How did Prince die? Autopsy performed on US music legend

  • Reuters
  • Updated: Apr 22, 2016 23:31 IST
A crowd pays tribute to Prince inside First Ave where "Purple Rain" was filmed late Thursday, April 21, 2016 in Minneapolis. (AP)

An autopsy on US music superstar Prince on Friday sought to determine why the innovative performer died, but authorities cautioned it could take weeks before the results are made public.

The intensely private musician, whose hits included “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry,” was found dead at his home in suburban Minneapolis on Thursday at the age of 57, shocking millions of fans around the world and prompting glowing tributes by fellow musicians. The local Carver County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the circumstances of his death, and Sheriff Jim Olson was due to hold a news conference at 3 pm (4 pm ET, 2000 GMT). Olson’s spokesman cautioned, however, that the investigation was ongoing and that the sheriff may be unable to answer the most pressing questions.

The influential star, born Prince Rogers Nelson, was found unresponsive in an elevator at the Paisley Park Studios complex where he lived in the suburb of Chanhassen, authorities said. The local medical examiner’s office began carrying out a post-mortem examination on Friday morning but said its results could be some time coming.

“As part of a complete exam, relevant information regarding Mr. Nelson’s medical and social history will be gathered. Anything which could be relevant to the investigation will be taken into consideration,” the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.

No information will be released until all results have been obtained, it added. “Gathering the results will take several days and the results of a full toxicology scan could likely take weeks,” the statement said.

The autopsy was being conducted by the office’s chief medical examiner, forensic pathologist A. Quinn Strobl.

Prince’s music blended styles including rock, jazz, funk, disco and R&B, and it won him seven Grammy Awards as well as an Oscar. He had been on a US tour as recently as last week.


But he was briefly hospitalized a week ago after his plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, suffering from what his representative told celebrity news website TMZ was flu.

Nevertheless, the star hosted a party at Paisley Park last Saturday night at which one attendee said Prince played two tunes on a piano and then introduced fans to his doctor.

Prince first found fame in the late 1970s before becoming one of the most inventive forces in American pop music.

As well as singing and songwriting, he played multiple instruments including guitar, keyboards and drums. A Jehovah’s Witness and a strict vegan, he sold more than 100 million records and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Record producer LA Reid told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday that he was perplexed by the death of his friend.

“The thing that really bothers me about it is the Prince I know was super-healthy, vegan, wasn’t an abuser of drugs, wasn’t an abuser of alcohol,” Reid said. “He was clean and he looked young and he looked really healthy and vibrant, so the whole thing is really mysterious to me.”

During his life, Prince was known as fiercely determined to protect his intellectual property.

How others might profit from his legacy hinges on how astute he was about arranging for control of his music after death. Twice divorced with no surviving children, he apparently lacked any immediately identifiable heirs.

Ex-wife Manuela Testolini said that as well as being a husband and friend, Prince had been a “fierce philanthropist” who encouraged her to set up her own charity. She had contacted him only a few days ago, she added, to tell him she was building a school in his honor.

“His passing leaves me with such a devastating feeling of pain and loss,” Testolini said in a statement on Friday. “I will always love and respect him. I am heartbroken beyond words.”

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