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How Did Prince Die? The Tragic Story

May 31, 2023
how did prince die

On April 21, 2016, the unexpected death of the legendary rock and roll musician Prince left the world in shock.

The 57-year-old singer was discovered unresponsive in an elevator at his residence in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Despite having an appointment scheduled with addiction medicine specialist Howard Kornfield the following day, an emergency call was made to the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, reporting an unconscious individual at Prince’s Paisley Park home.

When emergency responders arrived, they discovered that he had already passed away.

Prince’s passing resulted from a combination of deteriorating health and addiction to pain medication, particularly the lethal substance fentanyl.

Allegedly, the artist did not consume the drug directly; rather, it was present in his counterfeit pain medication.

His demise came as a shock to the world and brought the growing crisis of opioid-linked deaths to the forefront of public attention.

Prince remains to be an unforgettable figure in both cultural and musical realms.

His distinctive style and androgynous persona have secured him a place as one of the greatest artists of all time, transcending generations.

Who is Prince?

Prince Rogers Nelson is a renowned singer, songwriter, and pioneer in the music industry. 

He was born on June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As a youngster, Prince was fascinated with music and taught himself to play the piano, guitar, and drums.

While in high school, Prince co-founded Grand Central (later renamed Champagne) with Morris Day and André Anderson (later known as André Cymone).

In 1978, Prince landed his first major record deal with Warner Bros.

Records and the rest is history. 

In a candid 2009 interview with Tavis Smiley, Prince opened up about his childhood battles with epileptic seizures and being ridiculed in school.

Determined to prove his doubters wrong, he revealed, “Early in my career, I tried to compensate by being as flashy and as noisy as I could.”

Prince’s early musical endeavors were groundbreaking, with albums like Prince, Controversy, and Dirty Mind incorporating taboo themes of religion and sexuality.

But it was 1999 and Purple Rain that catapulted him to superstardom, with chart-topping hits such as “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

With seven Grammy Awards under his belt, Prince’s creative output was nothing short of remarkable, as evidenced by later albums like Diamonds and Pearls, Musicology, and The Gold Experience.

How Did Prince Die? 

On April 21, 2016, the Minneapolis emergency dispatchers received a chilling call: an unidentified male was discovered unresponsive in an elevator at Paisley Park.

The caller soon revealed that the victim was none other than the iconic singer and musician Prince and that he may have already passed away.

Despite the valiant efforts of the paramedics who rushed to the scene, Prince was beyond saving.

He had already been deceased for at least six hours before being found.

The responders declared the legendary musician dead only 19 minutes after arriving on the scene.

As reporters and fans gathered outside, many overcome with emotion and shedding tears, Prince’s body was taken away for an autopsy to determine the cause of his untimely death.

The shocking news of Prince’s sudden death left the world reeling.

The autopsy report revealed that the beloved musician had died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, an opioid 50 times stronger than heroin.

So, how did Prince, who was not known to be addicted to fentanyl, end up with the deadly drug in his system?

As it turned out, the musician had been struggling with chronic pain for years due to a hip replacement surgery he underwent in 2010.

While Prince was not addicted to fentanyl, he was seeking treatment for an addiction to pain pills.

Doctors speculated that the fentanyl that caused his untimely demise had been disguised to look like generic Vicodin.

Despite rumors, investigators found no evidence of foul play or suicide.

Prince’s death was a tragic accident, a reminder of the dangers of addiction and the deadly consequences that can result from the misuse of prescription drugs.

Prince’s Struggle with Drug Addiction

Prince’s struggle with addiction was no secret in the months before his untimely death.

However, he did take steps to seek treatment by arranging an appointment with Dr. Howard Kornfeld, an addiction specialist.

It was a tragic turn of events, as Prince’s willingness to seek help only highlighted the severity of his problem.

Dr. Howard Kornfeld, an addiction specialist, was scheduled to meet with Prince on April 22, 2016, to start his addiction treatment, but fate had a different plan.

Prince was found dead on April 21 before he could even meet with the doctor.

Kornfeld’s son discovered the singer’s lifeless body the next morning while he was carrying Prince’s prescribed medications for his treatment.

The news was devastating, as the doctor and his team had hoped to help the beloved artist overcome his addiction and find a path to recovery.

Prince’s addiction struggles in the months leading up to his untimely death did not go unnoticed by the media.

