Prince fused ‘black soul’ with ‘white rock’: music experts
Prince created a new sound by fusing black American musical styles with white rock, and deeply influenced the current generation of artists, music experts said.
The US music icon was found dead, aged 57, at his studio complex outside his home city of Minneapolis on Thursday.
Philip Priestley, who made a 2008 documentary comparing the careers of Prince and Michael Jackson, said that growing up in Minneapolis forced Prince to create a new sound, as the Minnesota city was simply “not on the map” for black music.
“There was not a great Afro-American community so he grew up listening a lot of radio which was broadcasting other stuff than black soul music and rhythm and blues,” he said.
“He was listening to rock — white rock — which explains in a great extent why he was so unique musically.
“He fused a black American tradition — rhythm and blues, soul, funk, jazz — with white rock.”
Priestley said that while Jackson came through the Motown record label scene, Prince was his own creation.
“He was unique in that sense. He opened a lot of doors for a lot of music that came afterwards because he’s hard to define,” Priestley said.
“He created the pop music that we are listening to today, which is a mixture of a lot of things.”
Usher, D’Angelo, Beyonce Knowles and Lady Gaga are among those who trace their inheritance back to Prince.
“Like David Bowie he meant something to everyone. He was one of those unique stars,” said Dan Stubbs, commissioning editor for Britain’s NME music magazine.
“With Prince… he not only influenced people, he took people as proteges. He mentored people.
“He was always looking for someone interesting, to make contact with them, invite them to work for him, invite them to Minneapolis.”
He cited the 26-year-old London soul singer Lianne La Havas as an example.
“Until Prince picked up on her, she was hugely under the radar,” said Stubbs.
He also singled out US recording artist Janelle Monae, 30.
“Like him, she’s a polymath,” Stubbs said.
“He picked up on people with a bit of his DNA in them: People who were doing something different.”
Priestley said the emotional reaction to Prince’s death was because he symbolised an era.
“He epitomises a period apart from anything else,” Priestley said.
“You think of the early Sixties, you think of Bob Dylan. The early Eighties, you are either a Prince fan or a Michael Jackson fan.
“He has that stature of being like John Lennon, like Elvis Presley, like Jimi Hendrix.”