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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Closing the Deal?; Music Legend Prince Dead at 57. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 21, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: death of an icon.
The sudden and shocking passing of music legend Prince, one of the world's most influential artists dead at the age of 57. We are learning new details of where he was when he was found, the dramatic efforts to save his life.
Emotional tributes. Fans, friends, fellow musicians around the world are all remembering Prince for his contributions to music and to his community. Now a statement from President Obama honoring the man he calls "one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time."
And closing the deal. Donald Trump saying he and his campaign, they are evolving and transitioning as he tries to lock up the Republican presidential nomination. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders returns to the campaign trail, undaunted by Hillary Clinton's seemingly insurmountable delegate lead. What impact will next week's primaries have on the White House race?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We are following the breaking news, the sudden death of the Grammy Award-winning musical artist Prince.
There's emotional reaction around the world tonight, new details just emerging. We now know Prince was unresponsive in an elevator at his recording studio near Minneapolis. His death comes just six days after his plane reportedly made an emergency landing in Illinois so he could be rushed to a hospital. He was released after several hours.
Earlier this month, his representative said Prince had been sick with the flu. But tonight the cause of the shocking death is a mystery.
We're also standing by to hear from Donald Trump, and he is holding a campaign rally later tonight in Pennsylvania, one of five states holding primaries next Tuesday. Trump is calling on rival Ted Cruz to drop out saying he's mathematically eliminated from the delegate race. The path also seemingly impossible for Bernie Sanders. But he is back on the campaign trail, launching new attacks on Hillary Clinton, while she's looking ahead, focusing in on trying to unite her party.
We are covering the breaking news, much more this hour with our correspondents, our guests, and our expert analysts.
Let's begin with CNN's Paul Vercammen. He's in Los Angeles for us.
Paul, Prince was only 57 years old. You're getting new information. What can you share with our viewers?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I'm here at Amoeba Music, where Prince is celebrated right now. They're playing his music over the speaker.
Let's give you a timeline as to the events today. It was at 9:43 in Minneapolis that sheriff's deputies responded to the 911 call. As you pointed out, it was at Prince's Paisley Park Studios. Upon arrival, they found a male unresponsive in an elevator. They then tried to administer CPR to no avail, despite repeated efforts to bring this male back to life. They failed. They then pronounced Prince Rogers Nelson dead at 10:07 Minneapolis time.
There is going to be an autopsy performed by the county coroner, but right now they're not releasing any cause of death. Back here at Amoeba Music, meanwhile, where die-hard fans have been coming in and snapping up Prince records, hundreds of dollars' worth of them at a time.
They're all fondly remembering the artist, saying how unique he was, how much he meant to them. And we should also note this is driving sales on iTunes. The number one, two, three, and four records right now are all Prince records -- back to you now, Wolf.
BLITZER: I suspect that will stay the case for awhile. Thank you very much, Paul Vercammen.
President Obama has released a statement on the death of Prince. The president says -- and I am quoting him now -- "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." The president concludes by saying this: "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his band and all who loved him."
CNN's Tom Foreman has now on Prince's legendary career.
Tom, the president notes his influence was clearly, really unbelievable. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's just no one else like him,
Wolf. He influenced a great many younger artists. A lot of the music you listen to today would not be that way if it were not for Prince. For almost 40 years, he has seemed vibrant and ever-changing. All the more reason his death is such a shock.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Prince was the perfect performer for his time, a blast of brilliance arising just as MTV and The Walkman were revolutionizing music. He had the sound, had the look, and he had a vision.
PRINCE, MUSICIAN: I learned early on this is what I wanted to do.
FOREMAN: For almost 40 years, he stayed in the vanguard of musical innovation. A fan says he captured his final performance in Atlanta only a week ago and posted it on Twitter.
And this is how it all ended, police and rescue workers at his studio in Minneapolis, stricken fans outside. Prince had not been well and his plane even had to land at one point for treatment. He spoke to some fans about it just a few days back.
