UPDATED, 1:15 PM: Music icon Prince died from a self-administered overdose of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller. Minnesota authorities confirmed today. The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office released its autopsy report on the musician Thursday, citing cause of death from accidental fentanyl toxicity. The coroner’s news release said that office would have no further comment, but the Carver County Sheriff’s Office will continue its investigation into how Prince got the drugs.
PREVIOUSLY, April 21: Prince, the prolific and influential musical icon who won an Oscar for Purple Rain, died today at his Paisley Park home in Chanhassen, MN. He was 57. No cause of death was given, but the multiple Grammy-winning musician and filmmaker last week was reported to be suffering from the flu and was taken to a hospital.
His publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, confirmed Prince’s death not long after police and medical staff were called to the star’s estate today. The Carver County Sheriff’s Department said he was found unresponsive in an elevator, and first responders were unable to revive him.
Having released nearly 40 studio albums over his multi-decade career, the influential superstar recently announced he was working on a memoir with the working title The Beautiful Ones. The book was set to be published by Spiegel & Grau. Prince’s first album was 1978’s For You, and his most recent discs, HITnRUN Phase One and Two, came out in late last year.
As well as starring in Albert Magnol’s groundbreaking 1984 film Purple Rain, Prince won a Best Original Score Oscar at the 57th Academy Awards for the film. Prince also appeared on the big screen in 1986’s Under The Cherry Moon, the 1987 concert film Sign O’ The Times and 1990’s Graffiti Bridge — all of which he directed. He also wrote and performed “Batdance,” the chart-topping theme song for Tim Butron’s Batman (1989).
In early 2014, Prince showed up on Fox comedy New Girl as himself.
Notorious for his battles in the early 1990s with his then-label Warner Bros. Records as well as fighting hard to keep his music from being pirated online, the Minneapolis-born Prince experimented with many genres and personas over the years. In 1993, he changed his name to an unpronounable symbol. The multi-instrumentalist won a Golden Globe in 2007 for “The Song of the Heart” from the Happy Feet soundtrack. In 2015, Prince surprised many when he showed up at the Golden Globes to present the award for Best Original Song.
Mysterious, shy, funny and known for his musical innovation and virtuosity and mind-blowing live shows, Prince Rogers Nelson was one of the top-selling acts of the 20th century. He had five No. 1 singles — including two from Purple Rain, “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” — and four No. 1 albums, including the soundtrack to that film, which topped the Billboard 200 for 24 weeks. In 2011, he did a nearly monthlong “residency” in Los Angeles; most of the shows were at the cavernous Forum, but also played two at the tiny Troubadour in West Hollywood.
Also revered as a songwriter, several of his songs became big hits for other artists including Sinead O’Connor (“Nothing Compares 2 U”), the Bangles (“Manic Monday”), Chaka Khan (“I Feel for You”) and Shiela E. (“The Glamorous Life”). Among the many other stars who recorded his songs include Foo Fighters, Cyndi Lauper, Alicia Keys and Tom Jones.