Prince, the iconic singer, producer, songwriter and consummate showman made even more famous when he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol for a brief period, was found dead at his Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minnesota, on Thursday. He was 57.
By Thursday evening, TMZ reported the singer was treated for a drug overdose just six days before his death, according to multiple sources.
In early April, Prince Rogers Nelson, known simply as Prince, said he wasn’t feeling well, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and canceled at least one concert in the city.
Some days later, he took the stage in Atlanta to perform. After that concert, the singer’s plane made an emergency landing to take him to the hospital with what a representative said was the flu.
He was treated for three hours at the Moline, Illinois, area hospital and then released. Prince later told fans he felt fine, but one source said at the time of the hospital treatment the superstar was “not doing well,” the Daily Mail reported.
But according to TMZ, “Multiple sources in Moline tell us, Prince was rushed to a hospital and doctors gave him a ‘save shot’ … typically administered to counteract the effects of an opiate.
“Our sources further say doctors advised Prince to stay in the hospital for 24 hours. His people demanded a private room, and when they were told that wasn’t possible … Prince and co. decided to bail. The singer was released 3 hours after arriving and flew home.”
On Thursday, a forensics team and medical examiner responded to his home, and members of the Carver County Sheriff’s Department confirmed there had been a death.
Aretha Franklin speculated in an interview on MSNBC that Prince died because of Zika.
“But, you know, they’re saying flu-like symptoms. I’m wondering if it had anything to do with this Zika virus,” said Franklin.
“Yeah, this is a scary thing for a guy who was last reported to be suffering from the flu, and then suddenly for this very healthy individual,” said Brian Williams. “He was a vegan, he was a fitness buff, he was a dancer, he was physically very fit.”
The Carver County Sheriff’s Office said Prince was found in an elevator at Paisley Park. They performed CPR, but were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead on the scene at 10:07 a.m. Central Time. The Star Tribune reported that an autopsy was scheduled for Friday.
The musician, born in Minneapolis, had a stellar career that included 39 studio albums. The 1984 “Purple Rain” was perhaps his best-known; it spawned a movie of the same name. His net worth was reportedly over $300 million.
His 1982 album “1999” proved his breakout work, and the one that brought him international acclaim. He later racked up seven Grammys for several blockbuster hits and performed at the Super Bowl in 2007 in what many considered one of the best halftime shows ever.
Prince, who changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993 to express frustration with his record label, Warner Bros., sold more than 100 million albums and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for “Purple Rain” in 1985.
In 2000, after the media had been habitually referring to him as “the artist formerly known as Prince,” he changed his symbol name back to Prince, around the same time his contract with Warner Bros. expired.
Prince’s Top 10 hits included “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Kiss” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” His songs also became hits for others, among them “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinead O’Connor, “I Feel for You” for Chaka Khan and “Manic Monday” for the Bangles.
The singer’s predilection for controversial lyrics earned him the nickname, His Royal Badness.
“Darling Nikki,” a song that details a one-night stand, prompted the formation of the Parents Music Resource Center. Led by Al Gore’s then wife, Tipper, the group encouraged record labels to place advisory labels on albums with explicit lyrics.
Just last month Prince revealed he was penning a memoir titled “The Beautiful Ones” to be published next year.
Twitter exploded with news of his death.
“I can’t believe that Prince has died,” tweeted musician Billy Idol of the prolific pop singer. “He was a great great talent … RIP.”
“Numb. Stunned. This can’t be real,” tweeted Justin Timberlake.
Director Spike Lee shared a photo of himself and Prince on Instagram and wrote, “I Miss My Brother. Prince Was a Funny Cat. Great Sense of Humor.”
“‘A strong spirit transcends rules,’ Prince once said – and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative,” President Obama tweeted.
“Unbelievable just heard about PRINCE. Strength and light to his family/loved ones. One of my favs and a true pioneering artist. RIP brotha,” tweeted Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“I’m still in shock as I write this and I feel this overwhelming grief,” added musician Justin Timberlake on Instagram. “But, we should all turn away from that and HONOR this musician that changed all of our lives, our perspectives, our feeling, our whole being. […] They say don’t meet your idols… That they let you down. But, some of my greatest, funniest (yes, he was hilarious), and most prolific encounters and conversations about music came from the moments that I spent with him.”