MIKE RENDAHL, MINNESOTA: He talked about what happened and he said he was OK and he said don't waste your prayers on me right now. And, you know, wait a few days.
NARRATOR: Prince in his first motion picture.
FOREMAN: Like the character he played in his first movie, "Purple Rain," Prince Rogers Nelson came from Minneapolis, the son of a jazz pianist and a social worker. And he remain tied to the city.
LARRY KING, CNN: We don't think of all of L.A., Nashville, all these hot spot New York places. Minneapolis gets it done, too.
PRINCE: Minneapolis has always been involved. You don't have to go outside of that.
FOREMAN: But his influence was global. Prince produced more than a dozen top-charting songs, won seven Grammys, an Oscar.
Celebrity tributes are pouring in. Justin Timberlake: "Numb. Stunned." Katy Perry: "The world just lost a lot of magic." Whoopi Goldberg, "This is what it sounds like when doves cry."
Prince contributed songs to endless other acts and was renowned as a musical perfectionist, a virtuoso both composing and performing. But he was also noted for his personal humanity. Taking care of struggling friends and even contributing a song to Baltimore in the wake of the devastating riots.
Prince was endlessly prolific. His memoir was supposed to come out next year. As it is, he is gone at 57. Some of his final words on stage, "If I could, I would give you the world." (END VIDEOTAPE)
FOREMAN: Prince simply did it all, a dancer, singer, an arranger, a composer, a performer.
Many, many of the best guitar players in the world say if only I could play like Prince. That is the measure of the true genius of this man, a rarity in any industry. In music, we may never see anyone else like him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good point. Tom, thank you very much, Tom Foreman reporting for us.
Let's get some more on the breaking news.
Joining us now, our CNN anchor Don Lemon. Kerry Gordy is with us. He's the former executive vice president of Prince's company, Paisley Park. Also joining us, the former vice president and editorial director of "Ebony" and Jet" magazines, Bryan Monroe. He's also the former editor of CNNPolitics.com. He teaches now at Temple University in Philadelphia. And the writer and editor for NPR Music, Stephen Thompson.
To all of you, thanks very much for joining us.
Ryan, let me get back to you, because it was not long ago you went to Paisley Park, you sat down with him with a small group. You had a chance to listen to him, what, for at least an hour, go through some thoughts. Give us a thought he shared with you that still resonates.
BRYAN MONROE, FORMER EDITOR, CNN POLITICS: We had about an hour with him.
He was talking about the music industry. We heard Van Jones earlier talking how he got his catalog back, which is worth millions and millions of dollars. But that was after an 18-year struggle with the label. Now he was talking about music streaming, Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and how his current album he was going to release first on Jay-Z's label, Tidal, his streaming service, and how they had worked that deal, because he wanted to send a message to young artists that he called the music industry a slave trade.
He was very, very heated about how much they would take from the artist without giving much back and felt strongly about it, very passionate.
BLITZER: Did he seem healthy to you?
MONROE: He looked great. He was energetic. You see the smile on Prince's face, it is a contagious smile.
People talk about he has got a quirky side, but he was also really knowledgeable, knew the business, knew music. We talked earlier how talented he was as a musician. He could play guitar, he played drums, he played piano. He arranged pretty much all the songs we have heard, plus more span of time.
He worked with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis before they had a rough spot, but he knew music so well and knew the business.
BLITZER: He knew music well, he performed, he wrote music, he performed.
But, Kerry, you knew him as a boss. What was he like as a businessman?
KERRY GORDY, FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, PAISLEY PARK: It is really funny. As a businessman, like I said, he didn't do things for money.
He did things because he felt them in his soul. Like I said, when he was going today the bar mitzvah, he didn't want to do it for $10 million because it just wasn't cool. As a businessman, he would come up with all of these ideas. Each idea that he came up with was interesting.
Some of them were incredible and some of them were horrible. But the fact of the matter is, is that the ones that were incredible totally paid for all the ones that were horrible. But you couldn't stop him from doing the ones that were horrible, because the fact is you would never knew if that thing that was horrible was going to be incredible, because he was that much of a genius.
