NEW YORK - The sudden death of music legend Prince sent shockwaves through social media on Thursday (April 21), as masses of Twitter users flooded the site to express their heart-felt emotions.
Actors, musicians and celebrities quickly jumped on social media, sending messages of sadness and tributes as news of the singer's death hit media outlets.
"'A strong spirit transcends rules,' Prince once said-and nobody's spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative," tweeted President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) on Thursday.
"Prince" became the top-trending term on Twitter worldwide shortly after his death was reported.
As of Thursday afternoon, his name had been tweeted more than 4 million times.
"He Changed The World!! A True Visionary," tweeted Madonna (@Madonna) "What a loss. I'm Devastated."
Celebrities around the globe used social media to highlight the singer and his influential, genre-defying music combining jazz, funk, R&B and disco.
Prince won seven Grammy awards and an Oscar.
Actor-singer Will Smith said in a Facebook post that he was "stunned and heartbroken", and had just spoken to Prince the night before his death. "Today, Jada & I mourn with all of you the loss of a beautiful poet, a true inspiration, and one of the most magnificent artists to ever grace this earth," he said.
Veteran R&B artist Lionel Richie said on Twitter: "I can't believe it, I'm in total shock. So many wonderful memories, I will miss him."
Prince first found fame in the late 1970s, and over the next three decades became known as one of the most inventive and eccentric forces in American pop music.
Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger mourned Prince as one of the most unique artists in decades as he voiced shock at his death on Thursday. "Prince's talent was limitless. He was one of the most unique and talented artists of the last 30 years," Jagger wrote on Twitter.
"Numb. Stunned. This can't be real," added pop star Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake).
"This is what it sounds like when doves cry. Prince R.I.P. Condolences to his family & 2 us all," tweeted Whoopi Goldberg actress and television personality (@WhoopiGoldberg).
"Prince the doves really are crying now. Listening to your music. Remembering you. #RIPPrince," tweeted Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah).
Rapper Lupe Fiasco, who was scheduled to perform in Minneapolis on Thursday night, encouraged concert-goers to wear purple in honor of the artist's iconic song Purple Rain. "We gone put on for Prince tonight!" tweeted Fiasco (@LupeFiasco).
Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson, was a beloved icon in his home state of Minnesota. Following the news of his death, the Minnesota Vikings National Football League team tweeted: "We've lost a legend way too soon." Prince recorded a song about the Minnesota Vikings, Purple And Gold, in 2010.
Some shared anecdotes about their encounters with the star, including photographer Donavan Freberg, who posted on Facebook about how his father, ad man Stan Freberg, convinced Prince to approve a commercial for a product called Prince Spaghetti, which parodied the singer, after lawyers had tried to stop the company using the artist's name.
Freberg wrote: "My dad FedExe'd him the commercial, along with a specially made box of spaghetti my dad got Prince (spaghetti) to make, just for Prince, called Purple Grain and Prince gave the go-ahead. The spot aired, with his blessing. He said he thought it was 'clever'."
Minnesota politicians also leapt on social media to mourn the state's beloved native.
Former Minnesota Governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura (@GovJVentura) tweeted: "What a day. Prince's legendary music will live on, but today is a huge loss for Minnesota. He was one of a kind."
Minnesota Congressman Erik Paulsen (@RepErikPaulsen) tweeted about the impact the artist had on his home state. "Prince was the first concert I ever went to," Paulsen tweeted from his verified Twitter account. "As talented as they come and a Minnesota treasure. He'll be missed."
Scores of fans gathered at Minnesota's Seventh Street on Thursday night to listen to local artists honouring Prince with covers of their favorite tracks.
Here are more tributes from Prince's friends, contemporaries and admirers: