Prince's estate paid tribute to him for his "gripping performance" as Prince's abusive dad in the singer's 1984 film.
The actor's other roles included ageing manservant Maynard in Lee Daniels' 2013 film The Butler.
Writing on Twitter, the director said he was an "extraordinary" actor who had been "ahead of his time".
Prince's drummer Sheila E also paid tribute, saying he had done an "incredible job" in Purple Rain and had been "one of the cool actors" she had watched on TV as a child.
Actress Kellie Martin was among others to remember him fondly, saying it had been "an honour" to work with him on the 2000s TV series Mystery Woman.