Saturday, April 23, 2016

First, Let’s Get the Facts on Saudis and Iranian Involvement in 9/11

By Andrew C. McCarthy — April 23, 2016

The rubble of the World Trade Center in New York City smolders following the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

The 9/11 attacks were not civil torts. They were acts of war. It is important to keep that fact in the front of our minds as we press for long-overdue disclosure of evidence linking the Saudi Arabian government to the mass murder of nearly 3,000 Americans, to say nothing of the even more overdue investigation of Iran’s contributory role — an investigation that should have been in high gear immediately after the planes struck their targets.

Over the years in these pages, we have catalogued the damage done to national security by regarding international terrorism as a mere law-enforcement problem — the 1990s Clinton counterterrorism paradigm that President Obama has gradually reinstated. We haven’t much considered, though, another problem with thinking about violent jihadism as a litigation matter: It leads us to lose perspective about who was attacked, and why.

Much as our hearts ache for the victims whose lives were lost, and for the families whose lives were ripped apart, 9/11 was not principally an attack on the victims and their families. It was an attack on the United States of America. It was a stealth combat operation against the American people, all of us, by foreign enemies who had quite publicly declared war on our nation. Those killed and wounded are more accurately thought of as casualties than as victims.

This is why it is so unfortunate that the drive to get public accountability for the attacks has been intertwined with the effort to get financial compensation for the families by way of civil lawsuits against complicit nations.

Don’t get me wrong: All of us should demand that state sponsors of terrorism be made to pay dearly for their atrocities – although, for reasons I’ll get to in a bit, legislation permitting victims to sue is a counterproductive way to go about this. But for all the incalculable pain and suffering inflicted on our fallen fellow Americans and their families, the laudable desire to see them awarded hefty money damages is, at best, a secondary priority.

The national security of the United States demands that we endeavor to understand why and how the 9/11 attacks happened as well as what kind of relations we should have, all these years later, with nations that were culpable.

In just the last few days, as Tom Joscelyn reports, the Obama administration has transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Riyadh nine more hardcore anti-American Yemeni detainees – notwithstanding that al-Qaeda’s most capable franchise (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) has alarmingly expanded its safe haven in Yemen. Meanwhile, we learn in a jaw-dropping Wall Street Journal dispatch, the administration has announced that it will purchase from Iran tons of heavy water (used in developing plutonium bombs). In one fell swoop, Obama thus cures yet another Iranian violation of his vaunted nuclear deal (so soon after Iran tested ballistic missilesfestooned with vows to destroy Israel); subsidizes Iran’s nuclear program; legitimizes Iran’s heavy-water production (i.e., its plutonium R&D) by encouraging other nations to engage in similar commerce; and apparently structures an infusion of multi-millions of American dollars into a country he promised Congress would continue to be precluded from access to our economy.

I know, I know: Obama is incorrigible. There is no American national-security interest that would be allowed to take precedence over his legacy hunt. He is determined to be remembered by the global Left – the only audience that matters – as the president who shut down Bush’s Gitmo gulag; and if Congress won’t cooperate by transferring anti-American jihadists to stateside prisons, then he will simply empty Gitmo by transferring the jihadists back to the jihad. And we have seen time and again that he is desperate to sustain his historic “achievement” in striking the Iran nuclear deal, no matter how often Tehran humiliates him.

Nevertheless, we will have a new president soon (albeit not soon enough). That president will have to decide the nature of our relations with the Saudis and Iranians. Assuming that, unlike Obama, the next president figures there should be a rational connection between how we engage a country and how much it threatens our interests, the facts about Saudi and Iranian complicity in the anti-American jihad must be known. More to the point, the American people are entitled to be able to weigh those facts in choosing the next commander-in-chief.

As I outlined last week, there is extensive evidence of complicity by high levels of the Saudi government in the 9/11 attacks. There is, moreover, compelling evidence of Iranian complicity.
Iran had an alliance with al-Qaeda beginning in the early 1990s. It principally included training by Hezbollah (the Beirut-based terrorist faction created and controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and such joint ventures as the 1996 Khobar Towers attack, in which 19 U.S. airmen were killed (and the FBI’s investigation of which was obstructed by the Saudi government). Toward the conclusion of its probe (and thus without time to investigate the matter fully), the 9/11 Commission learned that Iran had provided critical assistance to the suicide hijackers by allowing them to transit through Iran and Lebanon as they moved from obtaining travel documents in Saudi Arabia (Saudi passports and U.S. visas) to training for the attacks in al-Qaeda’s Afghan safe havens.