BLITZER: We heard Van Jones say, Kerry, he was also pretty religious, a Jehovah's Witness. Talk a little bit about that.
GORDY: OK. This is really funny.
After I finished working with him, one day, I get a knock on my door. I open the door, and it is Prince standing in front of my door with high-heeled shoes on, one red, one purple, one purple leg, one high heel -- I mean, one pink leg.
And looks at me and he goes, what are you doing there? And I said, I live here. He said, oh, my gosh. I was walking around the neighborhood and I just wanted to talk to you about becoming a Jehovah's Witness. And I said, oh, my God. So, yes, he was very religious in kind of a weird, quirky way, because I thought that he was religious in one sense, but in the other sense had all these girlfriends.
So I didn't know.
BLITZER: Interesting story.
Don Lemon, you were young when you first became influenced by his music and it stayed with you a long time, didn't it?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It certainly did, because it was something that you felt like you shouldn't be listening to, and that you were disobeying your parents. This was 1978. And I just remember listening to him in my room. My parents would
come in and say what are you listening to? My sister who was in college actually turned me to Prince. And we would listen to his music.
But Prince was -- I would say he was the first artist I knew that was completely emancipated. He was free. He was free. As Kerry has said in so many words, and Van Jones and Bryan, he was free to be himself and do what he wanted. He was an artist in the true sense. He wasn't about the machine, but he was definitely about the business and he was about the artistry. You could see that in his work, and the way he handled himself, and also he didn't care if the song was bad or that it didn't sell.
He just did his art. Whatever sold commercially, that was great. Whatever people artistically liked, that was great. If they didn't, he just sort of brushed it off, and he kept moving as an artist. And so that has stayed with me from the early days of 1978, the first album, "For You," up until the end.
BLITZER: Stephen, we have to take a break, but very quickly, his contribution to American culture, what stands out in your mind?
STEPHEN THOMPSON, NPR MUSIC: I think one of the things that stands out is a little bit what Don said, is that he was willing to try just about anything, he was willing to fail.
He was willing to put out weird sounding records. I would get this E.P. called "The Scandalous Sex Suite." You would put it on. And it sounded like what it says it was.
I just loved that constant element of surprise, and the way he was artistically and creatively unbound.
BLITZER: Everyone, stand by. We will continue the breaking news coverage, the sad news that Prince has died at the age of 57.
Let's listen to Prince.
BLITZER: More now on the breaking news, the death of legendary musical artist Prince. He was found unresponsive in an elevator at his recording studio near Minneapolis, the cause of death still unknown.
Officials say there will be an autopsy. It will be performed.
The co-founder of Earth, Wind, and Fire, Verdine White, joins us on the phone right now.
Verdine, thanks very much for joining us. Give us your reaction to Prince's death. I know it's a huge loss to
you, to millions of people around the world.
VERDINE WHITE, MUSICIAN: Well, needless to say, when I heard about it, I was in shock, like I'm sure everybody was, because he was a genius. He was one of a kind. And, of course, none of us expected it.
I was just talking about Prince last week with my good friend Paxton Baker. We were just talking about him last week and his influence on music. And he will be greatly missed and he just did so many great things musically, the artists that he discovered and that music he just brought on the scene from day one, from the day one.
BLITZER: Your good friend Paxton Baker, my good friend Paxton Baker, he is with us here our SITUATION ROOM studio right now. I want to bring him in. He is the former president of BET Productions, music industry producer.
Paxton, when you heard about this like all of us, you must have been stunned.
PAXTON BAKER, MUSIC INDUSTRY PRODUCER: Stunned.
More importantly than anything else is, he was such a helpful person, just amazingly a macrobiotic vegetarian. Health was incredible to him. That's a big part of who he was as a person. To hear it actually happen so young, 57 seems young now, was even more shocking. So, yes, very much so.
BLITZER: You saw him not that long ago with your friend Doug E. Fresh.
