Authorities in Minnesota were due to conduct an autopsy on Friday on the body of U.S. music superstar Prince, a day after the influential and genre-busting performer was found dead in his home at the age of 57.
The death of the eccentric and intensely private artist, whose hits included “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss,” shocked fans around the world, prompting outpourings of grief from devotees and glowing tributes by fellow musicians.
Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson, was found unresponsive on Thursday morning in an elevator at the Paisley Park Studios complex where he lived in the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen, according to the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office said it was investigating the circumstances of his death, and the local medical examiner’s office scheduled a post-mortem examination to begin on Friday morning.
“As part of a complete exam, relevant information regarding Mr. Nelson’s medical and social history will be gathered,” the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.
“Anything which could be relevant to the investigation will be taken into consideration.”
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 U.S. 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. After news of his death, up to a thousand of his fans danced the night away at the packed First Avenue club where “Purple Rain” was filmed in downtown Minneapolis.
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.
During his life, he was known as fiercely determined to protect his intellectual property. How well 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.
News of his death sparked an immediate bump in online sales of his music, with nine of the top 10-selling albums on iTunes belonging to Prince.
(Additional reporting by Jane Ross in Minneapolis, Alex Dobuzinskis, Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles, and Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Frances Kerry)