Indeed, we now know that Iran’s assistance was overseen by none less than Imad Mugniyah, the now-deceased Hezbollah master terrorist who spent much of his life killing Americans, most notoriously in the Beirut marine-barracks bombing in 1983, and almost certainly at Khobar Towers. In October 2000, Mugniyah went to Saudi Arabia to “coordinate activities” (as the 9/11 Commission put it) with the suicide hijackers. (See 9/11 Commission Report at page 240, as well as affidavits of former CIA officers and a 9/11 Commission staffer, here and here). Thereafter, Mugniyah and other senior Hezbollah members accompanied the “muscle hijackers” on flights through Iran and Lebanon.

By enabling the hijackers to cross through these countries without having their passports stamped – an Iranian or Lebanese stamp being a telltale sign of potential terrorist training – Iran made it much more likely that the jihadists’ applications for Saudi passports and U.S. visas would be approved, as they were. That is why, on the topic of potential Iranian complicity in the plot, the 9/11 Commission wrote, “We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government.”

The plea has fallen on deaf ears. In fact, thanks to Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal, our government is no longer content to be willfully blind; it is knowingly and materially supporting Tehran’s terror promotion, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

Will we ever get accountability?

The prospects are not promising at the moment. As noted above, legislation has been proposed by Senators John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Chuck Schumer (D, N.Y.) to allow 9/11 families to sue the Saudis. Unfortunately, this Cornyn-Schumer bill has gotten itself tied to the effort to get disclosure of the 28 pages on Saudi complicity in 9/11 from Congress’s 2002 report.

The Saudi government has threatened to destabilize the U.S. economy by dumping up to $780 billion in dollar-denominated assets if the kingdom is made liable to suit. They are probably bluffing. It is doubtful that they actually hold assets in that amount, and even if they sold off whatever they have, they are likely exaggerating the amount of havoc it would wreak. Still, the threat has given Obama the fig leaf he needs not only to threaten a veto of the legislation but to continue suppressing the long-sought 28 pages.

The two issues must be de-linked. The development of a truly definitive public accounting of the nations and terrorist organizations that colluded in acts of war against the United States should have nothing to do with whether the 9/11 families are given a legal basis to sue foreign sovereigns. Even if the two things were necessarily connected – and they’re not – it would be the legislation, not publication of the 28 pages, that should be dropped.

Civil lawsuits by victims are no more a serious response to wartime aggression than are grand-jury indictments. A great nation does not react to acts of war by issuing court process. 
Furthermore, permitting such lawsuits (a) encourages other nations to subject the United States to lawsuits for legitimate actions taken in our national defense; and (b) consigns the conduct of the most delicate foreign-policy matters to the vagaries of litigation presided over by the judiciary – the branch of government that lacks constitutional responsibility, political accountability, and institutional competence for managing international affairs and national security.

Of course our government should pressure rogue regimes to compensate victims of terrorism. The political branches of government that are actually responsible for foreign affairs should demand that any nation complicit in the 9/11 attacks provide a fund for the families. It is feckless, however, to punt that job to the courts. Unlike the president and Congress, judges are powerless to enforce their writs against, or otherwise credibly threaten, hostile foreign sovereigns.

That, however, is the least of our problems. First, we need to find out exactly what happened in the lead-up to and aftermath of 9/11. (Post-9/11, Iran harbored al-Qaeda as the terror network fled invading U.S. forces.) Then, we need to define our engagement with Saudi Arabia and Iran in accordance with what they have done and who they actually are – not who Obama and the bipartisan foreign-policy establishment fantasize they could become.

So let’s get the facts . . . finally.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor at National Review.

Saudi Influence in Washington Must End

April 22, 2016
U.S. President Barack Obama and Saudi King Salman walk together following their meeting at Erga Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 20, 2016.