BAKER: Yes, a couple Junes ago. Had a wonderful evening. Literally talked for about five hours with him into the morning.
BLITZER: Really? This was after the BET Honors?
BAKER: BET Awards, BET Awards in L.A. two years ago.
BLITZER: What was it like?
BAKER: Mysterious. He was a very, very thoughtful person, very, very shy in his speaking, kind of like a quiet tone. You had to really kind of like reach over to listen to him to talk.
You mentioned earlier as far a him being Jehovah's Witness, extremely spiritual, deeply rooted in the Bible and could quote Scriptures literally off the top of his head, knew the Bible incredibly well. Helpful, didn't curse, something very meaningful about him, and just thoughtful.
BLITZER: Because that side of him, that religious side, vegetarian, knew the Bible, that didn't always come across when he was performing.
BAKER: No. No, that's for sure. It was kind of a whole circle for him.
And, as you know, at different points, he would kind of fade off the music scene and not really perform or be seen in public that much, and then kind of appear on the other side, and tour for a good stretch of time. Doug E. certainly knew him a lot better than I did. Doug E. opened for him many occasions, and was the one that kind of put us together.
But in talking with him, when you spent time with him one on one, very, very spiritual. Told me he pretty much talked to Larry Graham every day for an hour with them talking Scriptures with each other.
BLITZER: Really? Wow.
BAKER: Yes. Yes. So very much along those lines. Different personalities, but all the same person.
BLITZER: Verdine, Prince, often said Earth, Wind and Fire as his influence. He did so when he spoke at the British Hall of Fame in a speech there .
What does that mean to you that he would refer to Earth, Wind and Fire so often as a great influence on his music?
WHITE: You know, what a lot of people don't know, we shared the same management back in the days (INAUDIBLE) who his manager, as well as our manager.
And the Paisley Park Studios that he developed, he actually really got the prototype from my late brother Maurice's studios, the Complex, out in Los Angeles, which was sort of similar to Paisley Park.
And so the influence was there, and it was a great honor that Prince would still mention us and whatnot. He ran into Philip Bailey a few years ago. They had wonderful talk. So, you know, it was -- we all knew each other very well.
BLITZER: Kerry Gordy, you worked with him, you worked for him, you knew him well, you were part of the team that was so influential. Give us your sense of the impact he will have on American culture, on music around the world.
GORDY: Well, first of all, before I speak to that, I want to say that, Verdine, Prince was in awe of your bass playing.
WHITE: Oh, wow.
GORDY: He thought you were truly amazing, and, of course, I do, too. I just wanted to say that.
WHITE: Thank you. GORDY: With regard to his influence, I think it is massive. You
can't even say what it is.
All you can think about is, what would the world be like if there was never a Prince? Music would be different. People would not have the same -- the songs would not be the same, because his influence transcends everything. It goes all across the world.
I can't really say what it is, but I just know that the world would be a different place had not Prince existed.
BLITZER: Good point.
Don Lemon, I want to show our viewers the cover of next week's issue of "The New Yorker" magazine. It's a tribute to Prince. Talk a little bit about the legacy from your perspective how he influenced the music world.
LEMON: Wow. Look at that cover.
I just have to say everything he said, what Kerry just said. He impacted it in so many ways. I think that it is yet to be determined. We have so many artists who looked to him as a role model, Janelle Monae and on and on.
And as your previous guests were pointing out, how we he influenced women artists, how he took women artists under his wing. And I don't mean in a way where it was -- it was in a strictly platonic way, that he cared about the art, and cared about the female point of view and the female role in society, and how that needed to be expanded, and that they needed roles in the music industry. They needed a platform just as big as men, if not more so, because he really loved women, as you could see that.
As I said earlier, Prince never left home without a beautiful woman. And I respect him for that. And I love him for that. I just want to say, Wolf, as I am saddened to be here, I'm also very honored to be sharing this platform with the caliber of people who are here who knew Prince, and especially another musical genius like Verdine.
It is just -- it's an honor for me to be here.
WHITE: Thank you. Thank you.
