Prince autopsy: No sign of suicide, say Minnesota police

Coroners conducted an autopsy on Friday before turning over the body to the singer's family

Tim Walker
Los Angeles Correspondent
Friday 22 April 2016 22:01
24 hours after his death, 13 of the top 20 albums on iTunes were Prince LPs
24 hours after his death, 13 of the top 20 albums on iTunes were Prince LPs

Police in Minnesota have said there is no sign that Prince, the fêted musician found dead at his home in suburban Minneapolis on Thursday, took his own life. Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said at a press conference that the singer had died alone and exhibited “no obvious signs of trauma.” There was, he added, “no reason to believe at this point that this was a suicide.”

It could nonetheless be weeks before the public learns the true cause of the star’s death. He was found slumped in a lift at his Paisley Park home recording studio on Thursday morning. Medical personnel performed CPR at the scene but were unable to revive him, and he was declared dead shortly after 10am.

Coroners conducted an autopsy before turning over the body to Prince’s family. A spokesperson for the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minnesota said no preliminary findings will be released until the results are complete. In a statement, the Medical Examiner said that would take “several days” while “the results of a full toxicology scan could likely take weeks.”

Prince had reportedly overdosed on a highly-addictive prescription painkiller just days before his death. According to a report by TMZ, which cited multiple unnamed sources, the musician was using the drug Percocet to treat the pain arising from a 2010 hip operation.

In the small hours of 15 April, his jet made an emergency landing in Illinois on the way home from an Atlanta concert, so he could be given a so-called “save shot”, an injection or nasal spray used to counter drug overdoses, the website claimed.

Following that health scare, a spokesperson for the 57-year-old star – real name Prince Rogers Nelson – said he had been treated for a bad bout of flu. He was briefly hospitalised in Illinois but flew home to Minneapolis hours later.

Late on Thursday, the Carver County Sheriff’s office released the 911 call made from Prince’s home after the singer was found unresponsive. The caller told the operator: “We’re at Prince’s house… people are just distraught.” Asked about the unconscious person, he said: “It’s Prince.”

Stars pay tribute to Prince

24 hours after his death, 13 of the top 20 albums on iTunes were Prince LPs. Fans mourned publicly from Minnesota to Broadway, where the casts of hit musicals Hamilton and The Color Purple both closed their Thursday evening performances with tributes to the late musician.

Buildings across the US and the world were lit up in purple to commemorate the Purple Rain singer, including the New Orleans Superdome, Los Angeles City Hall and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In Brooklyn, film director and Spike Lee threw a block party in honour of his late friend.

Meanwhile, reports continued to emerge of Prince’s last few public appearances. Last week, the singer performed two intimate concerts in Atlanta, playing a selection of his greatest hits alone at a piano on a stage filled with purple smoke.

Last Saturday, the day after his medical scare, Prince hosted a dance party at Paisley Park for around 200 fans, where he turned up for less than five minutes, showing off a new purple Yamaha piano and guitar. He did not perform.

Jon Bream, music critic for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who had covered Prince’s career since the 70s, was at the party and wrote afterwards: “He never intended to perform on Saturday… He just wanted to demonstrate that reports of his dire health were greatly exaggerated.”

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