The 28 pages of a Congressional report detailing where the 9/11 hijackers got their financing have been classified for years, but what they contain is an open secret. Former Senator Bob Graham explained: “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier.” So why keep this information secret? Because the Saudis wield undue influence in Washington, among both parties – an influence that has deformed our response to the global jihad threat, and continues to do so.
Responding to a bill that would allow 9/11 victims’ families to sue governments linked to terror attacks inside the U.S., the Saudis have acted like neither an ally nor an innocent party: they’ve threatened to sell $750 billion in U.S. asserts, vividly demonstrating why their influence in Washington is so detrimental.
Nonetheless, they still have a friend in Barack Obama, a man who has never hesitated to reach out in friendship to those who threaten the United States. Obama is trying to get Congress to reject the bill, and his solicitude for the Saudis is drawing criticism even from members of his own party. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on him to release the 28 pages: “If the president is going to meet with the Saudi Arabian leadership and the royal family, they think it would be appropriate that this document be released before the president makes that trip, so that they can talk about whatever issues are in that document.” 
The New York Daily News, normally a reliable Democratic Party organ, fumed: “If the President allows himself to get pushed around this way in front of the world, then he earns every bit of the anger being directed at him by the extended family of September 11.” 
Of course, all too many Republicans are just as much in the tank for the Saudis as the Democrats. CBS Newsreported on September 30, 2001, on George W. Bush’s watch, that “two dozen members of Osama bin Laden’s family were urgently evacuated from the United States in the first days following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, according to the Saudi ambassador to Washington.” If Hitler had had twenty-four relatives on U.S. soil on December 8, 1941, would FDR have urgently evacuated them to Berlin?
The FBI under both Bush and Obama has likewise been an apparently willing servant of the Saudis. The Miami Herald reported on July 1, 2014 that “freshly released but heavily censored FBI documents include tantalizing new information about events connected to the Sarasota Saudis who moved suddenly out of their home about two weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, leaving behind clothing, jewelry and cars….This release suggests that the FBI has covered up information that is vitally important to public safety.” These “Sarasota Saudis” were a family that abruptly fled the country shortly before 9/11, “leaving behind three vehicles, food in the refrigerator and toys in the swimming pool.” Mohammed Atta may have visited their home. Yet for years, the FBI insisted that they had nothing to do with the 9/11 jihad plot, and has been extremely reticent about sharing information about their investigation. Whom is the FBI protecting, and why?
Meanwhile, the Saudis have spent untold billions of dollars spreading their Wahhabi ideology, including material such as “Jihad: The Forgotten Obligation,” in areas of the Islamic world where jihad had indeed been forgotten, largely if not completely. The Saudis have, in reawakening Muslims to this obligation, set the world on fire: al-Qaeda was a product of the Wahhabi ideology, and the Islamic State, with its unquenchable desire to commit as many jihad mass murder attacks as possible on American soil, despises the House of Saud and is determined to overthrow it but is nevertheless its demon child. The Saudis remain one of the world’s chief financiers of jihad terror.
This is an ally of the United States? No. The Saudis are not an ally of the U.S. and have not been since 9/11 and before. A presidential candidate who really wants to strike a blow against the global jihad would vow to release the 28 pages and to stand up to the Saudis’ threats, and to break the Saudis’ economic hold on the U.S. by putting the full weight of the U.S. government behind offshore drilling, oil pipelines, fracking, and the development of alternative energy sources.
In 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt not only wasn’t making sure that Hitler’s relatives were safely back home; he also wasn’t meeting with the Führer to discuss a German-U.S. alliance. It is long past time that the United States stop behaving like a weak client state of the House of Saud.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Today's Tune: Prince - Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show (Full Show)

Prince Dead at 57


Prince, the legendary and innovative musician and actor, has died at age 57. A representative for the singer confirmed his death to the Associated Press.

"It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57," his rep told Los Angeles TV station KTLA.

"Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson reports that on April 21st, 2016, at about 9:43 am, sheriff's deputies responded to a medical call at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen," the sheriff's office wrote in a statement. "When deputies and medical personnel arrived, they found an unresponsive adult male in the elevator. First responders attempted to provide lifesaving CPR, but were unable to revive the victim. He was pronounced deceased at 10:07 am.

"The Carver County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death." Star Tribune reports that the medical examiner has scheduled an autopsy for Friday.

He'd canceled some dates of his "Piano and a Microphone" tour in early April because of the flu, TMZ previously reported. A week ago, the singer was hospitalized after his private plane made an emergency landing after a show in Moline, Illinois. Varying reports said he was suffering dehydration and was getting over the flu. He was released after three hours and flew to Minneapolis, where he was recovering at home. 

Over the course of nearly four decades, Prince became an icon of artistry and individuality. Few musicians defined and redefined pop, rock, R&B, funk, soul and nearly every other musical genre imaginable like Prince, who issued his debut album in 1978.

He embraced controversy, presenting himself as an androgynous sexaholic in his album art and lyrics, and challenged conservative music ideals in his first decade on albums like 1999Purple Rain and Sign 'O' the Times.

