These Fabulous Photos Capture Prince’s Singular Essence

No matter what the occasion, Prince could be counted on to look fabulous.

The album cover for Prince's Prince (1979). Photo: courtesy Prince.
The album cover for Prince's Prince (1979).
Photo: courtesy Prince.

Music lovers around the world are in mourning for Prince, the legendary singer and cultural icon, who died suddenly on April 21 at age 57 after suffering from the flu. He had recently cancelled two shows on his “Piano and a Microphone” tour.

Over the course of his trailblazing musical career, which saw him move effortlessly between musical genres, seamlessly-blending pop with rock, R&B, and funk, Prince sold over 100 million records. A seven-time Grammy winner and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Prince’s hit songs include “When Doves Cry,” “1999,” “Kiss,” and “Little Red Corvette.” His 1984 film, Purple Rain, netted him an Oscar for best original song.

The hugely prolific singer was known for his androgynous sexuality, and fearless fashion sense, as well as his musical and songwriting-prowess. Memorably, in 1994, Prince temporarily abandoned his mononymic moniker in favor of an unpronounceable symbol, referring to himself only as “the artist formerly-known as Prince” and refusing to perform his iconic, earlier songs in concert.

Such behavior, of course, was bound to raise eyebrows. “Why does everyone think I’m mad?” Prince once asked his British press person, as reported by the Guardian. Their response? “Because you do weird things and you don’t explain them.”

Of course, that wonderful weirdness was part and parcel of Prince’s undeniable appeal and enduring fame. “Prince does do weird things, but he also performs live with a stage presence and a charisma that’s unrivaled in American entertainment,” the Guardian‘s Barney Hoskyns was quick to add.

Indeed, no matter what name he was going by, Prince remained singularly iconoclastic and a fascinating subject for photographers throughout his career. Like the singer’s fans, they were likely captivated by his unique spirit and fascinating persona. Here are a few of our favorite shots, including some classic Prince album covers, as well as works by artists Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe, in honor of the late singer.

Filmmaker Spike Lee talks with the musician formerly known as Prince during the 1998 NBA All Star Game at Madison Square Garden. <br>Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Filmmaker Spike Lee talks with the musician formerly known as Prince during the 1998 NBA All Star Game at Madison Square Garden.
Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Robert Mapplethope photographed Prince for Andy Warhol's <em>Interview</em> magazine in 1980. <br>Photo: courtesy the New Museum, New York.

Robert Mapplethope photographed Prince for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine in 1980.
Photo: courtesy the New Museum, New York.

Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears in 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. <br>Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

Prince performs during the “Pepsi Halftime Show” at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears in 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The album cover for Prince's <em>Lovesexy</em> (1988). <br>Photo: courtesy Prince.

The album cover for Prince’s Lovesexy (1988).
Photo: courtesy Prince.

Portrait of American singer Prince at the Zenith in Paris for his only concert in the French capital, HELD IN 1986. <BR>Photo: Pascal George/AFP/Getty Images.

Portrait of American singer Prince at the Zenith in Paris for his only concert in the French capital, HELD IN 1986.
Photo: Pascal George/AFP/Getty Images.

Recording artist Prince speaks onstage during the 2015 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. <br>Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

Recording artist Prince speaks onstage during the 2015 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

The album cover for Prince's Rave in2 the Joy (2000). Photo: courtesy Prince.

The album cover for Prince’s Rave in2 the Joy (2000).
Photo: courtesy Prince.

Prince and Beyonce perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in 2004. <br>Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Prince and Beyonce perform at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in 2004.
Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

The album cover for Prince's <em>Purple Rain</em> (1984). <br>Photo: courtesy Prince.

The album cover for Prince’s Purple Rain (1984).
Photo: courtesy Prince.

Rapper Ludacris and music artist Prince watch the 2007 NBA All-Star Game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. <br>Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Rapper Ludacris and music artist Prince watch the 2007 NBA All-Star Game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

The album cover for Prince's <em>Art Official Age</em> (2014). <br>Photo: courtesy Prince.

The album cover for Prince’s Art Official Age (2014).
Photo: courtesy Prince.

Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears in 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. <br>Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images.

Prince performs during the “Pepsi Halftime Show” at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears in 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images.


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