Whitney, Michael, Bowie ... now Prince?

Songs you didn't know Prince wrote
Songs you didn't know Prince wrote

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    Songs you didn't know Prince wrote

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Story highlights

  • These four performers defined pop music, style and fashions of the '80s
  • Bowie, Jackson, Prince, Houston color the memories of kids who grew up in that decade

(CNN)If you grew up in the '80s, you probably have a childhood memory related to Prince that came rushing back when the news of his death broke.

Maybe it was a moment at a Prince concert, or seeing his wild music videos for the first time on MTV, or how you once thought his song "Little Red Corvette" was really about the car.
    Then you may have realized not too long ago, you were flooded with similar emotions about David Bowie ... Whitney Houston a few years earlier ... and Michael Jackson in 2009. (Wow, it doesn't seem that long ago.)
    These artists' music, style and personalities defined the 1980s -- you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing one of their songs.

    Michael Jackson

    You didn't have to be a child of the '80s to understand the impact of Jackson's untimely death at age 50.
    Shortly after his passing on June 25, 2009, pop star Justin Bieber, who was born in 1994 (more than a decade after "Thriller" was released), expressed shock and sadness to his millions of Twitter followers:
    This week's news of Prince's death at 57 (that's how old Jackson would have been now) not only stirred up memories of the famous rivalry between the two ...
    ... it also left some wondering if the musical icons have made peace in the afterlife.

    Whitney Houston

    It was no secret that Houston struggled with addiction problems, but this amazing singer's death on February 11, 2012, still shocked the entertainment world and her legions of fans. She was 48.
    Sadly, Houston's only child, Bobbi Kristina, died three years later in a similar way as her mother.

    David Bowie

    It's only been three months since the world lost Bowie, who had just released a new album and whose battle with cancer remained unknown to his fans until his death.
    Bowie's musical career spans well beyond the 1980s, but his influence on the decade is unmistakable. That's when his edgy songs and magical performances inspired the MTV generation and created a new cadre of fans.

    Prince

    And now in April, we are still processing the news of Prince's death. It's the same grief process but somehow feels different.
    Sure, there were some reports he wasn't feeling great -- but didn't he just throw an all-night dance party and then ride around town on his bike?
    As the reports swirl about how Prince died, and his songs flood the radio and MTV airwaves once again, '80s kids can only wonder if their parents felt like this when Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley and other musicians met their untimely deaths.