&B pop epic was called the year’s sole masterpiece by The Washington Post, made headlines that same year for publicly coming out as bisexual. It was unusual in the hip-hop community.
Ocean took to his Tumblr page to thank Prince — whose passing he called “bigger than death” — to write, “He was a straight black man who played his first televised set in bikini bottoms and knee high heeled boots, epic. He made me feel more comfortable with how I identify sexually simply by his display of freedom for and irreverence from obviously archaic ideas like gender conformity.”
Another seminal musician, Sir Paul McCartney, took to Twitter to express his sadness, asking God to bless the “creative giant.”
Other artists joined the former Beatle, pouring out love on social media.
“My musical brother. My friend. The one who showed me the possibilities within myself, changed everything, and kept his integrity until the end, is gone. I am heartbroken,” wrote Lenny Kravitz.
“He changed the world … I am devastated,” wrote Madonna.
“It’s like the Earth is missing a note,” Chuck D, one of the founding members of Public Enemy, tweeted.
“My friend is gone. This is what it sounds like, when doves cry. He was my dove,” Stevie Nicks tweeted.
“I’ll never get over it,” Mariah Carey tweeted.
“I’m crushed by the news that one of the greatest inspirations in music EVER has passed,” Bon Jovi tweeted.
And then there was an unusual tweet that includes a short video and had been shared more than 50,000 times as of Friday morning. In the 10-second clip, a student captured her teacher in a vulnerable moment. The caption reads, “When my teacher found out Prince died.” It shows him sitting at his desk. A Prince video plays on the projection screen, and the teacher’s head rests in his hands.
As the music plays, he removes his glasses and begins to cry.
The sentiment would likely make Prince smile. As the artist once told co-anchor Rene Syler of “The Early Show,” “ I think music, not only should it be entertaining, but it should try to uplift you in some form or fashion. I mean, I think that’s the purpose of music. It’s to make light of otherwise dire situations. You take music out of the world it’s going to be pretty dark. I think, of course, I would say that, I’m a musician.”