Hours after the entertainment industry was rocked with news of Prince's unexpected death, President Barack Obama offered a touching tribute to the iconic singer and songwriter, who passed away at the age of 57 on Thursday. Prince's sudden passing came as a shock to many of his fans, including the president and First Lady Michelle Obama.
The president called the seven-time Grammy winner "one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time," in a statement issued Thursday by the White House:
Today, the world lost a creative icon. Michelle and I join millions of fans from around the world in mourning the sudden death of Prince. Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.
Born Prince Rogers Nelson, but known for much of his career simply as Prince, the pop music superstar's legacy includes seven Grammys, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, 100 million records sold worldwide, and a lasting impact on music, fashion, and pop culture. News of his death sent fans around the world into shocked mourning.
Prince was reportedly found unconscious in an elevator at his Paisley Park compound in Carver County, Minnesota, early Thursday, and pronounced dead soon after. The singer had been suffering flu-like symptoms for a few weeks prior to his death, but it is still unclear if or how his illness may have contributed to his tragic death.
It was well-known that the president had an appreciation for Prince's music. Last summer, he and the first lady threw a private party at the White House for close friends and family, which included musical entertainment by Prince and Stevie Wonder.
"A strong spirit transcends rules," Obama said in his statement, quoting an interview the prolific singer did with The Guardian's Barney Hoskyns in 1999. "And nobody's spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative," the president continued. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him."