He was influenced by a wide variety of musical artists from Joni Mitchell to James Brown. He was a brilliant musician and he churned out music which had a unique magic to it.
When Prince started, he expressed his hedonistic philosophy with the latest synth sounds in a style of his own. He added a band (to take it on the road) and post-punk touches of early 80s culture and produced Dirty Mind - raw and yet funky with even more confidence shining through.
This developed into a bigger, new synth-led pop which attracted world-wide interest and Prince became the leader of a musical movement creating his own purple, shiny world. It got bigger still and more and more innovative, producing classic albums like Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day and Parade. No-one else produced sounds like him.
And then he dropped the band from his recordings - written, performed and produced by Prince (no Revolution) and while the old magic was still there, to me, it felt like Prince had made a slightly backwards move and the freshness of the band was missing. Sign O The Times was his first (be it small) step down-hill for me. The greatness was still there he but was heading in the wrong direction (starting to do things like distort his brilliant voice with speeded up vocals!?).
Sign O The Times has got some great songs on it (The Ballad of Dorothy Parker is one of my favourite Prince songs), Starfish & Coffee, If I Was Your Girlfriend, Strange Relationship, Sign O The Times itself but Prince was starting to get lost in his own little purple world.
After this album he went further still (Lovesexy!?) and his material became stranger and yet at the same time safer/duller. Gradually each album got further and further out of touch (reflected in his sense of fashion) and Prince became a victim of his own success. Lost in a musical world of Prince perfection at Paisley Park studios it became more and more difficult for the rest of us to relate to him until he eventually lost his name and went on to produce nothing but bland, middle-of-the-road pop.
Prince had something very special (which most of this album captures) and its a shame that the old magic seems to have gone. This album was a Sign O The Times in his own life.