Prince, the legendary label-defying musician whose death at 57 was confirmed on Thursday, was many things: an icon of music, a voice against corporate strength, the patron saint of the Minneapolis art scene.
In 1984, when TIME interviewed the artist about the release of Purple Rain, his co-star Apollonia asked Prince a question that stumped him: "Is there anything you can't do?"
His eventual answer was something of a throwaway—"Anything I can't do? Yeah. I can't cook."—but it was still revealing. His aura of supreme confidence was just one of the many things that made Prince stand out.
And his confidence was well-earned, even so early in his career, as TIME summed up:
There would be no question of just skipping to the highlights: since 1978, when Warner Bros. Records released his first album when he was 17, for Prince it has been highlights all the way. For You was not the hottest seller in the stores, but the fact that Prince had written, produced and played all the instruments on his first effort got the press making comparisons to Stevie Wonder. There were four more albums and a wonderful grab bag of singles like When You Were Mine and Little Red Corvette. Now there is Purple Rain, a No. 1 sound-track album with a No. 1 single, When Doves Cry, that is the first song since Billie Jean to reach the top slots simultaneously on the pop, black and dance charts. Purple Rain had already sold nearly 2.5 million copies before the movie was released last Friday. This is serious business. So is the movie, a short-circuited psychodrama that grafts snazzy performance footage onto the fictive fever chart of an angst-ridden musician called The Kid and played by Prince himself. The movie has been pulling down real tub-thumper reviews, the sort of hot-seat hype that gives some indication of the way Prince can generate fever and keep the temperature high.
Read the full interview with Prince from 1984: His Highness of Haze