A singular force, he famously performed, produced and wrote nearly all of his own songs at the beginning of his career and would go on to build a music empire out of his home near Minneapolis as he expanded his musical vocabulary. Four of his albums topped the Billboard 200, and the RIAA awarded 20 of his LPs with gold, platinum and multiplatinum plaques.

At the peak of his career in the early Eighties, Prince embraced acting. He starred in the 1984 blockbuster Purple Rain and would go on to appear in 1986's Under the Cherry Moon and 1990's Graffiti Bridge, the latter two of which he also directed. Additionally, he wrote the screenplay for Graffiti Bridge.

He was also an iconoclast. He went against the grain of the music industry, renaming himself  an unpronounceable symbol at a time when he was protesting his record contract and refusing to bow to emerging formats like online music streaming. He distributed albums to concertgoers along with their tickets when that was a novel concept, and he planned other tours at the spur of the moment, dubbing them "hit and run" shows.

Prince won several awards for his music in his lifetime. His first major trophy was a Grammy for his Purple Rain album in 1984; that same year, he also won a Grammy for writing "I Feel for You," which Chaka Khan had made a hit. The next year, he took home an Oscar for the Purple Rain score in 1985. The following year he earned another Grammy for "Kiss," and won two more in 2004 for the songs "Musicology" and "Call My Name," both of his 2004 album MusicologyIn 2007, he earned another for "Future Baby Mama," off his Planet Earth LP. He won several MTV Music Video Awards dating back to the mid Eighties and he won a Golden Globe for "The Song of the Heart," which appeared in Happy Feet.

Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7th, 1958 in Minneapolis. His father, John Nelson, was the leader of a jazz band in the area, and his mother, Mattie, was a vocalist for the ensemble. "I named my son Prince because I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do," his father once said. An autodidact, Prince began playing piano at age seven, guitar at 13 and drums the next year.
He joined a band called Grand Central, which eventually changed its name to Champagne, when he was 14. At age 18, he made a demo tape with an engineer named Chris Moon. When local businessman Owen Husney heard the tape in 1978, he helped negotiate Prince's first recording contract, with Warner Bros. Records, which granted him unprecedented autonomy for a new signing, let alone an artist his age.

That same year, Prince earned his first hit, the lubriciously titled "Soft and Wet," a song that would appear on his first album, that year's For You. The single stalled at Number 92 on the Top 100 but reached Number 12 on the R&B chart. He flirted even more with overtly erotic innuendoes on his 1979 single "I Wanna Be Your Lover" (sample lyric: "I wanna be the only one that makes you come [dramatic pause] running!"), which would become his breakthrough song. The track, which appeared on his self-titled sophomore LP, reached Number 11 on the Top 200 and topped the R&B chart. The album was home to a couple of other genre hits, including "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "Sexy Dancer," and it established him as a hit maker.

When it came time to tour for Prince, the artist took a cue from Sly and the Family Stone and put together a band of musicians of different races and genders. Around this time, he would sometimes strip down to bikini underpants and do exercise routines onstage. By 1980, Prince was certified platinum.

Despite the pop success of Prince, the artist delved deeper into sexually explicit lyrics on his next two albums, 1980's Dirty Mind and the following year's Controversy. The former contained the hits "Uptown," "Dirty Mind" and "Head," but garnered controversy for the song "Sister," which extolled the virtues of incest. The record also contained "When You Were Mine," a song that Cyndi Lauper and Mitch Ryder would later cover. The latter album – which fully embraced its title – was the last of Prince's early recordings to miss the Top 10, but it nevertheless was home to the hits "Controversy," a song that toyed with people's perceptions of him ("Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?") and "Let's Work."

Prince's fifth album, the 1982 double-LP 1999, made him a superstar. It reached Number Nine thanks to the strength of a number of unique crossover singles: "Little Red Corvette" (a song in which Prince is sexually objectified by a woman), "1999" (which found him splitting lead vocals with his bandmates), the giddy "Delirious" and "Let's Pretend We're Married." The video for "Little Red Corvette" was also one of the first videos to break MTV's race barrier, establishing him as a mainstream artist. The album would be certified quadruple platinum in 1999.

During the particularly productive time surrounding 1999, Prince also began writing and producing songs under the pseudonym Jamie Starr for two other groups, the local group the Time and a trio of women he assembled, Vanity 6. The Time scored R&B hits with "Cool" and "777-9311," both of which Prince would perform at his own concerts for years to come. 
Meanwhile, Vanity 6 featured the artist's girlfriend at the time, Denice Matthews, as its frontwoman. He'd initially suggested she take the stage name Vagina but changed it to Vanity after she refused. They scored a hit with "Nasty Girl," another song he would sing at his own shows live. After his relationship with Vanity ended, he recruited Apollonia Kotero as their frontwoman and renamed the group Apollonia 6. Vanity, who later became born again and denounced her work with Prince, died earlier this year.

