Prince Rogers Nelson died on April 21, 2016. Staffers found the musical icon’s lifeless body in an elevator at Paisley Park, his Minneapolis-area home compound and recording studio, where medical technicians pronounced him dead on the scene. Prince had last been seen alive the previous evening at around 8 PM.
That’s the part of Prince’s passing we all know. Of course, we also all know that the world will never fully recover from the loss of so towering a genius, but many of us still seem to be as shocked and reeling now as we were when the news first broke.
In part, that’s due to unanswered questions. If only we could learn exactly what elements and circumstances took Prince from us at the unthinkably young age of 57, perhaps, then, some closure could begin.
Alas, as music’s ultimate master of self-constructed mystery, Prince continues to confound and compel as only he ever could, even in death.
What follows here are questions we’ve all asked regarding the passing of Prince, along with the best answers we’ve found so far up to this minute.
What killed Prince?
This is the big one. So far, there’s no definitive answer—and it will be some time before there is one.
On April 22, the day after Prince died, Dr. A. Quinn Strobl of the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minnesota performed a four-hour autopsy on the performer’s body. The office then stated it will not release an official cause of death until it has conducted other elements of investigation—including toxicology reports, further laboratory tests of body elements, and interviews with people close to the deceased.
According to Dr. Quinn: “As part of a complete exam, relevant information regarding [Prince’s] medical and family history, will be gathered. Anything which could be relevant to the investigation will be taken into consideration.”
CNN reports that the full process could take “weeks or even months.”
Was Prince sick before he died?
According to the Fox Theatre in Atlanta where Prince was scheduled to play, he canceled April 7 show in Atlanta due to the flu. During his makeup performance on April 14, Prince joked to the audience about “being a little under the weather.”
On Saturday, April 16—Record Store Day—Prince visited the Minneapolis music shop Electric Fetus. Store employee Max Timander told The Press Association, “Everyone I’ve talked to on that Saturday said he looked kind of pale and he was not totally looking in the best shape as he normally is. It sounded like he was looking kind of weak. I know he had just got over the flu supposedly.”
In 2009, Prince himself revealed a secret health battle, saying, “I’ve never spoken about this before but I was born epileptic.”
Are drugs involved in the death of Prince?
Painkillers, in particular Percocet, have come up prominently in reports about Prince’s death investigation. Some sources believe Prince began using the prescription drugs to combat the agony of hip issues that resulted from decades of his costumes, high-heeled footwear, and energetic dance moves.
On the other hand, Prince’s long-time attorney and former manager L. Londell McMillan, who dealt with the star for 25 years, told the Associated Press said that the star “led a clean life” and was “not on any drugs that would be any cause for concern.” McMillan did not deny that Prince took medicine when ailments required treatment: “People use medication. The question is, are you on meds in a dangerous way?”
Did Prince overdose on drugs shortly before he died?
On the day he died, TMZ reported that Prince had been treated for an opioid overdose on April 15, after an emergency landing of his tour plane in in Moline, Illinois. The site claims Prince received a “save shot” of the opioid antidote Narcan, then spent a few hours in a hospital before returning home.
Was Prince addicted to painkillers due to hip problems?
Prince’s longtime collaborator Sheila E. told Entertainment Tonight that her friend absolutely suffered from hip problems, adding, “He was in pain all the time, but he was a performer.”
Entertainment Tonight co-host Kevin Frazier said on CBS This Morning: “People close to Prince tell me he struggled with painkillers due to his hip and ankle issues [that were] a problem for him for so long, and for a man who loved to move and dance so much, it really bothered him.”
The UK’s Mirror ran pictures of Prince walking with a cane and reported that the singer had secretly undergone double hip replacement surgery and that the process may have been complicated by his Jehovah’s Witness faith, which disallows blood transfusions.
Was Prince addicted to other drugs?
As of one week following his death, no medical evidence has been presented to back up any claims of Prince abusing drugs at all.
However, Michael Padden, a lawyer for Prince’s half-siblings Duane Nelson and Lorna Nelson, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the spoke often of their brother’s “substantial” drug problems not only with Percocet but, as of a decade ago, cocaine, as well. “Both were really concerned it would end his life prematurely,” the attorney added.
In addition, a drug dealer calling himself “Doctor D” told London’s Daily Mail that he supplied the star with extremely addictive Dilaudid pills and Fentanyl patches for “25 years.” On the other hand, “Doctor D” maintains that Prince “never shot or snorted cocaine.” Either way, an admitted drug dealer is hardly a reliable source.
The star’s brother-in-law, Maurice Phillips, who is married to Prince’s full-blooded sister Tyka Nelson, was quoted as saying: “He worked 154 hours straight. I was with him just last weekend. He was a good brother-in-law.”
Did Prince have a funeral service?
Prince’s family and closest friends held a low-key private ceremony. The singer’s body was cremated.
One attendee was quoted in the New York Daily News as saying, “He wanted it to be kept to the minimum of fuss. Prince was such figure you don’t need a funeral to remember him by,” a family friend said. “He wanted to simply disappear with no fuss, no drama, no fanfare. It was just his style.”
Indications exist that a large official public celebration of Prince’s life will be mounted in the near future.
What will become of Prince’s estate?
Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister reported that the star left no will and filed an emergency petition for the appointment of a special administrator to handle the fortune that is estimated to be as high as $250 million.
On April 27, a judge confirmed that Prince, in fact, did not have a will, and he approved Bremer Bank, with whom the singer had worked successfully for many years, to move forward with taking care of the estate.
As Prince had no children of his own and his parents are deceased, beneficiaries are expected to include Tyka Nelson, as well as Prince’s three half-sisters and four half-brothers.
Remember the musical legend by diving into the vault for his VERY FIRST televised interview in 1985.