The cancellation of several shows on his “Piano & a Microphone Tour,” which started in January 2016, raised eyebrows.

Prince’s publicists stated that he was suffering from influenza, but rumors of drug addiction persisted. 

Prince soldiered on and played his last show at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 14, although he was still unwell.

On his return flight, he experienced his first overdose, and the plane had to make an emergency landing.

His representatives initially maintained that he was hospitalized due to dehydration caused by influenza, but the truth about his addiction to painkillers only came out after his death.

According to reports, Prince’s representatives were not being dishonest.

They stated that Prince had fallen ill with the flu, which later progressed to walking pneumonia.

In the days leading up to his death, Prince was spotted in public several times, including going for a bike ride in Chanhassen, Minnesota, the day after his first overdose. 

He also attended a live performance at the Dakota Jazz Club on April 19 and made an unexpected appearance at a community dance party at his Paisley Park residence.

Despite concerns about his health, Prince assured those who asked that he was feeling well and did not require prayers for his recovery.

Witnesses at the party noted that he was in high spirits, full of energy, and even showcased his new guitar while displaying his humor.

Investigation

After Prince’s death, an autopsy was conducted to determine the cause of his passing.

Despite the medical examiner’s determination that the cause of death was a fentanyl overdose, questions remained regarding how this had occurred.

The investigation into this matter continued for two years and involved a lawsuit brought by Prince’s extended family against his doctor, Michael Schulenberg.

Schulenberg denied prescribing fentanyl to Prince, although he did provide him with Percocet in the weeks leading up to his death.

However, Schulenberg also claimed that Prince’s representative had misled him, presenting the pills as being for themselves rather than for the late singer.

As a result, Schulenberg stated that he had no knowledge that he was treating Prince or assisting him in obtaining painkillers.

Despite this, the pill that ultimately led to Prince’s death did not resemble Percocet, indicating that the musician had obtained it from another source.

Despite extensive investigations, authorities could not determine where the medication originated.

In addition to questioning Prince’s doctors, they also interviewed workers at his pharmacy, but these efforts failed to yield any significant leads or information.

How Did The World Reach To Prince’s Death?

The passing of Prince elicited reactions from numerous public figures and musicians.

One of the most noteworthy responses came from President Obama, who spearheaded the passage of a resolution in the United States Senate that commended Prince’s contributions to music, innovation, and culture.

In addition to the Senate’s acknowledgment, various cities across the United States held tributes and vigils.

At the same time, many landmarks, structures, and bridges were illuminated in purple to honor the late artist. 

The topic of Prince garnered 61 million interactions on Facebook, and #Prince was a trending topic on Twitter.

MTV even suspended regular programming to air a series of Prince’s music videos.

An episode of Saturday Night Live was dedicated to Prince in honor of the artist, titled “Goodnight, Sweet Prince,” which showcased his previous performances on the show.

In addition, Prince’s music was greatly appreciated by the public, with Nielsen Music reporting a 42,000% increase in the playing of his songs.

From April 21 to 28th, sales of 4.41 million Prince albums and songs were recorded.

Funeral

After the autopsy was completed, Prince’s remains were cremated and placed in a custom-made urn that had been created through 3D printing and designed to resemble the Paisley Park estate.

This urn remains on display in the complex’s atrium as a lasting tribute to Prince.

Prince did not have an official public funeral or memorial service.

Instead, his sister Tyka Nelson revealed that a private gathering of close friends and family who had a personal connection to Paisley Park had been held soon after the musician’s death to commemorate his life.

Later that year, in October 2016, a less spontaneous memorial was held.

However, neither Prince’s remains nor his immediate family were present at the event.

Nelson explained on her Facebook page that one memorial service was all they felt they could handle.

The service occurred at the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Although Prince’s immediate family did not attend the memorial service held in October 2016 at the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, the private event was still attended by a number of the musician’s celebrity collaborators and friends.

The memorial was organized by Prince’s ex-wives, Manuela Testolini and Mayte Garcia, including Spike Lee, Gwen Stefani, and Larry King attendees.

Prince’s Legacy

Prince, like many other musicians, struggled with addiction.

He recognized that he had a problem and was actively seeking help.

However, it was ultimately too late, and he passed away before receiving the help he needed.

Nevertheless, Prince’s music remains an enduring legacy that revolutionized the landscape of rock and roll as we understand it.

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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