In 1984, Prince released his biggest-selling albumPurple Rain, a tie-in to the blockbuster movie of the same name, which came out the same year. The album has sold more than 13 million copies, with the quasi-autobiographical film featuring Prince, as the Kid, struggling on Minneapolis' local music scene and competing with the Time as his home life falls apart.
The movie featured him performing several songs from the album live and created a perfect platform for him to launch a string of hit singles. The guitar-infused R&B song "When Droves Cry" and pop-rock masterpiece "Let's Go Crazy," both hit Number One, while the epic "Purple Rain" – which features one of Prince's most lyrical guitar solos – reached Number Two. As detailed in Alan Light's book Let's Go Crazy, Prince was inspired to write the song from Bob Seger. 

"He was really interested in why was Bob Seger such a big star, especially in the Midwest," Light told NPR. "And Matt Fink, the keyboard player, remembers that he was talking to Prince and said, 'Well, it's these big ballads that Bob Seger writes. It's these songs like "We've Got Tonight" and "Turn the Page." And that's what people love.' And Prince went out to try to write that kind of arena-rock power ballad that resulted in 'Purple Rain.'" The serenely New-Wave "I Would Die 4 U" would make it to Number Eight, while the mid-tempo pop sing-along "Take Me With U" made it to Number 25.

It was the first record to credit his backing band, the Revolution, and it set the stage for a major tour, for which Sheila E. opened. Prince produced her The Glamorous Life album in 1984.
The album also contained the deep cut "Darling Nikki," an unusual song in which the titular character is a "sex fiend" who is caught masturbating. In Purple Rain, the movie, the song serves as a metaphor for the Kid's frustration after he learns that Apollonia has begun working with the Time. In real life, it sparked its own controversy when the 11-year-old daughter of then-Senator Al Gore played the lascivious song at home horrifying her mother, Tipper Gore, who went on to form the Parents Music Resource Center in an effort to warn people about what she described as pornographic lyrics. It had little effect on Prince's popularity, but the resultant group would inspire the record industry to begin voluntarily stickering albums with parental advisory warnings.

The following year, he declined the opportunity to take part in "We Are the World" but instead contributed his own "4 the Tears in Your Eyes" to the USA for Africa album. He also began working with another artist, Sheena Easton, writing her hit "Sugar Walls," another song that would become a target of the PMRC.

Prince followed up the success of Purple Rain formally with 1985's neo-psychedelic Around the World in a Day album ("Raspberry Beret," "Pop Life") and the following year's Parade ("Kiss"). The latter served as the counterpart album to the artist's second movie, 1986's Under the Cherry Moon, which co-starred the Time's Jerome Benton. The movie received negative reviews and stalled at the box office.

The artist took a rare break from touring after the release of Around the World in a Day. He used that time to open his own Paisley Park studio and launch a Paisley Park imprint with Warner Bros. The label signed the Family, Mazarati, Madhouse and Jill Jones, but none scored hits, though a song that he wrote for the Family, "Nothing Compares 2 U," eventually became a hit for Sinéad O'Connor in 1990.

Prince closed out the Eighties in a typically oblique manner. He recorded and marketed an underground party record he dubbed The Black Album in 1987, but pulled it at the last second due to a crisis of conscience (or as the result of a bad ecstasy trip, depending on reports). The album would go on to become one of the most bootlegged LPs. It eventually got an official release in 1994 to help him sever a contentious contract with Warner Bros., but at the time he'd salvage only "When 2 R in Love" for what would become his next release, 1988's Lovesexy. That album contained nine songs, but when the CD came out, he insisted they be included on a single track. That album nevertheless contained the hit "Alphabet Street." In 1989, he put out his last Number One album for a number of years, Batman, which contained his first Number One single since "Kiss," "Batdance."

After the failure of Under the Cherry Moon, Prince fired the Revolution and recorded the hit album Sign 'O' the Times with a new, untitled band that featured Sheila E. The double-LP helped him regain his commercial footing, reaching Number Six on the Billboard 200 and going platinum. Like Purple Rain, its singles spanned a wide swath of styles: the bubbly yet pensive title track, the funky and percussive "U Got the Look" (featuring Sheena Easton), the pining "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" and the sinewy "If I Was Your Girlfriend." Prince's half-sister, Lorna Nelson, sued him, claiming he'd stolen her lyrics for "U Got the Look," but lost the suit before the decade was up. He accompanied the album with a concert film and world tour.

