NPR

Prince Without Permission

His albums are back on Spotify. New releases full of unheard recordings are on the way. For a fan, there is joy and pain in knowing the work Prince guarded so tightly won't stay that way for long.
Prince onstage in 1979. Source: Leni Sinclair

It is important — and always devastating — to remember that Prince died alone. He had probably also been in great pain that evening. But there was, as far as we know, nobody around to help him.

A few weeks before he died, Prince and I talked on the phone for an hour, because he unexpectedly wanted to discuss a piece I'd just written for NPR Music. He was funny, feisty, charming and kind. He was also eloquent, articulate and highly intelligent. It was a real conversation about music, the industry, social issues and life in general. He even gave me romantic advice. He should not have died alone.

He left no will. He either didn't care what happened after he was gone or simply didn't trust anyone to handle it. Again, nobody was there to help him out. In his late middle age he had no spouse, no manager and no lawyer. His employees were dedicated and loyal, as far as it goes, but none had the authority to persuade him to make sensible decisions about his legal and business affairs, to say nothing of the apparent addiction that killed him. Warner Bros. was once again his record label, but this was a largely symbolic union. Its executives were no longer telling him what to do. Perhaps we should not be so surprised by the way all of this played

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR6 min read
For Many With Disabilities, 'Let It Go' Is An Anthem Of Acceptance
The breakout song from Disney's Frozen has inspired many marginalized groups — but its message of rejecting stigma holds special resonance for disabled people and their families.
NPR2 min read
WhatsApp Tries To Curb Misinformation, And Annoying Aunts And Uncles
WhatsApp has been accused of being used to spread rumors — with serious consequences. Now the ubiquitous messaging app is moving to limit how many people users can forward messages to.
NPR4 min read
Report Says 1 In 3 U.N. Staffers Has Been Sexually Harassed
The organization surveyed over 30,000 respondents. The findings reflect a disturbing trend of inappropriate behavior in the humanitarian world.