Prince died with Percocet, a highly addictive painkiller, in his system, according to an anonymous source quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The source emphasized that the cause of the singer’s death was still undetermined.
The tragic details of the singer’s final days have been leaked to the media since his body was discovered at his home in Chanhassen, a suburb of Minneapolis, on April 21. He was 57 years old.
Two weeks earlier, Prince had postponed a pair of performances in Atlanta because of influenza. The artist performed the shows originally scheduled for April 7 on April 14, despite reports that he was still recovering from the illness, according to theatre press releases.
The next day, on April 15, Prince’s private flight back to Minnesota made an emergency landing at Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois, when the singer was found unresponsive on the plane. Various media reports claimed the singer overdosed on Percocet, which Prince had been taking to relieve pain from a hip problem.
The singer reportedly received a shot of Narcan, an opioid reversal medication. He was taken to a nearby hospital and released three hours later, according to several reports.
On April 21, Andrew Kornfeld, son of renowned addiction specialist Dr. Howard Kornfeld, and two of Prince’s assistants found the singer’s body in an elevator in his home. Andrew Kornfeld called 911 seeking help, but emergency responders were unable to revive him, according to media reports.
Prescription opioids were found in the home, and there were no signs of foul play or trauma, according to a statement from Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson. His body was taken to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minnesota, and Dr. A. Quinn Strobl performed an autopsy on April 22. Results of the autopsy have not been released because law enforcement is performing an investigation searching for information about Prince’s prescription history and how he obtained the drugs.
A History of Addiction and Drug Abuse
Several media outlets have reported that Prince had a history of drug abuse and addiction. The U.K. based tabloid DailyMail reported that a man claiming to be Prince’s former drug dealer sold the singer prescription drugs from 1984 to 2008.
The dealer reported that the artist would spend $40,000 on six-month supplies of prescription painkillers, according to DailyMail.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Prince’s representatives contacted Dr. Kornfeld on April 20, the night before the singer’s death, because they feared for the singer’s health. The elder Kornfeld was unable to immediately travel to Minnesota, so his son Andrew traveled from California on a red-eye flight that night.
Dr. Kornfeld reportedly contacted a Minneapolis physician to check on Prince, and the addiction specialist was hoping Prince would agree to attend the Kornfeld’s rehab clinic in Mill Valley, California.
Andrew Kornfeld arrived at Prince’s estate at 9:30 a.m. on April 21 with a small dose of buprenorphine, a medication commonly used to ease opioid cravings. However, Prince’s representatives were unable to find the artist. Shortly thereafter, Prince’s body was discovered, according to the Star Tribune.
Remembering a Legend
Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis. His mother was a singer and his father was a lover of music. At age 20, he released his first album “For You.” Six years later he starred in “Purple Rain,” a film loosely based on his life as a struggling musician.
The movie’s theme song “Purple Rain” won an Academy Award for best original score, and “When Doves Cry” was nominated for a Golden Globe. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year, and Prince won three Grammy’s for songs on the album. The album was later awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame award.
Prince earned 32 Grammy nominations and won seven Grammy’s during his career. The album “1999” was also awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award. In 2007, “The Song of the Heart” won a Golden Globe for best original song.
Prince wrote and produced music for five decades, and inspired artists such as Madonna, Beyoncé and George Clinton.