The Nineties kicked off with another movie, Graffiti Bridge, that picked up the story of Purple Rain's the Kid. Like Under the Cherry Moon, though, it was a critical and commercial failure. The album nevertheless scored him a hit with "Thieves in the Temple." He rebooted in 1991 with a new backing band, the New Power Generation, and a sound that focused more on funk and elements of hip-hop. Diamonds and Pearls was a Number Three hit album, containing the sh-boogieing single "Cream" and more sexual "Get Off," as well as the poppy title track. The next year, Warner Bros. made him a vice president and renewed his contract. He put out another record that year with a symbol, merging the signs for male and female, as its title. The LP, a Number Five hit, contained the hits "7," "My Name Is Prince" and "Sexy M.F."

He subsequently became known by a number of monikers, most popularly "the Artist Formerly Known as Prince," by a confused public. In 1994, Warner Bros. dropped Paisley Park Records, and Prince released a single, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" on an independent label. Although Warner Bros. said it approved of the "experiment," it marked the beginning of a public war between the singer and the label. He wrote "Slave" on his cheek and began giving the label compilations of recordings he'd stored in the vault to fulfill his contract.

"People think I'm a crazy fool for writing 'slave' on my face," he told Rolling Stone in 1996. "But if I can't do what I want to do, what am I? When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave. That's where I was. I don't own Prince's music. If you don't own your masters, your master owns you."

By 1996, Prince ended his contract with Warner Bros. and struck up a distribution deal with EMI, which helped him put out the three-CD set Emancipation via his own NPG label. It contained two Top 40 singles, a cover of the Stylistics' "Betcha by Golly Wow" and the pop-rock-leaning "The Holy River." The album reached Number 11 on the Billboard 200 and went on to be certified double-platinum. That same year, he also lent a number of his hits to the soundtrack of Spike Lee's film Girl 6.

Toward the end of the decade, as the Internet became commonplace, Prince became one of the first artists to try selling CDs directly to fans. He offered the three-CD compilation Crystal Ball, which collected songs that were never officially released, in 1998. It managed to reach Number 62 on the Billboard 200. Prince closed out the Nineties with Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic and a re-recording of "1999," the latter of which failed to chart.

The next decade proved to be a time of experimentation for Prince, who returned to his birth name in 2000. He released the jazzy The Rainbow Children in 2001, which received mixed reviews, and One Nite Alone ..., an album that found him performing only with piano on most tracks and featuring a Joni Mitchell cover ("A Case of U"), as an online-only release the following year. He followed that up with a rare live album, One Nite Alone ... Live! Neither charted. He put out three records in 2003: the jazzy, instrumental-only albums Xpectation and N.E.W.S. and a funk-jazz live outing, C-Note.

Prince returned to pop music in 2004 with Musicology, an album that would earn him Grammys for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance ("Call My Name") and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance ("Musicology"). It also catapulted him back onto the album chart, bowing at Number Three, thanks to his idea of including copies of the CD with purchases of tickets to see him live. (Nielsen SoundScan subsequently changed the rules after the release, counting only albums sold in addition to ticket purchases as album sales.) The record would ultimately be certified double-platinum. He put out two other funky, R&B-inflected albums that year, The Chocolate Invasion and The Slaughterhouse, but neither charted.

That same year, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After Alicia Keys inducted the musician, Prince appeared onstage to perform a breathtaking guitar solo during the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison.

As YouTube and streaming music became more prevalent, Prince subsequently became an outspoken voice against what he viewed as piracy. He would ask performances of his songs to be removed from the service. Despite this, his funky 2006 album 3121 was a Number One hit and was ultimately certified gold. His 2007 release, Planet Earth, reached Number Three and contained "Future Baby Mama," which scored him a Grammy. His double-album release Lotusflow3r and MPLSound (which was bundled with Bria Valente's Elixer) reached Number Two and went gold as an exclusive release for big-box retailer Target.

The prolific musician continued unusual record releases with the 2010 album 20Ten, which came out in Europe as a free release with the German edition of Rolling Stone and other publications. In recent years, he put out albums as companion pieces. The rock and funk–focused Plectrumelectrum, which found him fronting the otherwise all-girl trio 3rdEyeGirl, came out in 2014 along with the R&B solo LP Art Official Age, both of which charted in the Top 10. Last year, he issued HitnRun Phase One and HitnRun Phase Two, the latter of which came out only via Jay Z's streaming service Tidal (the rare streaming service Prince approved of).

