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france 24 Culture

Prince's death remains shrouded in mystery

© Scott Olson, Getty, AFP | Music fans visit a memorial outside Paisley Park, the home and studio of Prince, on April 22, 2016 in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-04-29

There was no evidence of trauma on Prince's body when he was found unresponsive at his home nor was there any indication that the late music icon committed suicide, Carver County (MN) Sheriff Jim Olson said Friday.

Prince, 57, was found dead in an elevator in his suburban Minneapolis home on Thursday, devastating fans and fellow musicians across the world.

"We have no reason to believe at this point that this was a suicide," Sheriff Olson told a packed news conference, stressing the investigation was ongoing.

The sheriff said there were "no obvious signs of trauma" or violence on Prince's body, suggesting he was alone when he died.

Olson refused to comment on reports the incident may have been triggered by an overdose of an opioid-based painkiller.

He said authorities planned to file a search warrant for Prince's vast home and studio complex in the coming days, though stressing that this was standard procedure.

Prince's untimely death comes a week after he was hospitalized for flu-like symptoms that he later downplayed.

The Grammy and Oscar winner, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, was last seen alive on Wednesday evening by staff at his Paisley Park estate, but his body was only discovered the following morning.

Medical officials cautioned it could be weeks before they can conclusively say what led to the death of the enigmatic, award-winning musician.

The local medical examiner's office declined to comment on possible signs of drugs or a drug overdose in Prince's body, saying the full results of the autopsy and toxicology scans would take several days or weeks.

'End of an era'

Grieving fans around the world have responded to the shocking news of their idol's death by wearing purple – Prince's signature colour – in his honour.

Those milling about outside his home to pay their respects placed flowers and handwritten messages at the scene, which has become a place of pilgrimage.

"Broken-hearted. The end of an era," said Jodi Surnix, 45.

"It's almost like a photo album, his music, that you just can recall all these great times."

The Canadian school bus driver said she cranked Prince up on the stereo for the kids when she drove them home after news broke of the singer's death Thursday afternoon.

Many in Minneapolis said how proud they were of the city's native son, and how saddened they were by the thought he died alone, as well as by the suggestion his death could be linked to an overdose of painkillers.

"I'm sad that he died alone because he was such a people person," said Barb Ruhl, a 65-year-old retired administrative worker.

Cindy Legg, a 41-year-old nurse, said: "Hopefully it was just God needed him in heaven."

Entertainment website TMZ, citing unnamed sources, reported that Prince was treated last week for an overdose of Percocet after a show in Atlanta, when his private jet made an unscheduled landing in Moline, Illinois.

The report could not immediately be verified.


Small in stature but an electrifying live performer, Prince became an international sensation in the 1980s, fusing rock and R&B into a highly danceable funk mix.

The sudden loss of the "Purple Rain" legend, who was acclaimed for his instrumental wizardry and soaring falsetto, prompted an outpouring of tributes – and spontaneous celebrations.

In New York, director Spike Lee led a Prince sing-along at a packed block party in Brooklyn, while in Minneapolis, where a bridge was lit up in purple in Prince's memory, the atmosphere was carnival-like with fans bursting into song.

"You know, he was the greatest artist of all time. There will never be another one like him," said Antonio Harper, one of thousands who partied through the night in Prince's hometown in a bittersweet farewell.

"I cried, I cried a few times all night," said Melody Johnson, part of the crowd at the First Avenue club, where Prince shot "Purple Rain," the rock musical featuring songs from the album of the same name.

"Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin was one of many in the entertainment industry to honor the singer, describing him as "an original and a one-of-a-kind."

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger called Prince "one of the most unique and talented artists of the last 30 years."

President Barack Obama, who invited Prince to play a private White House show last year, let slip that he played some of his records Friday morning at the US ambassador's residence in London, where he was staying.

"It happens there's a turntable and so this morning, we played 'Purple Rain' and 'Delirious' just to get warmed up before we left the house," Obama told a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

"He was a great performer. And creative and original and full of energy. And so it's a remarkable loss."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)


Date created : 2016-04-23


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