BLITZER: We are thrilled that Verdine is with us as well.
But, Bryan, talk a little bit about the impact that he had not just on music, but on politics. He got involved on various issues over the years. And it was significant.
MONROE: Yes, it was interesting. As Van talked about earlier, because he was a Jehovah's Witness, there was a very delicate balance between political activity and trying to stand back and stay on the sidelines, but he was very much engaged in politics and presidential races.
He watched CNN, he knew what was going on, and was not detached from the whole process.
LEMON: Wolf,, can I jump in here and say something?
BLITZER: Go ahead, Don.
LEMON: He was a perfect example when I talk about being emancipated and being free. So as an artist, you may do certain things that you don't necessarily do in your personal life, or that people -- because this is an artist, that was his business.
But that didn't mean that that was the man that he was. He didn't wear his religion on his sleeve. True what it means to have a separate between church and state, this is me as an artist, this is what I do in my artistry, and this is who I am as a person.
Prince was -- and I didn't know him personally, but from all the accounts I have heard of Prince, he was a true gentleman. When someone says you're thoughtful, do you know what that means? Not many are thoughtful these days. Not very many people open doors. Not very many people say thank you or are gracious.
And that is an old-school trait. That's why I love Prince. You could hear that in his music, and you saw that in his respect for people and especially women.
BLITZER: You studied his music, Paxton, because you're an expert on music. You produced The Soul Train Awards all those years.
Did you see the music evolve over the years?
BAKER: Certainly evolved. To come back to a point a little bit made earlier, in addition, remember at one point he became a symbol and literally moved off the whole thing about being names, as far as about the whole thing about rights and being thoughtful, many times light years ahead, even as far as intellectual property, music rights and things like that, fighting for them for artists.
He did that on multiple occasions along the way. His music certainly evolved as far as the lyrics, the thoughtfulness, and what you hear from him. And certainly, like earlier on, it was a lot more racy and sexy, but as it grew, he became much more political and evocative on a wide array of different variety of subjects, and way beyond music or sexuality or sensuality, for sure.
BLITZER: All right, guys, hold on for a moment.
I want to take a quick break. We're going to have much more on the sad news. Prince unfortunately has passed away at the age of 57. Let's go to break with this Prince great song, "U Got the Look."
BLITZER: We are following the breaking news: the sudden shocking passing of music legend Prince, one of the world's most influential artists, dead at the age of 57. Officials say he was found unresponsive in an elevator at his recording studio near Minneapolis.
[18:34:51] His death comes just days after his plane reportedly made an emergency landing in Illinois so he could be rushed to a hospital. He was released after several hours.
Earlier this month, his representative said Prince had been sick with the flu. Tonight officials say an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
Let's get more with someone who knew Prince personally, very close to Prince, our CNN political commentator Van Jones. Van, I know this is a very, very sad day for you, especially. You were very close with him. You were just there at Paisley Park, his studio, outside of Minneapolis. Is that where Prince spent most of his time?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's where he spent his most creative time. But he was all over the world. He's all over. He loves being in Los Angeles. I am in L.A. right now. He loved to be here, as well.
The thing about Paisley Park is you walk in, you go down that hallway. And this is -- you know, love Prince, but he has not got a small ego. And you have to walk down this corridor that has every award. I mean, Grammys, MTV stuff. And, you know -- and that's your entrance into the building, OK? But it's a display of force, just to get in the building. This is the house of Prince.
And then you get to the end, and there's the motorcycle from Purple Rain. Don't touch it. Don't look at it too long; keep walking. But just in case you missed it, there is the motorcycle. OK?
So even the house -- and by the way, it was designed by him. He designed everything inside there. And you would open up each door. And in each door there was a theme of, you know, different parts of his life. And one door you opened up -- it goes in partially, then you step up. And I said what is this room about? He goes, "This is when I finally was able to get free from the music industry and be my own kind of artist."