Prince rarely conducted in-depth interviews, especially in recent years, and kept his personal life private. Nevertheless, he was linked romantically to several women in his lifetime, including Kim Basinger, Madonna, Sheila E., Carmen Electra, Susanna Hoffs and several others. He was engaged to Susannah Melvoin, frontwoman for the Family and the twin sister of Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin, in 1985. But he did not marry until 1996, when he wed dancer Mayte Garcia. They had a son, Boy Gregory, that year but he died a week after his birth due to Pfeiffer syndrome. They divorced in 1999. He married another woman, Manuela Testolini, in 2001 and became a Jehovah's Witness that year. His second marriage ended in 2006.

Earlier this year, he announced that he had begun work on his memoirs. "We're starting right at the beginning from my first memory, and hopefully we can move all the way to the Super Bowl," he told a crowd at a private concert in New York City last month. "We just started, we're going as quick as we can, working tirelessly." The book was tentatively titled The Beautiful Ones.
Prince's last public appearance was a party at Paisley Park. Star Tribune staff writer Sharyn Jackson reported that he was proud of a new purple guitar he'd just gotten. He addressed rumors of his poor health at the show. Jackson reported he said, "Wait a few days before you waste any prayers."

Prince dead at 57: Legendary musician found at Paisley Park

Prince, performing in 1985, in his superstardom heyday. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives

Prince was the soundtrack of our lives, the inspiration for a generation of musicians. He was one of us. He was all of us.
And now he’s gone.
Hailed worldwide as a versatile musical genius, Prince Rogers Nelson died Thursday morning at his Paisley Park recording studio complex in Chanhassen. He was 57.
After a frantic 911 call from an unidentified man who said Prince appeared to be dead and that the people at the scene were “distraught,” emergency responders found the musician, unresponsive, in an elevator, the Carver County Sheriff’s Office reported. He was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. They performed CPR but were unable to revive him.
The cause of death was not known. An autopsy will be conducted Friday by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County.
The news stunned fans from the Twin Cities to the nation’s capital, spreading around the globe within minutes. Mourners from President Obama to Mick Jagger paid respects and shared their sentiments, many awash in purple.
All day and well into the night, Minnesotans poured onto streets and into clubs to remember him. They huddled and cried in the rain outside his studio and at the First Avenue music club in Minneapolis, sharing stories about their personal encounters with the international superstar who still called Minnesota home.
Late into the night, thousands filled the streets outside First Avenue, hugging, weeping, laughing, and dancing and singing. Local artists, including Lizzo and Chastity Brown, performed covers of his song with the crowd singing along. Around 11 p.m., people clustered near the doors of the club, where an all-night dance party was about to begin.
“Prince was a child of our city, and his love of his hometown permeated many of his songs,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said. “Our pride in his accomplishments permeates our love of Minneapolis. … Prince never left us, and we never left him.”
Condolences flooded social media, and at evening Amy Schumer and Mumford & Sons shows in the Twin Cities, spoken and musical tributes were offered. Legislators paused for a moment of silence at a hearing. Sports teams and corporations turned their social media pages purple. Maplewood-based 3M turned its logo purple and added a tear. Buildings and structures from the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River to Duluth’s Enger Tower were bathed in purple light Thursday night.
“Our hearts are broken,” First Avenue said on Facebook. “Prince was the Patron Saint of First Avenue. He grew up on this stage, and then commanded it, and he united our city.”
At the club, where Prince not only filmed the movie “Purple Rain,” but recorded the song of the same name and several more in concert, his influence on other musicians was still apparent. He was so closely tied to the club, many fans believed (erroneously) that he owned it.
Nate Kranz, the club’s general manager, recalled Prince’s last show there — on July 7, 2007 — coming together at the last minute. Prince often called the venue to ask if he could perform, Kranz said, and told them he was interested in putting on a late-night show just a few days before.
“I think he felt very comfortable here, in a way that he could try out new music,” he said. “He could come down and do his thing in front of an appreciative audience.”
As Kranz worked to put together the evening’s tribute, he said wryly, “In perfect Prince fashion, [it’s] very short notice and hectic.”
The news of Prince’s death came less than a week after his private plane made an emergency landing early last Friday in Illinois as he was returning to the Twin Cities from two shows in Atlanta.
Afterward, a source close to Prince told the Star Tribune that the musician was dehydrated on the flight home. Prince himself sought to clarify the situation on Saturday, saying, “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.”
Publicist Martin Keller, who covered Prince as a journalist from the time the artist was 17, called him a “great inspiration for African-American kids anywhere, growing up in a broken home, pursuing what you want to do, becoming successful at it, building a wide world following.”
Keller said Prince was a “severe introvert” who grew from barely getting words out early in his career to becoming more articulate and media-friendly as he got older.
“Minnesota has never produced anyone like him and is not likely to again,” Keller said. “You just don’t get that in one artist.”
Growing up in Minneapolis
The son of a social worker mother and jazz pianist father, Prince Rogers Nelson grew up playing music at home. His father, John Nelson, led the Prince Rogers Trio. His mother, Mattie Shaw, sang, as does his younger sister, Tyka Nelson.
Prince formed his first band with friends at age 13 and over time became the driving force behind the “Minneapolis sound,” a hybrid mix of funk, rock, pop and new wave.
He became known for shunning interviews, creating his own mystique and controlling his image with a team of stylists, publicists and lawyers. Even after becoming a global superstar, he stayed close to home, recording at Paisley Park and appearing often at late-night concerts and dance parties there.
Born on June 7, 1958, Prince had a thing for the number 7. On 7/7/7, he held three concerts at three venues in downtown Minneapolis, telling the crowd at one show, “Minneapolis, I am home.”
He married Mayte Garcia in 1996, and the two had a son who died at one week old of a rare birth defect. The couple later divorced. Prince was married again in 2001, to Manuela Testolini. Their marriage lasted until 2006.
Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001. In 2003, an Eden Prairie woman told Star Tribune columnist C.J. that she was stunned when Prince and former Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham knocked on her door. Prince introduced himself as Prince Nelson and spent 25 minutes at the woman’s house talking about his faith.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and three years later played the halftime show for the Super Bowl. His performance is considered one of the best in the game’s history.
Signed to a Warner Bros. deal in 1977, Prince famously battled with the company for control of his music. A year or so after signing a $100 million deal in 1992, he started writing “slave” on his cheek to protest his lack of ownership of his master recordings. He eventually abandoned the label and, since the record company owned his name, performed using a glyph of his own making that mashed up the symbols for male and female. He started calling himself “Prince” again in 2000.
Prince started the band 3rdEyeGirl in 2012 and in recent years was more forthcoming and available to his fans, concerned with his legacy and teaching others. He announced plans in March to write a memoir that he planned to call “The Beautiful Ones.”
Fans pay tribute
By midday Thursday, officials had closed a stretch of the road outside Paisley Park after traffic backed up on nearby Hwy. 5 as more mourners trickled in with purple flowers.
Many stood outside in the rain, tearfully admiring a bright rainbow. The sun came out as more fans arrived and laid flowers along the fence.
Jodee Murphy, 45, stood with her friend, Laura Carlson, 48. Murphy said she experienced her first kiss to the song “Raspberry Beret.” Of Prince’s death, she said, “I felt like part of my youth died.”
Condolences and Twitter eulogies poured in from everyone from U.S. senators to celebrities ranging from Questlove to MC Hammer to Justin Timberlake.
Obama’s Facebook page called Prince “one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time … a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.”
Gov. Mark Dayton said Prince’s “tremendous talent was matched only by his generosity and commitment to improving his community … [his] contributions to the betterment of our state will be remembered for years to come.”
Broadway star and recent Pulitzer Prize winner Lin-Manuel Miranda echoed one of Prince’s famous opening lines: “Dearly beloved: We are gathered here today 2 get through this thing called Life …”
Perhaps nowhere was the mourning more personal than in north Minneapolis, Prince’s old stomping grounds.
Robin Crockett, 54, lives in the brown brick home off Plymouth and Russell Avenues N. where Prince lived in the 1970s, when he was in high school. She bought it in 2007.
Crockett had known Prince since she was 10. She and others often huddled in the home’s basement to watch him practice. “He’d sit without his guitar plugged in,” she said. “Just him and his guitar.”
On Thursday, fans stopped by her house to take photos or drop off a flower.
“This has just been horrible,” she said, tearing up. “We were on the map because he was there.”

Staff writers Neal Justin, Jon Bream, John Reinan, Matt McKinney, Beatrice Dupuy, Karen Zamora, Jennifer Brooks, Emma Nelson, Kelly Smith and Paul Walsh contributed to this report.