10 Essential Prince Moments You Have To See

Photo: Richard E. Aaron/ Getty.
Today, the music world suffered a huge loss when Prince passed away at 57. Few artists achieve what he did, releasing new music at a breakneck pace for much of his career (including five number-one hits) and influencing generations of future musicians. His live performances were explosive — not even the 2007 Super Bowl could tame his wild, risqué energy. He was such a dominant force in his '80s heyday that he became the first artist in history to have the No. 1 album, single, and movie at the same time.

Over the last four decades, Prince tried on many different versions of himself, even going so far as to change his name to a wordless symbol that captured his androgynous persona. But the constant was always his passion. So, whether you've been a fan for years and want to remember his most seminal moments or need to get up to speed on his legacy, we've rounded up the 10 essential moments of His Purpleness.

Feel free to blast "Purple Rain" as you click through.

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Photo: Courtesy of Warner Brothers.
1999 (1982)

Prince's first major commercial hit was buoyed by the brilliant, timeless tunes "1999" and "Little Red Corvette." The album reached No. 9 on the Billboard Top 200 charts.
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Photo: Ebet Roberts/ Getty Images.
Sheila E. On The Drums

The beating heart of numerous Prince songs, drummer Sheila E. joined his band in the '80s. In her memoir, The Beat of My Own Drum, she wrote she and Prince had been engaged.
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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Purple Rain (1984)

One of the most influential and brilliant albums of all time. Prince won two Grammys for this opus, which included "Let's Go Crazy," "I Would Die For You," "When Doves Cry," and the title ballad. He starred in the film by the same name (that was loosely based on his life), and earned an Oscar for Best Original Score. The movie was largely panned by critics, but it hit No. 1 at the box office in July 1985, making Prince the first artist ever to have the top film, album, and single at the same time.
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"Kiss" (1986)

Prince's cheeky song about smooching — sung in his inimitable falsetto — hit No. 1 in the U.S. and earned him another Grammy.
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"Nothing Compares 2 U" (1990)

Prince wrote the Sinead O'Connor single that turned her into a worldwide pop star (a reluctant one, it would turn out). He frequently performed the song live.
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Photo: Frank Micelotta Archive/ Getty Images.
MTV VMAs (1991)

Never one to shy away from nudity or anything remotely connected to getting freaky, Prince performed at the VMAs in a choice yellow suit...with pants that revealed his bare ass.
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Name Change (1993 to 2000)

In 1993, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph that, in combining the symbols for masculine and feminine, captured the androgyny that had always been a part of his public persona. He explained the decision in a 1999 interview with Larry King, saying, "I had searched deep within my heart and spirit and I wanted to make a change and move to a new plateau in my life." He went back to Prince in 2000.
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Muppets Tonight (1997)

Prince appeared on the '90s Muppet show, performing and allowing them to poke a little fun at his name change.
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Musicology (2004)

After a hiatus, Prince returned to form with Musicology. Many in the industry considered it a comeback and a return to form (an opinion that Prince did not share, as evidenced by this interview). The album hit No. 5 on the U.S. charts.
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Photo: Donald Miralle /Getty Images.
Super Bowl Halftime Performance (2007)

Prince was at his ecstatic best for the halftime show, sailing through a medley of his own hits ("Purple Rain," among them) as well as classics he put his own spin on ("Rolling On The River"). True to form, in one unforgettable shot captured on an enormous screen, he stood in profile, the swirl of his guitar at his crotch, looking like a giant you-know-what.