He was always fighting for the right and freedom of artists. And not to make anybody mad at me, but he would be -- he was so mad at the technology companies for, quote, unquote, "stealing his music." He said, "Listen, I love Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs can't play the guitar. Why does Steve Jobs get my money. I don't understand, you know, iTunes and all that sort of stuff."
And he also, when Jay-Z began to create Tidal, you know, he said, "Listen, first" -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE). When Tidal had a couple problems, Prince went over to be helpful.
Prince wanted to help people. If he thought an artist was good but not great, he wanted that young artist become great. He was there. He had so much creativity, he could share it and still have enough left for him. And even his house showed that creativity.
BLITZER: Van, he wrote a protest song in honor of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore teen who died one week after suffering a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody. You played a very important part in Prince's visit to Baltimore at the time. Talk a little bit about that.
JONES: Well, Prince was very, very socially aware. I think people just kind of see him as just a musician, just an artist. He was someone who -- I mean, he watched the news like a fanatic. And he knew everything that was going on, and not just the United States, all around the world. You could talk to Prince for hours about world affairs, theology, philosophy.
Those lyrics are sitting on top of a dense amount of -- he could have been as famous as a theologian or a philosopher as he ever was as a musician. People don't know that.
And so when things would happen like Baltimore, he wanted to go. And his manager in the late years, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, comes out of the labor movement, African-American woman, an incredible leader. So she was able to help him go places like Baltimore. He went to Baltimore, and he performed.
His last words on the stage in Baltimore, he said, "I want to come back to Baltimore" -- and he was talking to young people there in Baltimore -- "and I want to come back to restaurants that you own, that you have built. I want to stay in a hotel you built." He tried to give those young people a creative vision, an economic vision for the future. Protest, yes, but also build things.
And we went to Chicago. We did three shows in Chicago to try to bring some peace there. And Prince insisted that all the major community organizations be invited, and we had the entire United -- U.A. Center with not with beer and that kind of nonsense. These are community- based organizations, because he wanted those community-based organizations to get the benefit of all those people coming in. They could sign up and help those groups. He was constantly thinking about stuff like that.
Also when it came to the technology, he wanted young African-Americans and Latinos, Native Americans, or white kids, he wanted the left-out kids to not just download apps. He wanted them to make their own apps, upload them. And so we created Yes, We Code together, YesWeCode.org. And they're now working with Twitter and Pinterest.
He never talked about this publicly. He would just make a little bit of a concert here, a concert there. Nobody had any idea how much behind the scenes he was working to engineer all of these programs, from solar panels in Oakland to Yes, We Code, going to Baltimore. He wasn't -- and imagine the creativity that goes in that music. That never cuts off, OK? So when he's thinking about politics, theology, religion, children, the poor, that same level of creativity and passion is flowing through everything. And he is the funniest guy alive.
[18:40:42] BLITZER: You obviously loved him.
JONES: Yes, you bet. BLITZER: And a lot of people did, and we will miss him. Let's take another quick commercial break. Let's play a little bit of "Little Red Corvette."
(MUSIC: PRINCE, "LITTLE RED CORVETTE")
[18:45:42] BLITZER: We're back with our guests as we discuss the musical, political and social impact of the musician Prince who died today at the age of 57. You're looking at live pictures coming in from his studio outside Minneapolis.
You know, Stephen, as prolific as he was, we understand there was a lot of music that still is hidden, if you will, that hasn't been released.
STEPHEN THOMPSON, WRITER/EDITOR, NPR MUSIC: Yes, when I became a Prince fan in the 1980s, one of the myths surrounding him was that he had this gigantic vault of music. It was referred to as the vault, that had 400, 500 song, that they were all amazing. As a fan, you just dreamed of this almost infinite bounty of Prince music.
And once he was liberated from his label deal, even as he was being liberated from that label deal, some of that stuff that was trickled out, he put out albums from the vault, and stuff like that.
But I remember one of his first, if not the first release he put out once he was an independent artist was a set called "Crystal Ball" that had something like 64 songs on it, four CDs. And I remember just getting this mammoth collection of music, like somebody had opened a fire hydrant of Prince music.
