05/06/2016 11:09 EDT | Updated 05/07/2017 05:12 EDT

Prince: The Tragic Death Of A Strange Genius

Kevin Winter via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Musician Prince speaks onstage during the 2015 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

It really hit me hard when I heard the news that Prince had died, and I've been wondering why it upset me so much. I felt the loss as though he was someone I knew personally; someone important to me. I imagine other people have been feeling similarly. This was an artist so beloved by so many different types of people; from the creative avant-garde to his hometown folks in Minnesota.

In thinking about what it was that made people love him so much, I came to the conclusion that it was because he was completely and utterly himself. He was always authentic to his vision and unafraid to do things exactly his way. He was someone who was truly free.

I loved the way he turned gender stereotypes on their head. He wore eyeliner, lace, crop tops and high heels. Often, he dressed prettier than me. He played a great game of basketball... in his high heels! He flaunted his sexiness in exactly the way some women do. And yet, women loved him, and married him. And men were comfortable around him. This was an interesting guy.

And of course, there was the talent. His music always captured the energy and spirit of the moment so brilliantly. His songs have held up over time, becoming anthems for our youth. We will always be singing, "Raspberry Beret," "Little Red Corvette," "Lose Control," "1999," and "Purple Rain." They're so powerfully associated with their time, and yet these songs are timeless.

At a time when music is growing ever more boringly formulaic, Prince was an original, writing and performing in exactly the way he wanted. When he was unhappy with the direction in which his label was trying to push him, he gave up his name for a time and became represented first by an unpronounceable symbol, and then by the name, "The artist formerly known as Prince." You've gotta love the guy, if only for doing that.

In losing Prince, the world has lost not just a brilliant artist and performer, not just a devoted friend, family member and colleague; we've lost another wonderful weirdo, and in these days of mass conformity, this is a true tragedy. There are far too few inspiring oddballs and eccentrics around these days, and that's incredibly sad.

It's weirdos like Prince who fill the world with all the crazy colours in their head and invite us into their dreams, taking us along on a wild adventure where we get to explore ideas and images that we never would have considered in our ordinary lives. These strange people give the rest of us permission to embrace our own weirdness, and perhaps, to express our own oddball creativity.

Oh Prince, you've died much too soon. We'll never forget your passion, your daring, your creative genius and your magical voice filling your music with whispers, growls and screams. You were one of a kind. We will all miss you very much.

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