By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The world knew him as Prince, and he was.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, he signed a record contract when he was 18-year-old. He soon was hitting the charts with his “Minneapolis Sound.”

He exploded on the national stage with a mix of funk, R&B, soul and rock and roll.

Prince Rogers Nelson was already a music prodigy when he met Chris Moon, a fledgling producer in Minneapolis who first recorded him in the mid-1970s.

“He came into my studio, he was 16-years-old,” Moon said. “He goes to the piano plays a little piano. He goes to the bass, ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. Plays the guitar, yeooooowww! Then he goes plays the drums, bump-bump-bump. And I thought, ‘There’s my guy!'”

But that was just the beginning. Prince unleashed “Purple Rain” on the world. It was his story of rebel youth in Minneapolis, and it launched him to international fame.

Prince famously owned his own music, once protesting a record contract with the word “Slave” written on his face.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 — when he was only 36!

Prince was a shy and reclusive figure off stage, but when he picked up a guitar, he inhabited every inch of air and space.

His Super Bowl performance is said to be the greatest halftime show of all time.

Prince lived outside Minneapolis, and privately mentored musicians and artists.

Receiving a lifetime achievement award from Black Entertainment Television, he thanked his fans for coming along for the ride.

“The future is in your hands now,” Prince said. “The world is really yours.

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Pat Kessler