So, you know, I would imagine there would be this pipeline of Prince music long after he is gone.
BLITZER: You know music, Pax, and you produced the BET Soul Train Awards for years, how valuable is all of that music, that's in that vault?
PAXTON BAKER, FORMER PRESIDENT, B.E.T. PRODUCTIONS: Amazingly so. For Prince fans, literally, you'll get a flow of music for a long time to come.
BLITZER: He had such enormous impact on so many great artists.
BAKER: For sure. Please don't forget the fashion impact.
BLITZER: Talk a bit. You have nice fashion yourself.
BAKER: Prince, Michael Jackson, they're like giants of fashion. He influenced fashion in a wide array of ways, from pants, jackets, clothing, glasses, you know, the three-eye glasses, like the part that's blind in the mind that needs to open up and see, but no, an incredible icon influenced a wide array of styles for sure.
BLITZER: You can testify, you've known him for a long time as well. You spoke with him a year ago.
BRYAN MONROE, FORMER V.P. & EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, EBONY & JET MAGAZINES: In August, we were able to talk with him. It's interesting he had this interesting relationship with technology. He didn't like a lot of it.
BLITZER: He thought they were stealing his music.
MONROE: Yes, in fact, when we were there at Paisley Park, strict rule, no cell phone. You won't see a selfie, a picture out of that. Even when we sat down, did the interview.
BLITZER: So, you had to leave the cell phone outside?
MONROE: No, you we had to leave the cell phone either at the bus or hotel, he was that serious. Even the band in Baltimore, Ben and I and April Ryan from AUR Network, they were back stage. The bouncers in Baltimore had strict rules. They saw you pull out a cell phone to take a picture or video, not only would they confiscate the phone, they would throw you out. They would throw people out for having cell phones.
BLITZER: So, who owns all that music that's in that vault right now.
MONROE: It is Prince and his estate. You know, I am sure he set up an estate plan, probably has a will. We'll find out in days and weeks to come. But there's going to be an enormous amount of music, enormous amount of his soul that would come out.
BLITZER: He was supposedly working on a memoir. I don't know if --
BLITZER: Yes, it was supposed to come out in a year. You heard about it?
THOMPSON: Yes, I believe it is coming out next year.
MONROE: He was about a month into it.
THOMPSON: Yes, we have been talking about Prince's legacy as a man, as a performer. I also just feel like I was a kid when I got into Prince. I was 11, 12, 13 years old. I grew up in a small town in the middle of Wisconsin.
And the models that you had of rebellion in music, for me at least in a small town, it was very like rock and roll. It was a very specific and I think kind of narrow thing, and one of the things that Prince brought out for me was just a different face of rebellion, and a playful kind of rebellion. I mean, obviously, it was very sexy kind of rebellion. But it just wasn't typical. But it didn't feel like anything I had seen or heard before.
[18:50:00] MONROE: The sound they had. His guitar sound. You heard the keyboard sound, his percussion. Those are so unique and such a signature sound that nobody ever, ever can top that of. THOMPSON: And it hasn't aged a day.
MONROE: Not a day.
THOMPSON: That's what blows me away.
BLITZER: You agree, Paxton.
BAKER: I agree. You mentioned Earth, Wind and Fire. One of his other influences was Miles Davis.
BLITZER: Who influenced him.
BAKER: Yes, for sure.
BLITZER: It was a generations of music that influenced him but he took it to a different level.
THOMPSON: Absolutely. Unique. It was his twist on it.
BAKER: And man, was he funky.
THOMPSON: Yes. I agree.
BLITZER: Stand by, guys. We're going to continue to take a look back at this amazing, amazing legend. Let's listen to "1999."
[18:55:24] BLITZER: Breaking news we're following. The music legend Prince is dead at the age of 57. The cause is still a mystery. Tonight, his body was found in an elevator in a studio. There will be an autopsy.
We're back with our panel.
You know, I want to play a statement that Prince made, Brian, last year at the Grammys. As you know, he won, what, seven Grammys, nominated multiple times.
