Texas Tech University

Prince's Influence on Music On Par with Duke Ellington, Miles Davis

Heidi Toth

April 21, 2016

The Grammy winning artist died Thursday at the age of 57.

Prince at Coachella (2008)

Christopher Smith, a professor of musicology at the Texas Tech University School of Music, is available to discuss Prince's life and the great influence he had on popular music throughout the world. Smith is director of the Vernacular Music Center and has taught musicology throughout the United States, Ireland and Great Britain. He researches American and African-American music, ethnomusicology topics and 20th-century music.

Christopher Smith, music professor and director of the Vernacular Music Center, (806) 438-5067 (cell), (806) 834-2775 (office) or christopher.smith@ttu.edu


  • “Prince Rogers Nelson is the most influential African-American contemporary musician since James Brown and Miles Davis, two of his significant influences and from whom he took a great view of musical influence. Along with George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince transformed the sound of contemporary African-American popular music and as a result the sound of global pop.”
  • “He is one of the authentic geniuses in American musical tradition.”
  • “He is the virtuoso, multi-instrumental, legitimate heir of guitar hero Jimi Hendrix, and again as a band leader he transformed the lives, careers and sound of American popular music. His death is an enormous, tragic, irreplaceable loss.”
  • “In my opinion Prince stands on a par with Duke Ellington and Miles Davis as authentic geniuses in music.”

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