HOLLYWOOD — Whoopi Goldberg said it best, echoing the thoughts of many: “This is what it sounds like when doves cry.”
She was far from the only person to invoke the indelible song to pay tribute to legendary musician Prince after news broke of his death on Thursday.
The opening lines of another monster hit, “Let’s Go Crazy,” also seemed to fit the circumstances: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…”
Within minutes, Prince’s profile picture on Twitter changed to remove his trademark glasses and reveal his third eye. It was a fitting symbol as expressions of grief and tributes reverberated through the Twitterverse.
Shock and denial was a prevalent theme. Comedian and Prince superfan Chris Rock summed up what everyone was feeling: “Say it isn’t so.”
The owners of First Avenue, the downtown Minneapolis nightclub where Prince’s “Purple Rain” was filmed, decided to hold an all-night dance party in his honor after learning of the news. Owner Dayna Frank says the club wanted to give people a place to share their emotions and celebrate the star. The event was free.
In paying tribute to his artistry, Michelle Branch and many others shared a story that goes like this: “When Eric Clapton was asked how it felt to be the world’s best guitarist he replied: ‘I don’t know. Ask Prince.’ ”
Rapper Chuck D, a man of words, found himself speechless in response to the news: “It’s like the Earth is missing a note. Little to say — only thing to do is play.”
To many, he was more than an entertainer. He was an outsider who showed it was OK — better, even — to stand out.
President Obama also released a statement on his passing:
Today, the world lost a creative icon. Michelle and I join millions of fans from around the world in mourning the sudden death of Prince. Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.
“A strong spirit transcends rules,” Prince once said — and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band, and all who loved him.
Amid the grief were expressions of gratitude, pure and simple.
Radio stations across the country and Connecticut halted their regular lineups and played Prince songs to mark his death at the age of 57. And so did the cable channel once known as Music TeleVision — MTV.
At 1:57 p.m., the same hour the cable news channels confirmed Prince’s death, MTV cleared its schedule and started playing iconic Prince music videos like “When Doves Cry.”
The channel also changed its logo to purple.
It is unclear how long MTV plans to keep up the music video marathon. The channel did something similar after Michael Jackson died in 2009 and after Whitney Houston died in 2012.
Prince showed an “early understanding of the value of MTV” after the channel launched in 1981, according to “I Would Die 4 U,” a 2013 book about the artist.
“Early in MTV’s life, Prince saw that it would revolutionize music and lead people to interact with music differently,” the author Toure wrote. “Thus he leapt to capitalize not just with videos, but also with what was essentially a movie-length video,” the film “Purple Rain.”
Prince’s videos gave MTV valuable programming, and the telecasts helped raise Prince’s profile.