The city's tallest skyscraper, the Columbia Center, CenturyLink Field and the giant Ferris wheel on Elliott Bay were shining purple lights Thursday evening in honor of the rock star's life.
News of Prince’s death shocked Seattle fans, as it did around the nation, inspiring a wave of condolences and tributes to the musical legend whose fan base spans generations and includes millions.
As investigators piece together what led to the 57-year-old’s death — first-responders found him unresponsive in his home Thursday morning in a Minneapolis suburb — fans are flooding the Internet with messages of grief and organizing events to celebrate the rock star’s career.
“I have cried like I lost a family member,” a fan Seattle wrote in a blog post. “I was hoping we would get to see him in concert again, now we know that will never happen.”
The city’s tallest skyscraper, the Columbia Center, CenturyLink Field and the giant Ferris wheel on Elliott Bay were shining purple lights Thursday evening. Places spanning the globe, such as the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building, did the same.
Hailing from Minneapolis, Prince last played in Seattle in 2013, when he packed the Showbox downtown for two nights with his new band 3rdeyegirl. He played new material, as well as a few of his old songs, and paid tribute to Seattle native Jimi Hendrix.
(Photo courtesy Showbox Presents’ Facebook page.)
On Thursday, several radio stations, including Seattle’s KEXP, aired a constant stream of Prince tunes, mixing later classics off albums “1999” and “Purple Rain” with earlier hits such as “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” Prince’s records sold more than 100 million copies.
KEXP DJ Kevin Cole said in a tribute on the radio station’s blog:
“Prince was an artist with a capital A,” he wrote. “He was fearless — singing about sex, God, gender, race … sometimes all in the same song. He could move your ass and stir your soul simultaneously. He was deeply spiritual – even in a g-string and leg warmers.”
Seattle-based designer Sam Jennings said he worked for Prince beginning in the late ’90s, a time when he said together they “explored how an independent artist could use the internet to reach their audience directly and establish a community without a record label,” according to Jennings’ website.
Prince was very protective of his artistic independence, battling his record company over control of his material and even his name.
That early work led to several projects, Jennings said, and afterwards he started doing creative work for the musician, such as providing photo retouching and CD packages.
“Prince is always working, always planning his next project. It was demanding and exhilarating to be a part of that, even if we often worked on ideas just to see what would happen, without a specific end result in mind,” Jennings said on the website.
“There were times when we redid the same CD project 6 times over a year, and other times where we did something in a week and out it went to the world. It was a highly creative environment and a rare glimpse in to the working process of an exceptional artist.”
At Seattle’s EMP Museum, fans wrote messages to honor him in chalk. The museum will show Purple Rain for all ages Friday evening, though the screenings are sold out, according to the museum’s website. Organizers are planning for an upcoming showing for people over 21.
The Purple Store in North Central Seattle, which carries only items in the color, expressed its condolences online, saying in a Facebook post the store’s customers, fans and staff “humbly salute” Prince, “a true purple icon.”
Tribute-band Purple Mane is performing an impromptu set Thursday evening at Ballard’s Sunset Tavern, where DJ’s also played the rock star’s discography. A portion of the night’s bar sales will go to City of Hope, a cancer research hospital Prince supported, Sunset Tavern said.
KEXP DJ Cole, who is from Minneapolis, said in his post he is traveling out of the country now and with friends who are also from Minneapolis, some of whom worked on Purple Rain and with Cole at First Avenue, the city’s music club where Prince played often early in his career.
“I wish I was in Seattle to do my show today,” he said. “I’ll put together a tribute for when I’m back, because this isn’t about today, but the rest of our lives.”
Information from the Seattle Times archives and The Associated Press contributed to this report.