But listen to what he said last year at the Grammys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE, MUSIC LEGEND: Albums still matter. Like books and black lives, albums still matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You remember that when he made that statement. Black Lives Matter.
MONROE: He was so important about the music and the albums and the structure. The narrative an album has. You know, with streaming, with artists getting 1/10 of one penny for as long as being played. That bothered him a lot on a creative level.
BLITZER: He won an Academy Award too, Paxton. I'm just looking, 1985, best original song score, won the academy award for "Purple Rain." arguably, what, his most famous song?
BAKER: Arguably his most famous song but one of the greatest movies and not just African-American genre, but from a cult classic perspective, as an actor, writer, arranger, producer, and then, of course, "Batman" on the other side, as well.
BLITZER: Yes, I mean, he had an enormous amount of influence. Historians are going to -- they have already written about him, but they're now going to write even more.
THOMPSON: Yes, I mean, they're going to dig through the incredible catalog and I hope the one thing none of us lose sight of is just the sense of playfulness and the sense of fun. When I go home tonight and really dig into Prince's music, one of the first things I'm going to watch is the 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, where it just had this sense of bigness and playfulness and a little bit of dirtiness. And it was silly and it was fun.
So, like he had -- this incredible musical ability, but he channeled it the service of joy.
BLITZER: You know, the words today seemed pretty mild. But remember at the time, Tipper Gore, she started a whole organization to sort of parental guidance for these -- you remember that.
MONROE: Yes, the PMRC. And he was --
BLITZER: Parents Music Resource Center.
MONROE: Exactly. And, you know, his language and his videos -- remember the one video, he had the exposed butt cheek. And -- but -- he was playful. He liked to play on the edges, too. And some of his stuff may have crossed over a little bit. But that's OK. That's what you've got to do.
BLITZER: You remember those days.
BAKER: I remember those days. But the other part is the musicians who knew him, everybody who knew him loved him. And the musician and friends, he had Dougie French, (INAUDIBLE), Phillip Bailey, so many people who knew him loved him. He always made time --
BLITZER: Is that unusual in the music business? Because you worked with all of these artists, producing all of those Soul Train Award specials.
BAKER: For sure. A lost lot of great relationships, but he was at the top.
MONROE: He knew everything. Every note.
BAKER: Talk music. BAKER: And the studio, he had a stage where --
MONROE: Oh, yes, a big sound stage. I was there.
BLITZER: Tell us about it.
MONROE: You come in, go to the left. Probably holds 1,000 people easily. He brought his guitar out --
BLITZER: He did his rehearsals there?
MONROE: He did some of the rehearsals. And you go to the left and there is a reception area, where you're almost in a mini club that had these giant sound stage doors that opened up to main stage. And then you go around another small door and that takes you down -- Van talked about that hallway of awards and plaques and gold records and platinum records. And then you come up the stairs to another part. And it just keeps unveiling itself.
BLITZER: We were showing pictures -- live pictures of Paisley Park, his studio, estate. What's going to happen to it now, without Prince?
THOMPSON: I mean, I would imagine it's at least a possibility -- I don't have any inside information, but I would imagine the possibility of turning it into a museum, making it something that people can visit in order to celebrate his life and celebrate his music. I hope that -- I would imagine it will be. But I hope it will be preserved and appropriately treasured.
BLITZER: I assume it will be. Don't you think, Paxton?
BAKER: I would think so. But he would want people to use his gear.
MONROE: Yes, that was a working stage. They shot commercials on that set and everything.
BLITZER: His legacy. What's going to be the major point of his legacy?
MONROE: His music, his heart, his playfulness. And that -- there will be no other Prince.
THOMPSON: That's right.
MONROE: He was a one in a million.
BLITZER: Well said.
Guys, thanks very, very much. Once again, our deepest, deepest condolences to his family, to all of his friends. A huge, huge loss.
The music legend, Prince, dead at 57.
Thanks very much for watching. CNN's breaking news coverage on the death of Prince continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."