Born: June 7, 1958
Place of Birth: Minneapolis, MN
Death: April 21, 2016
Place of Death: Chanhassen, MN
Zodiac Sign: Gemini
Other Names: Alexander Nevermind, The Artist, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (TAFKAP), Christopher Tracy, Jamie Starr, Joey Coco, Tora Tora, The Kid
Career and Life
Prince Rogers Nelson was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. With a career spanning four decades, Prince was known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, extravagant fashion sense and use of makeup, and wide vocal range. A multi-instrumentalist, he was considered a guitar virtuoso and was also skilled at playing the drums, percussion, bass, keyboards, and synthesizer. Prince pioneered the Minneapolis sound, which is a subgenre of funk rock with elements of synth-pop and new wave, in the late 1970s.
Prince was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and developed an interest in music as a young child; he wrote his first song, "Funk Machine", at the age of seven. He signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records at the age of 17, and released his debut album For You in 1978. His 1979 album Prince went platinum, and his next three albums—Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and 1999 (1982)—continued his success, showcasing his prominently explicit lyrics and blending of funk, dance, and rock music. In 1984, he began referring to his backup band as The Revolution and released Purple Rain, the soundtrack album to his film debut. It quickly became his most critically and commercially successful release, spending 24 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 and selling over 20 million copies worldwide. After releasing the albums Around the World in a Day (1985) and Parade (1986), The Revolution disbanded, and Prince released the double album Sign o' the Times (1987) as a solo artist. He released three more solo albums before debuting The New Power Generation band in 1991.
In 1993, while in a contractual dispute with Warner Bros., he changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol (Logo. Hollow circle above downward arrow crossed with a curlicued horn-shaped symbol and then a short bar), also known as the "Love Symbol," and began releasing new albums at a faster rate to remove himself from contractual obligations. He released five records between 1994 and 1996 before signing with Arista Records in 1998. In 2000, he began referring to himself as "Prince" again. He released 16 albums after that, including the platinum-selling Musicology (2004). His final album, Hit n Run Phase Two, was first released on the Tidal streaming service on December 2015. Four months later, at the age of 57, Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Prince's innovative music integrated a wide variety of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, new wave, soul, psychedelia, and pop. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award for the 1984 film Purple Rain. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Rolling Stone ranked Prince at number 27 on their list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Prince saw Michael T. Schulenberg, a Twin Cities specialist in family medicine, in Excelsior on April 7, 2016, and again on April 20. On April 7, Prince postponed two performances at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta from his Piano & A Microphone Tour; the venue released a statement saying he had influenza. Prince rescheduled and performed his final show on April 14, even though he still was not feeling well. While flying back to Minneapolis early the next morning, he became unresponsive, and his private jet made an emergency landing at Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois, where he was hospitalized and received Narcan. Once he became conscious, he left against medical advice. Representatives said he suffered from dehydration and had influenza for several weeks. Prince was seen bicycling the next day in his hometown of Chanhassen. He shopped that evening at the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis for Record Store Day and made a brief appearance at an impromptu dance party at his Paisley Park recording studio complex, stating that he was feeling fine. On April 19, he attended a performance by singer Lizz Wright at the Dakota Jazz Club.
On April 20, 2016, Prince's representatives called Howard Kornfeld, a California specialist in addiction medicine and pain management, seeking medical help for Prince. Kornfeld scheduled to meet with Prince on April 22, and he contacted a local physician who cleared his schedule for a physical examination on April 21. On April 21, at 9:43 am, the Carver County Sheriff's Office received a 9-1-1 call requesting that an ambulance be sent to Prince's home at Paisley Park. The caller initially told the dispatcher that an unidentified person at the home was unconscious, then moments later said he was dead, and finally identified the person as Prince. The caller was Kornfeld's son, who had flown in with buprenorphine that morning to devise a treatment plan for opioid addiction. Emergency responders found Prince unresponsive in an elevator and performed CPR, but a paramedic said he had been dead for about six hours, and they were unable to revive him. They pronounced him dead at 10:07 am, 19 minutes after their arrival. There were no signs of suicide or foul play. A press release from the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Anoka County on June 2 stated that Prince had died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, at the age of 57.
It is not known whether Prince obtained the fentanyl by a prescription or through an illicit channel. The question of how and from what source Prince obtained the drug that led to his death has been the subject of investigations by several law enforcement agencies. A sealed search warrant was issued for his estate, and another, unsealed, warrant was issued for the local Walgreens pharmacy. On April 19, 2018, the Carver County Attorney announced that the multi-agency investigation related to the circumstances of Prince's death had ended with no criminal charges filed.
Following an autopsy, his remains were cremated. On April 26, 2016, Prince's sister and only full sibling Tyka Nelson filed court documents in Carver County, to open a probate case, stating that no will had been found. Prince's five half-siblings also have a claim to his estate, which totals millions of dollars and includes real estate, stocks, and cars. As of three weeks after his death, 700 people claimed to be half-siblings or descendants. Bremer Trust was given temporary control of his estate, had his vault drilled open, and was authorized to obtain a blood sample for DNA profiling.
Prince's ashes were placed into a custom, 3D printed urn shaped like the Paisley Park estate. The urn was placed on display in the atrium of the Paisley Park complex in October 2016.